Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 14:43 UK
Steve Cross's new Shrews diary

Steve Cross
Former footballer Steve Cross provides analysis for Shrewsbury Town matches

Port Vale 1 - 1 Shrewsbury

It has been a long season with ups and downs galore, culminating in a morale boosting point to deny local rivals Port Vale access to the play-offs.

Once the dust has settled I think the fans deserve some news, any news, on the attempts to appoint a manager for the club. The silence has been deafening from the club since Paul Simpsons' departure, with fans websites going into meltdown with speculation over who the club are going to appoint.

What's happened to Timmins and Delaney? Their gardens are going to be immaculate by the time a decision is made on their futures.

Talking of futures, players contracts are up, trainees need to know if they are being kept on; there are big decisions to be made. Who's going to make these decisions, certainly not Mike Jackson, stand in gaffer on Saturday. He was only playing with these guys a few months ago and it would be unfair to lump it on his shoulders.

The man who has got the answers to all these questions is the chairman Mr Wycherley. A simple short statement would not only pacify supporters and playing staff, but would give us a hint of where the club are heading next season.

Mr Wycherley, the floor is yours.

Shrewsbury 2-3 Morecambe

I suppose it was inevitable. Poor results, the standard of football the fans were watching and a friction that had manifested itself between the manager and the fans - and you're left with only one outcome.

Paul Simpson became the 38th managerial casualty of the season, and left with a 50/50 split among fans as to whether the club should have sacked him.

Personally, I thought he had done ok; restructuring the club from youth upwards. But as every fan will tell you across the country, they want success and they want it yesterday.

The demands on a football manager in today's game are unbelievable, and the Chairman and his board of directors have the difficult task of appointing someone who can take the club forward.

The potential of the club is frightening. Which other League Two club gets support like ours; week after week whether results are good or bad.

I think the next appointment is probably the most important in the club's history. The club is waiting to take off and I hope the chairman takes his time in appointing the right man, because a rushed decision could be costly.

None of the names banded about on fans' websites fill me with anticipation, but there must be a manager out there with a desire to take the club on.

Northampton 2-0 Shrewsbury

Well that's it - finished, terminado, fertig. There are many different ways you can say it, but that is Town's season over, bar a flock of flying pigs (and I haven't seen one of those since Dagenham last season).

The play-offs are history, and all Town are playing for in the next two games is pride in the shirt.

Questions and recriminations are bound to raise their ugly heads in the next couple of weeks, after a season that started slowly, shone brightly in the new year, but came to an alarming slump that culminated in loss of confidence amongst the whole squad, not helped by an agitated Prostar crowd.

Maybe it's time for a rebuild of the squad. The spine of the team is ok, with Button (I hope we can keep him) in goal, Candsdell-Sherrif and Langmead steady at the back, Dunfield in midfield and Hibbert in attack.

What the team is crying out for is pace. We have never replaced Davies and Humphrey from last season, players who get you out of your seat and get in to the penalty box believing they are going to score.

It's a tall order for the manager, because every other team in League Two wants the same players. I think it's going to be a busy summer for the manager and his staff going through the PFA list of players who have been released by Premiership, Championship and League One clubs.

Money will come into it, but choosing his squad for next season is an absolute top priority.

Shrewsbury 1-0 Lincoln City

Relief all round at the Prostar on Saturday as Kris Bright broke his league duck by scoring, and so ended the pain for the home supporters, who have had to endure blank score lines in the previous weeks.

Town passed the ball exceptionally well, which meant that the wide players, and Jake Simpson in particular, got the ball to feet early and put numerous crosses into the box for the forwards to feed on.

Unfortunately, Cureton again (and to a degree Hibbert) could not finish off the abundant chances that fell to them.

A frustrated Paul Simpson sent on the ever-willing Van Den Broek, Bradshaw and Bright to freshen things up, and his changes paid off as Bright scored with a tap-in which will have delighted the New Zealander after a frustrating stop and start season.

There was further jubilation from the Prostar stadium when results went the right way for the Shrews.

Now only four points off the play-offs and three games remaining against teams in the chasing pack.

But be cautious, don't order your Wembley flag and horn just yet!

Crewe 0-1 Shrewsbury

I read a great quote from Ex-Town defender and now Everton Manager David Moyes: "Sometimes a manager helps the players, but players have got to help the manager".

Never was this quote more true than on Saturday, as Shrewsbury players put in a performance to help their under-fire manager.

Town could have been down-and-out after 20 minutes as Crewe peppered their goal. Resolute defending and a bit of lady luck saw them drag themselves back into the game thanks to a goal from Dave Hibbert, totally against the run of play.

The score lifted Shrewsbury's confidence but gradually ate away at Crewe's, and the second half saw Town take control of the game.

Jamie Cureton, who had performed much better, was replaced by Tom Bradshaw on 75 minutes... and must have left a lot of Shrewsbury's away fans scratching their heads at the appearance of the player who was relatively unknown.

All I can say is what a debut!

A fantastic long throw from keeper Button put Bradshaw in possession. After running 30 yards he cut in and unleashed a stunning shot that left former Town loanee and Crewe keeper Phillips floundering in mid air, as the ball nestled in the top right hand corner of the net. Cue wild celebrations from the away fans, and Dunn and Cross in the press box.

A tap in for Bradshaw's second goal sealed Shrewsbury's 3-0 win, and brought praise from manager Simpson for all his players. Two home games, six points, the top teams having a wobble.

Play-offs? I am not even going there.

Shrewsbury 0-1 Notts County

The defeats at Torquay and at home to high-flying Notts County have virtually ended Town's promotion hopes.

The "mathematically it's possible" scenario will be thrown around in post match comments, but in reality is a team that's lost six on the bounce going to win their last six games? I think not.

Speculation about the manager's position will always rear its ugly head, and the manager knows results will always dictate a chairman's hand.

The continuity of clubs like Rochdale, Bournemouth and Dagenham that have shown faith in their managers even after mediocre seasons, have proved that it takes time to turn a club around.

If there is one thing that Paul Simpson needs to do next season if he's still here (and I hope he is) it's to spend the chairman's money wisely.

No more duds.

Scour the non-league for hungry, talented young players, and lastly give yourself at least 45 minutes before you attend post match interviews!

Shrewsbury 0-2 Darlington

Certain footballers like Craig Bellamy (Manchester City) and El Hadji Diouf (Blackburn) reckon that when the crowds give them stick it raises their game.

I am sure they are in the minority, because believe me getting booed and listening to personal abuse hurled at you is not much fun.

For the majority of the game at the Prostar on Saturday, I thought the fans backed the team, but when you go 0-2 down to a side who are bottom of the division and staring at Conference football, you are going to get abuse.

I think if the fans had witnessed the Darlington goal being peppered with shots and lots of goal-mouth action, it would have helped to subdue the frustration. It never materialised and the supporters vented their anger.

The team played with fear throughout the 90 minutes, with misplaced passes, poor control of the ball and poor decision making when in possession.

Are the Town players good enough to get the team into the play-offs? On the evidence of the last four performances you would have to say no.

My concern is that the season doesn't fizzle out, after all the hard work that's got them to the fringes of the play-offs. It's time for certain players to stand up and be counted, starting at Torquay on Saturday.

Port Vale 1-1 Shrewsbury
08 May 10 |  League Two
Nick Southall's new Bucks Diary
06 Aug 09 |  TV & Radio



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