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Secret Non-League Footballer Column: Martin Allen Back At Barnet

Can ‘Mad Dog’ get Bees buzzing?

MARTIN ALLEN is arguably one of the most controversial and entertaining managers in the lower leagues of English football. ‘Mad Dog’ certainly lives up to his nickname.

Allen’s flamboyant nature was displayed when he was asked about his return to Barnet for the fourth time in his career. “I’d finished watching ‘Breaking Bad’ and the garden is looking fantastic,” he said. “So there wasn’t much more for me to do.”

And his latest Bees reign got off to a winning start as his side completed a 2-0 victory over the much-troubled and cash-strapped Hereford United, before a 1-1 draw at Cambridge.

Martin Allen is back at Barnet for a fourth spell in charge

Martin Allen is back at Barnet for a fourth spell in charge

Allen’s relationship with Barnet is not only extensive but complicated. He last managed the club in 2012, when he kept the club in the Football League after they defeated Burton Albion 2-1 in their last game of the season.

Barnet have had a relatively good season but, since the departure of Edgar Davids, it would seem that the team has needed reshaping and regrouping. And a renewal of that fire in the belly to reach the play-offs, which is more than achievable for them.

The reinstatement of Allen will require an immediate turnaround and, personally, I don’t believe he’s the man for the job.

I think that Barnet, with a few extra signings, can challenge for the play-offs, especially with so many teams dropping points of late and the league exhibiting an inconsistent pattern, which has been the case throughout the season.

It is likely that Allen will implement many changes. And there’s always unrest when a new manager comes in; in the past, I’ve known players fear that he will want them out. But you’ve got to believe in your own ability and prove this to the new boss.

Allen is the type of manager who is very intimidating, but a strong character who will motivate his players and get the best out of them.

Nevertheless, I believe that unless he shows that he is passionate about working with the club long term, I reckon it may be a bad move to appoint him yet again.

With him staying at clubs for usually short periods, Barnet may lack stability and this will cause unrest within the changing-room. Allen is similar to Jose Mourinho, whereby he works his magic at a club and moves on.

Don’t get me wrong, Allen is good at this and has been successful pretty much everywhere he has been. But his reputation has often been tarnished by his sometimes off-hand demeanour and how he conducts himself.

I have heard a few stories about Martin, some very strong ones against him from players who I have played with. He appears to rub up the wrong way not only the players he works with but also members of staff.

From what I have heard, people can become scared of him and be made to feel very uncomfortable. If they perhaps looked at him to say “hello”, he would reply: “What are you looking at?”

It’s as if he’s on a power trip and doesn’t give the respect to people that he would expect to receive himself.

This “aura” has built up over the years at every club he has managed. Some stories have been quite amusing.

I recall one player telling me that when he was travelling south with his club, Allen – his manager at the time – stopped off at a service station and found a spot where the team could train.

The area they found was a car park and, even though the team did not have any equipment, he still lined up the team as if they would be defending a corner.

Not having any footballs, he demanded that one player throw a plastic bottle into the vicinity of the players and for them to react – defending a corner – like they would on a matchday.

With Barnet having six games left and lying just two points off the play-offs, their chances of making it into the knockout phases remain almost totally down to the response Allen gets from his players.

*Read The Secret Non-League Footballer’s column at www.thesecretfootballer.com

And follow him on twitter @tsfnonleague

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