One of my favourite internet memories was the eruption of disbelief that greeted this column by Mike Read in which the man, most famous for going into meltdown over the lyrics to the song Relax and hence ensuring its notoriety, pronounced that he would not be in the running to be Mayor of London. This came to mind when DeiseHurling noted on Twitter who was not interested in the Waterford manager’s job:
Aprés M Read, I’d like to confirm that I’m not interested in the role. In fact, up to this point I’ve said nothing at all about the future for the job because there’s been nothing substantive to talk about. The County Board need to ponder the manner in which they have handled the debate, a complete vacuum of information allowing the most ludicrous speculation to spew forth. Strictly speaking the County Board don’t need to be transparent. They are the elected representatives of Waterford GAA and their word is law. However, it would be good practice to at least keep Muintir na nDéise informed of events. As matters stand the only thing we know is that Davy Fitz’s one year contract is up, in itself a ridiculous conceit. Why do they bother giving ‘contracts’ to GAA managers? It makes sense in professional sports where the manager can take a few risks in the knowledge that a board will have to pay off their contract if they think he is not going in the right direction. No doubt Joe Kernan was assured that he’d get three years to make things right in Galway football, but there was nothing to stop the Galway County Board giving him the heave-ho after just two Championship matches. The same will even apply to the sainted JBM and his three-year contract in Cork. These verbal contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.
Still, despite the lack of information it’s probably useful to have something to say before the denouement (whenever that may be) so that one can’t be accused of trying to be wise after the event. The one strong opinion I have is that the time has come to say adios to Davy. This will doubtless lead to a chorus of sneers from those outside the county who think that Waterford have notions above their station and can’t see that Davy, far from holding us back, is one of the things keeping us so far forward in Senior hurling. And they probably have a point. There’s nothing he can do about a setup that sees Waterford have only one scoring forward, and he a man who made his championship debut ten seasons ago. There are lots of positive things to say about Davy’s reign. We were a shambles when he took over at such short notice and managed to take the team to a place we haven’t been in the best part of half-a-century. His Munster Championship success in 2010 makes him the second most successful manager in that time. And I’ll always be grateful to him for spreading balm over the festering wound that was our relationship with Clare. Standing on the platform on the Quay looking embarrassed at the reception the team received after massacre at the hands of Kikenny in the All-Ireland final, a lot of grudges drifted away on the wind like so much gossamer.
Having said all that, past performance is no guarantee of future results and having gone through the Davy Fitz School of Style for the best part of four years without achieving the ultimate success things are getting a bit stale. When the time came to relieve Gerard Houllier of the Liverpool job it didn’t imply that his time had been a failure and he will still be fondly remembered by most for the preposterously enjoyable 2000/1 season when Liverpool picked up three cups and qualified for the Champions League. But if you stand still in sport you end up going backwards as other teams move forward, and it got to a stage where more-of-the-same was clearly not working. That stage seems to have been reached in Waterford. The County Board should thank Davy for his sterling contribution to Waterford hurling and announce that they are looking for applicants for the job. And any discussions about the future incumbent can be based on declarations of interest rather than tabloid-style fantasies. I like the cut of that Mike Read’s jib . . .