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Feb 2, 2008
So we got a great win last night. And Paul Sturrock has assembled a new squad of players in a relatively short period of time. And it's all different and new and there's some promise of what might be achieved. I also have a lot of regard for what Paul Sturrock has achieved as a manager at other clubs.

But these are really early days. Measuring someone over two competitive games compared to one of our best management teams ever over a much longer period for six and a half years (when there will always be highs and lows) is quite a difference. The way some people are hailing the new management as heroes when it's so early days with some comments belittling the previous management is astounding. What short memories some people have.

Let's not forget what happened in the Tilly & Brush era (not just one or two games):
* When they took over, we were heading out of the league. They stepped into a team with a losing mentality adrift at the bottom and immediately turned it around.
* They also got us to our first national cup final in that first season.
* They got us to our second ever national cup final in the following season.
* We nearly went up automatically, but somehow bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on the last day to win the play offs.
* We achieved successive promotions by winning the league the following year (including that famous double over Col Ewe).
* As expected, we went down from the Championship the following season, but along the way we had our best ever Cup run, missing out to an offside goal in the 115th minute at White Hart Lane, knocking out Man U along the way.
* Re-built and bounced back from the disappointment of relegation by getting to the play offs in the next season.
* In the following year, we had a small squad and had to make do with loan players and took us on a great run and just missed out on the play offs. Also gave Chelsea quite a scare with another result that's right up there in our history.
* Last year was the only season I'd call a "failure" but would put this down almost entirely to factors outside of their control - continued late payments, small squad, transfer embargoes, squeeze on ability to sign players, unhelpful official statements concerning the team, uncertainty concerning winding up hearings, players suddenly shipped out, bust-ups, players playing out of position or too soon after injury, loss of goalscorer and inability to properly replace him, loyal assistant dismissed. No wonder things appeared "stale" at times last season when all that had taken its toll!
* Unlike the dross we had witnessed in many years previously, some of the best passing and exciting football I've ever watched as an SUFC fan.
* A fighting and never-say-die attitude (again with the exception of last season for extenuating circumstances).
* Had some terrific and exciting players (not just Eastwood!) as a team was re-built a few times. Not all of the players signed turned out great, but there were plenty who were.
* Loyalty beyond the call when turning down moves that would have furthered Tilly's personal career when he was on the crest of a wave. Also not throwing in the towel (to his possible personal detriment) when so many others would have done with everything going on last season.
* Taking a club that had been consistently doing badly to one that suddenly believed in itself and had a real spirit around it.

T&B made some mistakes along the way, but who doesn't? We may also (rightly or wrongly) disagree with some of their decisions such as substitutes or tactics (I know I didn't always agree with everything they did), but they had their own methods that worked better than probably any of us on ShrimperZone if we'd put our necks on the line and had to manage our club. As SBH has recently said, they were the perfect match for us in so many ways.

This was achieved over a long period. What happened last year to them was an incredible burden to have to fight against and I'd challenge any management to have done better or to motivate the players more than they did in the circumstances or find the right formula given what they had to work with.

These are very very early days for the new management team. What would happen if they do well - will they leave to go to a bigger club? What would happen when (inevitably as any side does) we have a bad run? What happens if they are faced with anything like the same constraints and off the field issued as T&B had last year?

T&B are a very hard act to follow. It would be unfair on the new management and players to constantly compare them to that amazing era, but only after 6 years or after they have left can proper comparisons be made. Tilly may have not had the best media style or may have come across as too nice, but that style encouraged the players to play for him and he wasn't afraid to make changes or mix it up when that was needed. T&B were not as tactically naive as some make out either. They made changes when they needed to and did experiment with other formations. But remember another very successful manager in Webb also keeping things very simple with 4-4-2 so that the players at our level knew what they were supposed to be doing? Just sticking to the same formation does not mean that T&B didn't have a clue - just that that was their style of doing things.

I found the way that Tilly, Brush and the players were unceremoniously treated last year, culminating in the way they were despatched in the end was truly sickening. That was not what I wanted to be done in my name from OUR club. As much as I don't blame the new management team or the players and wish them the best, I'm struggling to generate any enthusiasm right now. I'm still absolutely gutted at the way such loyal servants of the club have been treated and I can't easily forget that. I hope that feeling will wear off. But in the meantime, I'd just ask for people to remember and have a little perspective and respect for what T&B and their teams achieved before they were dumped. It was a sustained period of truly magical years that don't come round very often.