Scott Young pays the price as Port Talbot’s play-off charge fizzles out, what next for the Steelmen?
News of yesterday’s statement from Port Talbot Town certainly caught me by surprise. The parting of ways between Young and Port Talbot was not a particularly big shock but rather the timing of the decision.
I’ve been a big supporter of Scott Young throughout his tenure at the GenQuip Stadium but acknowledge that the club’s expectations were not being met this season with the Steelmen languishing in ninth-place in the table, having seen their play-off chances further diminish in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to Bala Town.
Port Talbot firmly backed Young earlier in the campaign when the side posted a poor return of just two league wins from 15 games and yet with the neither play-offs nor relegation looking likely, I suspected that the club would take stock at the end of the season before making any such decision.
Having worked for the club in recent years, it’s difficult to write about Port Talbot from an ‘outside perspective’ – yet even from my insight into the club at close quarters, it’s hard to shed light as to actually why the side have underachieved this season.
I found Scott Young and his assistant Marc Cahill to be most impressive in their professionalism, knowledge and desire to succeed which breathed fresh life into the club and they seemed an ideal partnership for a Port Talbot outfit who’re hungry for silverware and European football.
The Port Talbot squad is amongst the strongest in the league and I personally believed they would spend the season pushing high up the table. There are not many Welsh Premier League sides that the likes of Lee Surman, Ashley Evans and Rhys Griffiths wouldn’t get into. And that backbone is complemented by players of a good calibre, such as Ryan Green, Lewis Harling, Martin Rose and Lee John, who has converted himself into one of the league’s better right-backs this season, whilst the infuriatingly talented David Brooks is, on his day, as good as any player in the league, though blighted by inconsistency.
Moving forward, I believe Port Talbot will look to follow a similar path as to when Scott Young initially replaced Mark Jones 18-months ago, where Young was initially given the position on an interim-basis before being appointed full-time.
The club could well turn Jarrod Harvey who was brought in by Scott Young earlier this season to assist with coaching and ironically took charge of the first-team, in Young’s non-related absence, last weekend. Harvey forged a reputation as one of the brightest young managers outside of the Welsh Premier League during his time at Cambrian & Clydach and may well look to make the most of any given opportunity which may present itself.
The general feeling amongst the club’s supporters is for stronger local representation within the first-team squad and the club have faced some criticism for the lack of homegrown players making the transition from its flourishing academy to the first-team. Having been a side which often make relatively high-profile signings, I believe Young’s departure could well signal a change in direction for Port Talbot and I expect the club to re-assess its recruitment policy next season and adopt a ‘closer to home’ strategy for the long-term development of the first-team squad.
Whoever does take over the reigns from Scott Young on a permanent basis faces a challenge of getting one of the most ambitious clubs in the league to realise its true potential – a challenge which may well also appeal to Carmarthen’s Mark Aizlewood, who could feel the time is right to move to pastures new this summer.