Failure to even reach the playoffs this season has sparked heated debate over the future of manager Chris Wilder. Yellows Forum has come to resemble an online battleground since the curtain went down on our ultimately disappointing season, with every discussion degenerating into petty squabbling about whether Wilder should retain his job. Many of the sensible, well-reasoned points from both camps seem to be getting lost amongst the insults and childishness, so we've opened our pages to some sensible debate. Having
brought you the views of several Oxford fans who thought Wilder
should stay, we continue our debate over the future of the
manager with why Wilder should leave.
I do love you but I’m not in love with you.
First of all let’s get something straight; I think Chris Wilder is a decent manager and he has done an ‘OK’ job. He came to a club that was at its lowest ebb for 50 years and restored some much-needed pride. He didn’t do it with particular style or panache and there were some spats along the way, but he did it. The Wembley final was my finest day as an Oxford supporter. I’d been to the Milk Cup Final and other magnificent games but nothing meant as much to me. That day is the primary reason why I will always love Chris Wilder. The titular phrase to my article is often used by husbands and wives as they come to the end of their marriage and to me that’s the stage I’m at. I want a divorce and I want it now.
Throughout our marriage Chris has been unpredictable. Just when I thought things were going well he’ll throw a curveball at me, derisory comments about the club's history, snarling at the fans, inexplicable collapses and an incredible lack of consistency in team selection. Somehow though, although those things hurt, I always felt that the marriage was worth it. He had generally made me happy and, as the cliché says, every marriage has its up and downs.
Last year was a sticky patch, no more than that. I ended that year feeling that we could have achieved more and I watched Stevenage claim a place in League One feeling that it could have been us, but not to worry, we’ll do it next year.
Well ‘next year’ has come and gone and we didn’t do it. In fact we didn’t ‘do it’ due to one of Chris’ spectacular collapses. Over this season I have become tired of Chris, in fact I have started to dread
him. The dread of his post-match media work, dreading being told that I should be grateful for being in League Two, dreading hearing that I should remember that we’re only in our second year back in the league, dreading seeing the 367th combination of strikers, dreading his tactical intransigence, dreading the lack of desire to build upon a one goal lead and most recently dreading seeing Chris choose a player like Dean Morgan over players who have more desire in their little toe than Morgan possesses in his entire body. That dread has taken the love from our marriage and familiarity has bred contempt. I happen to think that that contempt is now mutual, he clearly isn’t in love with me any more. We need to part before all the happiness that the marriage brought vanishes entirely. The marriage counsellor would say “stick at it, progress is slow but you are progressing”. That’s a word that I keep hearing – progress. The numbers don’t lie, we have progressed; is it enough though? We have spent significantly more this year and got a few more points but fundamentally nothing has really changed. If I did speak to a marriage counsellor I’d ask one question, “what will really change to make next year different?” It certainly won’t be Chris; he has shown he is incapable of change.
Chris Wilder is a decent manager. He is certainly very good at setting teams up to avoid defeat. The problem is that only a special few can stay at a club for years and keep the magic alive. I’m so tired of hearing him, dreading him and of watching his team play. He could go to another club and be the breath of fresh air that they, as we, need. The time for him to go is now, before it turns from mild contempt to outright hatred. Think of the kids Chris, think of the kids.