The perks and pitfalls of Allen-less Barnet

Was Akinde better under Allen?

Quitting as manager of Barnet in December has not worked out so well for Martin Allen, who has been dismissed after just 14 games in charge at Eastleigh. In this post-Allen era for the Bees, or ‘between-Allen’ if historical trends continue, what has changed?

Under Rossi Eames and Henry Newman – now Kevin Nugent and Eames following Newman’s departure – they have played better football. A beneficiary of this change has been mid-season signing Ruben Bover, a midfielder who has class with the ball at his feet, provides good movement and helps the team gain more control in the opposing half. It is hard to imagine a player in Bover’s mould having the same influence under Allen, who encouraged his players to bypass the midfield.

Equally though, it would be hard to imagine John Akinde going three games without a goal under ‘Mad Dog’. The final time that happened was February 2016, but since Allen’s exit, Akinde has had two three game goal-droughts, the second one counting. That is not so much a criticism as an indication of the change in style.

The big man thrived in a team that sat deep, invited opposing defences to press up, allowing him to power onto punts up field and go one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Now, he’s having to work in tighter areas, which involves being subtler in his movement and touch, which does not suit him.

The dilemma for Nugent is whether to revert to a system that suits Akinde, at the risk of becoming a one-dimensional team. Otherwise, he could persist with a style that limits Akinde’s impact but expands the team’s alternative capabilities.

Barnet are playing better football without Allen, but it remains to be seen whether they will become a better team.