Like many others, I found the defeat against Boro very dispiriting, and the prospect of missing out on promotion for another season is pretty hard to take at the moment. Many mistakes have been made this season, and while Paul Heckingbottom can`t be blamed for most of them, the way he conducted his press conference seemed to suggest that the road to the Premier League could be a long one.
Hecky`s appointment was not universally welcomed, and in such circumstances you would usually see the manager making a concerted effort to show the fans that he is the right man for the job, and that he can move us back closer to the top of the table.
Instead, following a disappointing away defeat, the new manager has decided to play down expectations, saying things will take time to turn around. For some at least, the suggestion has been that he should be offering more than quotes that question the club`s ability to compete at the highest level.
Whether we are “way down the pecking order” financially as he claims or not, there is a big rebuilding job to be done at this club in the summer. From the gaffer`s comments it`s clear that he believes the squad reflects our mid-table position in the Championship, but he dismissed that a “quick fix” was possible due to the financial clout of other teams in the division.
He went on to say that we could build the sort of mentality, organisation and recruitment that Huddersfield built under David Wagner. He said that this was a long-term approach, but you have to take into account the Terriers went from appointing the German to promotion in just 18 months. If he is saying we can do something similar then fair enough, but I wouldn`t see their example as a result of a long-term plan, rather a short-term transformation.
Although on a smaller scale, Cardiff have also managed to change from also-rans to promotion contenders within the space of a year. They spent just £5m in the summer, and they find themselves 2nd after finishing 12th last season. Even without a huge pot of money, climbing the table in the short term is not impossible. You don`t have to spend massive amounts to recruit a squad that is capable of competing in the higher echelons of the Championship.
What we can`t afford to repeat of is the disastrous summer transfer decisions by Victor Orta, and have a competent recruitment team that can aid our ambitions. Heckingbottom needs to look a lot less at other clubs, and to identify what he needs changing in his own team as soon as possible to keep his job for the longer term.