More questions than answers
First of all I must apologise for my lack of blogging activity in recent weeks. I went away on holiday and neglected you all, it is unforgivable I know.
Upon my return, however, I asked myself a simple one word question that covered a number of topics. Why?
Why did a number of Northern Ireland international footballers feel the need to go out drinking and break a curfew just days before the biggest international game of their careers?
Why did Newry City end up in a situation that saw them lose a bright young manager (Gerry Flynn, below) who felt that the interventions of his chairman left his position impossible?
Why do Glentoran seem totally incapable of performing in a home fixture this season?
Finally, why did Tommy Wright decide that the Lisburn Distillery job was the right one for him?
I am sure you will all agree, these are all questions that are very difficult to answer.
Let's take the first one for example. Imagine the situation, you are an international footballer, you know that you are part of a team that has the opportunity to book a place at the World Cup finals, something that has not happened for 24 years.
Having just returned from Poland where you were part of an outstanding away performance and earned what could be a vital point you are rewarded by the manager with a day off on the understanding that you are back in the team hotel later that evening.
Coming up three days later is a crunch qualifier against the group leaders in Belfast in front of the expectant home fans who have followed you around Europe during the bad days as well as the recent better ones.
Faced with such a dilemma, what should you do? Have a relaxing day and stay under the radar, try to get a bit of rest between the games. Or perhaps you could go out clubbing in Belfast where everybody will recognise you and therefore inevitably spread the word like wildfire that they bumped into you in town and report, and probably exaggerate, the state that you were in? It's a no brainer really isn't it?
I can imagine the inquest that followed. Where was the discipline? What was the manager doing allowing these players out?
I'm afraid it is a much simpler reflection from me. Nobody other than the players themselves can be responsible for their actions on a day off, they deserved it after their heroics in Poland.
But it must be a worry that some of the players in the squad felt that it was totally reasonable for them to do what they did so close to such a crucial game.
Players should not be locked in their rooms during international weeks. I have seen at close quarters how bored they are stuck in hotels both here and abroad. The Hilton Templepatrick should not be turned into Colditz during international weeks.
But the players who decided to go out must also ask themselves if their night out was worth it and was such a wise idea. Chances like the one that they had given themselves to qualify for a Woirld Cup do not come along very often.
Now I am not for one minute suggesting that if those players had all stayed in the hotel that the result may have been different.
David Healy was splashed across the front page of a tabloid newspaper after the infamous 3-0 home defeat by Iceland and went on to score a hat-trick on the Wednesday night against Spain. However, the action of that group of players last month has left many fans asking a different question. What if?
Now for Gerry Flynn's decision to resign as manager of Newry City. He claimed the final straw came when the chairman emailed him with two suggested team line-ups, one for a 4-4-2 formation and the other for a 3-5-2 line-up ahead of a league game for City.
How can a manager possibly continue to operate under those circumstances? As Roy Walker once told me, football clubs work best when everybody at the club acknowledges what their role is. Directors direct, players play, managers manage and supporters support.
As I write this latest instalment, Glentoran have managed to win just one of their five home league games so far this season, and that came against the 10 men of Lisburn Distillery who are yet to win a match this season.
The Glens have also lost at home to Linfield in the Shield and to Bohemians in the Setanta Cup so what has gone wrong at fortress Oval? How can a team crowned league champions and then add Keith Gillespie and Richard Clarke to their squad suffer such a dramatic loss of form? I have not seen enough of their games to comment.
Finally my old chum Tommy Wright is back in management at Distillery. Tommy himself admitted that he must be crazy to take the job.
At least the only way is up, and the margin of defeat in recent games seems to have got narrower.
The crunch for Tommy and his players will come when they take on those other teams currently in the bottom half of the table. If they don't start taking points off those sides then they really are in trouble.
But of course relegation is not inevitable. Maybe the Championship will be won by a club that does not want to be promoted!