Time for Tim to stand up and be counted

Reputations will undoubtably be on the line when the new Premier League season kicks off on the weekend of 17/18 August.

We will no longer have a manager in charge of first team affairs at our club – the sign on Julen Lopetegui’s office will presumably say ‘Head Coach’. A modern and trendy title it appears. Although whatever the title, the responsibility for performance and playing style will stop at JL’s door.

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It’s his head that will be on the line when the new campaign begins. There’s no hiding from that, whatever the title he’s been given. Head coaches, just as easily as managers, will feel the full force of dissatisfaction from the fans if things aren’t working out.

But should the worst happen and the sense of expectation that abounds at the moment from those who have longed to see the back of the now departed David Moyes fail to be realised, not only will Lopetegui be in the firing line but Head of Recruitment Tim Steidten’s position could justifiably come under intense scrutiny.

It appears Steidten had been briefed some time ago to go forth and explore possible successors to Moyes – if the need should arise. How many names were seriously in the frame we will never really know.

There were several options banded around on social media – we all saw those for ourselves. But were they really in the race to be our new team boss? Who knows! What we do know is we’ve ended up with Julen and Steidten was all smiles when he recently climbed out of the customary limo with our new man, happy to give the boss in waiting a lightning tour of our Rush Green training ground.

Tim had got his man, and he has been keen to give his preferred choice a full and public endorsement. Quoted on the club's website, Steidten declared: “Julen lives and breathes football.

"He thinks deeply about the game, he is tactically astute and he has shown he can adapt to work in different leagues, in different countries, with national teams, and in each situation he has shown his outstanding qualities.”

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It was quite a statement of endorsement from the man who arrived himself at the London Stadium last August and seemed to be an instant hit with some of our fan base – impressed by his work particularly in the German Bundesliga.

The arrival of Edson Alvarez and Mo Kudus appeared to enforce his image and reputation as the man who could invigorate our club with some exciting new signings. But there were suggestions that Alvarez and Kudus were already very much on the club’s radar before Steidten’s arrival – apparently via the work done by Mark Noble in his role as Sporting Director.

Of course, Konstantinous Mavropanos also arrived last August as a result of Steidten’s efforts. But it has to be said, after a patchy beginning the jury is still out on him at the moment.

There was very little to get excited about in the January transfer window. Kalvin Phillips was generally accepted as being a Moyes choice – and we all know how that turned out. But Steidten was linked with two other possible new arrivals – unfortunately both ‘transfers’ hit the rocks before getting anywhere near to completion.

So the fast-approaching, transfer window which opens once again on 14 June - the prelude to the 2024-25 season - is a big test of Tim’s credentials. His reputation has to be on the line – just as the reputation of our new head coach will be.

Tim Steidten has enjoyed something of a gentle ride over the past year. But our fanbase might not continue to be so accommodating and forgiving if we are let down again – both on the pitch and off it!

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