Darren Sarll has stepped away as Yeovil Town’s manager to take up the vacant position at Woking. Here are Ian’s Five Conclusions from today’s shock announcement and Darren Sarll’s time in charge.
He was the man we needed when we were on our knees following relegation. When he came in to club in the summer of 2019, he picked up a threadbare club that had whimpered out of League Two. He brought Carl Dickinson and Craig Alcock back in from the cold after his predecessor’s abysmal decision to exclude them. He reinvigorated Courtney Duffus and turned him from profligate to prolific. And he brought in experienced players we could only have dreamt of recruiting the season before.
He hasn’t had a fair crack. With just one month to build his first squad, he managed to build a squad of senior, experienced pros who made us dream in that first season before COVID-19 curtailed football. He admitted the recruitment pre-Christmas second season was poor and the only bright sparks were the discovery of Tom Knowles and the loan signing of Josh Neufville. With Scott Priestnall’s attempt to sell the club’s most valuable assets prevented, and his subsequent disappearance, Sarll was left with a shoestring budget to build a squad which has run itself into the ground, in what is now, his final season.
Like us all, he had his faults. When we’ve been in-form, our performances have been electric and results have followed. But when the form drops off, it really seems to drop off. Our run of six without a win after Christmas in 2019 saw us slip down into the play off spots after our bright start had us dreaming of an immediate return to the Football League. It took us 12 matches to pick up a league win in 2020/21 as we struggled repeat the start of 2019/20. Autumn 2021 saw an incredible run which was abruptly ended by Torquay on Boxing Day and with just one win from the turn of the year until March 19th, it was a bad start to 2022. At times supporters have criticised his lack of Plan B during these runs and his unwillingness to try different tactics, although this season he was left with little room for manoeuvre with his small squad.
You can’t blame him for leaving. With just three months left on his contract and a family to look after, he can’t gamble on his future. The uncertainty that wilts the football club off the pitch has infiltrated the dressing room. Certainty and clarity has been provided by Woking and he’s seen an opportunity to grab with both hands, rather than wait for any new regime to make a decision.
He carried himself immeasurably in the wake of Lee Collins’ passing. Darren Sarll’s reign at Huish Park can be split into two. Since the tragic passing of our captain, Sarll was the face and the voice of the club. He carried a grieving club on his back and dragged a team of young men to finish a season in unfathomable trauma. Lee’s passing will forever be a part of Yeovil Town and the way Darren Sarll picked us up in the aftermath will be too. You would not have blamed him for wanting to have a break at the end of last season, but he went about building a third squad in the three years, that embraced the club and memory of Lee Collins as a driving force. For all his faults, the way he carried himself as the ambassador of our club in this tragedy was exceptional and I’ll forever be grateful that we had him when we did.