Horndean manager Michael Birmingham considering his future after Wessex League loss at AFC Portchester
Michael Birmingham is considering his future as Horndean manager following their 2-1 defeat at AFC Portchester.
He is questioning whether he has taken the club as far as he can.
The former Bognor Regis boss has been remarkably successful since taking over in the summer of 2016 from Craig Pearce.
He has led the Deans to sixth, fourth and second place in his three seasons in charge. In both of the last two campaigns he has led the Deans to their best ever Wessex finish.
It was always going to be difficult to repeat that success this season in a highly competitive league.
Birmingham always wears his heart on his sleeve and feels the first half of the season has not gone as he would have liked.
He is also disillusioned with what he regards as poor levels of officiating in the league.
This is a factor, as much as anything, that could drive him out of the Five Heads Park hot-seat.
It came to a head in the Portchester defeat.
'Once again we end up talking about the referee after the game,' said Birmingham.
'I am fed up of doing this.
'There were nine bookings and a sending off in a game where there were no nasty tackles.
'Being a local derby it was always going to be feisty but the referee lost control after only three minutes.
'If he had clamped down on a Steve Ramsey tackle on Jack Maloney at the start he could have nipped it in the bud.
'The best thing was the final whistle so I didn't have to watch him anymore.
'I can take the fact that referees are human, like the rest of us, and will make mistakes.
'What I am finding increasingly difficult to deal with is the arrogance of some officials
'I am not sure I can take much more of it.
'Over Christmas I am going to sit down with my family and backroom staff at the club and reflect on the situation.
'It has been a gradual build up during the first half of the season.
'Horndean is a wonderful club and I have lots of friends here.
'We have improved our league position every year but this season have not reached the high standards we set ourselves.’
Horndean are currently ninth, but only trail second-placed Stoneham by eight points in a congested top half.
Though they have completed the double over leaders Alresford, they have also lost 4-0 at home to lowly Fleet and thrown away a 3-1 lead at struggling Solent University to draw.
In addition, Birmingham was furious with an FA Vase home loss to Raynes Park and also said his players waved a ‘white flag’ during a recent 3-0 league loss at Fareham.
'I have to ask whether things have become too comfortable for us and players alike,’ he continued.
'Christmas will be a time of reflection to see how we can move forwards.
'Whatever I decide, I won't walk away in the middle of the season.
'In the end I have to do what is right for both myself and the football club.'