By Alex Narey
A few weeks ago, I headed to Stonebridge Road – or the Kuflink Stadium as it is now known to please those pesky sponsors – to watch a midweek clash between Ebbsfleet and Woking.
There was something of a sentimental reason for going; I have wanted to head back there since the stadium redevelopments as it was the venue where I made my Non-League Paper reporting debut back in 2002.
The place may have been spruced up a touch but it still had that old-school feel it had when I watched Farnborough and Gravesend play out a dull 0-0 draw 16 years ago.
Back to the game in question, Ebbsfleet won it 2-1, but I couldn’t tell you a lot about it because I didn’t watch a lot of it.
Instead, with my press seat positioned right next to the away dugout, I had my eyes fixed on the actions of the now ex-Woking boss, Anthony Limbrick, who was relieved of his duties last week by the Surrey club.
Watching Limbrick that night, it was clear to see he had come from a coaching and technical background, because he didn’t stop ‘coaching’ on the touchline.
Constantly trying to get his message and his methods across, it was like he wanted to send a strong message out to his players that he was firmly in control.
You can’t fault him for that, but I do question whether it is the right approach. I’ve rarely seen players respond to it when they are in the thick of the action.
When the 34-year-old was appointed as the Woking boss last summer, I, like many others, was left scratching my head at the appointment.
It wasn’t that I was questioning his credentials – he had come from Southampton and West Ham’s Academy with a fine reputation – but rather because it was such a brave call to put someone in at a club like Woking, with no experience at that level.
I encourage the appointment of young, aspiring managers, but Woking clung onto their National League status on the final day of last season and slapping a three-year plan to reach the Football League on Limbrick’s shoulders was too much. That, for me, was the biggest mistake the club could have made.
After a strong start (the Cards were pushing for top spot back in the autumn), the inevitable slump followed, and when that happens, it’s finger pointing time.
Limbrick was working with a young squad but still, I wonder how many of them really put a shift in when he really needed it.
I also wonder if outside influences played a part, people close to the club or former managers who were too close to the board. Let’s face it, we all have opinions but some are able to influence the decision-makers with theirs.
Managing a football club can be an ugly business and I hope Anthony Limbrick isn’t lost to the game because of this.
There may well be a club out there for him. It never was Woking. You need a certain breed for that job… someone, you know, with seriously thick skin…
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday
Tagged Anthony Limbrick