How do you rate Wally Downes' achievements in his first season in charge?

Last updated : 15 June 2003 By

Downes: Twelve months in charge
The latest Bee Hive poll asks you to vote for how you rate the achievements of Brentford manager, Wally Downes in his first season in charge at Griffin Park.

When Steve Coppell resigned last June, the then chairman Ron Noades had no hesitation in appointing Downes, who had been the Coppell’s popular right hand man and coach throughout the previously successful campaign.

Downes knew the enormity of the task facing him. The charismatic Coppell, had in the eyes of many fans, exceeded all expectations in managing to guide the Bees to a third place finish in the 2001/02 Nationwide Second Division season and an ultimately unsuccessful play-off final appearance against Stoke City at the Millennium stadium.

Additionally, a number of senior players were out of contract and the board was looking to trim the wage bill, indeed star names such as Lloyd Owusu, Paul Evans, Ivor Ingimarsson and Darren Powell had all departed before the ex-Wimbledon player’s first game in charge at Huddersfield Town on the opening day of the 2002/03 season.

To Downes’ credit, Brentford with one of their youngest squads in many a year, got off to a tremendous start, registering four wins and a draw in their first five games of the campaign, to briefly lead the table.

The likeable Londoner had been prudent in securing the services of Ibrahima Sonko, Jamie Fullarton and like his predecessor, Downes also obtained a striker on a season long-loan, Rowan Vine from Nationwide First Division, Portsmouth.

As the season progressed however, the Bees did falter, a combination of players’ inexperience, injury and a lack of form, but the season was illuminated with an impressive FA Cup run, to the Fourth Round, the furthest Brentford had achieved in seven years.

The semi-final of the LDV Vans Trophy was also reached, before a home golden goal defeat to Nationwide Third Division Cambridge United, put paid to Downes’ chances of silverware in his first year at the helm.

Thereafter a tricky run of form ensued, and indeed a number of fans were starting to look anxiously at the bottom of the table as late winter turned to spring.

Safety was duly secured on Easter Monday, when another of Downes’ loan signings, Nottm Forest’s Mikael Antoine-Curier, bagged a brace in the 2-0 victory at Chesterfield.

A final day draw at home to Barry Fry’s Peterborough United meant Brentford finished in a reasonably comfortable 16th place in the Nationwide Second Division table.

So all in all, how do you rate Downes’ achievements in his first season in charge?

Do you think he did an excellent job considering the high number of quality personnel that left during the last close season, or do you feel the manager sometimes lacked the charisma and tactical brain of a Coppell, a Webb or even a Noades.

The choice is yours vote now on the latest Bee Hive reader poll by clicking here.