Solihull United boss Sam Manoochehri was left gutted by the news he wouldn’t see his table topping side taste promotion this season, writes Bradley Rice.
Manoochehri’s men sat atop Midland Football League Division Two prior to the FA’s decision to declare the season null and avoid due to the coronavirus.
And although Manoochehri understood the measures taken were necessary, he couldn’t hide his frustration at seeing his side fall short through no fault of their own.
“First and foremost, it’s a global pandemic, and I completely understand that people’s health is paramount,” he said.
“But based purely on the football side of things it is really disappointing for us. We were in a strong position in the table with ambitions to go up.
“So it is a real kick in the teeth for us. For the FA to come to the decision to scrap everything, is a very tough one to take.
“The sides who come out happy, are those towards the bottom of the league, they have ultimately been saved from relegation.
“It’s the teams that have been successful on the pitch who will be punished, as they haven’t been able to achieve their goals.”
Instead of voiding the season, the FA could have employed the points per game method as an alternative.
Manoochehri conceded he was not in favour of this system but preferred it to discarding the entire campaign.
“I am not a massive fan of points per game,” he said. “But to think how far we are into the season, to completely scrap it, points per game would have been the fairest.
“Now I know teams would argue that we haven’t played so and so, we’ve still got such and such to play and I see their point.
“But over the course of x amount of games, based on your performances, you work out an average.
“I can’t speak for other leagues, but in my opinion, our league table was a fair reflection of the season and I don’t think many would disagree.”
It is not the end to the season which Manoochehri craved for his young charges in a campaign which marked the end of a chapter for his current side.
For many, they have pulled on the shirt for the last time as their college programs have come to an end and they will no longer be in education, a requisite to play for the team.
“That’s the nature of the beast here,” said Manoochehri. Naturally there will be a group of lads who will be moving on, having finished their education with us.
“Our program works on three to four year cycles. The last campaign was our fourth season and was arguably our strongest team ever in terms of age and experience.
“That’s why we were top of the league but it’s just a shame we couldn’t get to that next stage with those boys.
“I’m not saying we would have been competing for the league, but nor do I think we would have been relegated.
“But from a development point of view, it would have been nice for the lads to play in front of bigger crowds, against teams like Atherstone, clubs with a bit of history.”
Moving forward, Manoochehri is aware of a petition signed by over 60 clubs in protest of the FA’s choice to annul the campaign but he is not optimistic it will hold water.
“A few of the lads have messaged me about the decision and have asked me what happens now,” he said.
“We are still hopeful that something changes that somehow by some miracle we are promoted.
“I’m aware that a number of non-league clubs have put in a letter to the FA over the decision but I can’t see them changing their mind.
“In my 14 years of coaching, I can’t ever remember once the FA reversing a decision and I have a horrible feeling that the letter will fall on deaf ears.”