The Sunday after defeat to Newport an unknown journalist on Twitter, with just enough followers to seem credible and a name you couldn’t make up, told us that John Still would leave Luton the following day. At least that’s what he understood.
Rumours on the internet are usually easy to ignore: At the time of writing for example, neither Keenan nor Kel have actually died, there’s rarely really ever a riot at Dartford away and reports of Nathan Tyson’s signing for The Town remain greatly exaggerated.
But sometimes rumours have a flicker of foreboding truth about them. Just enough corroborating circumstance to provoke that involuntary twinge of acceptance. Maybe a little, tepid part of me had wanted it to be true… Could it really be the end of the road for Still?
And so, for I and others who read the rumour, like a bruised and bloody Dr Jones senior staring over the cliff edge at the fireball he believes has taken his son Indiana, we experienced a little preview of that moment of clarity that might come when Our John does eventually leave.
I was absolutely gutted.
I didn’t think I would be, to be honest. It’s been a bit of a slog following Luton this past year and there hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer or to inspire our enduring travelling, arseholed armies. But reading the words on Twitter and seeing the rumour take hold of the good people of Lutopia last week, there was none of the ball-tingling excitement or throat throbbing relief that my frustrated face at full time the previous day might have hoped for. Instead, looking back over John’s post-match interview from south Wales, it felt as if a bit of the club (and me by extension) might have fallen, prematurely, off.
Whenever Still does eventually leave, for me at least, there’ll be plenty to miss. Because football today is littered, like my Tube journey to work, with enough throwaway spivs in blazers and hair product and teeth they haven’t finished paying for. Clubs are built like Corporations from the dugout down on financial models and scouting networks and big data. Marketing collateral. The brand. Disposable people with barely opposable thumbs. Customer satisfaction or your Moneyball back.
It hit me that the John Still era at Luton might be the last chance we ever get at giving a betracksuited football manager a bit of time to build something around him – something we were all up for a year ago. It’s a nice philosophy for a club to have, but I suppose it’s only easy to walk the talk while you’re winning.
In a world moving more and more quickly every day, expectation will only grow the further up the league we go, and sooner or later we’ll be just another Championship machine screaming and crying on our own YouTube channel until managers are leaving every 3 months just in time to start hounding out the next badge wielding careerist, talking his way up a ladder so shallow it won’t remember it was ever climbed.
Sooner or later there’ll be no such thing as Managerial Eras anymore. Just a perpetual merry-go-round. And every club will be just like that soul-for-sale Udinese tribute band down in Watford.
Sooner or later that’s what we’re gonna get, mate.
So what’s your hurry? Drop the pressure...