HOW do you solve a problem like Dorchester Town’s first team?

Since 2017, six managers have tried their luck at one of Dorset’s biggest clubs.

Mark Jermyn, Craig Laird, Steve Thompson, Callum Brooks, Leigh Robinson and Robbie Herrera have now come and gone.

Most of their tenures probably won’t go down as highlights in the Magpies’ hall of fame.

In the case of Herrera, sacked by Dorchester on Thursday, his contribution to the club’s history lasted just 12 matches, spread across 11 months.

His was an unprecedented reign as boss, negotiating two national lockdowns as manager and another as assistant to ex-boss Leigh Robinson.

Herrera’s first and second games in charge were separated by eight months.

Some fans may look at the fact he has managed just 12 matches and feel he was short-changed of time, but has he?

READ MORE: Robbie Herrera and Kevin Hodges sacked by Dorchester Town

Those lockdowns presented Herrera with a chance to plan in great detail for a return to full action, which eventually came in August.

One common theme throughout pre-season was the ongoing saga over a lack of strikers at the club.

Herrera had high ambitions, entering talks to sign two-time Wembley goalscorer Liam Ferdinand.

However, the Binfield hitman preferred to stay in the south east, signing for Met Police who at seventh currently lie 12 places above the Magpies in the Southern League South table.

Olaf Koszela, so impressive on loan from Torquay, was initially kept from going on loan by Gulls boss Gary Johnson.

Dorset Echo: Olaf Koszela joined Tiverton this summer Picture: PHIL STANDFIELDOlaf Koszela joined Tiverton this summer Picture: PHIL STANDFIELD

That was until he joined Tiverton weeks later in a move bound to have irritated Dorchester.

And so began a sequence of strikers either pricing themselves out of a move to Dorchester or other clubs gazumping the Magpies with higher wage offers.

When the season began with a painful 2-1 loss to Beaconsfield Town, and still no striker signed, Herrera was forced to play winger Sam Bayston up front.

Perhaps most painful about that defeat was the plethora of chances created that, had they fallen to a genuine predatory number nine, would surely have been buried.

One redeeming feature for Herrera was his achievement in making the first-team’s style of play more attractive.

Crucially, the club’s 3G pitch lends itself to a passing game and Dorchester had finally got to grips with the possession-hogging brand needed to succeed on the artificial turf.

While performances continued to be bright, results did not follow as chances were spurned in front of goal.

Salisbury pinched a win in the 90th minute as old Magpies darling Tom Blair popped up with an agonising late winner.

Dorset Echo: Tom Blair returned to haunt the Magpies for Salisbury Picture: GRAHAM HUNTTom Blair returned to haunt the Magpies for Salisbury Picture: GRAHAM HUNT

There were narrow one-goal losses to Poole and Weston, while a missed penalty in stoppage-time saw a genuine chance of a point at Taunton vanish into thin air.

If luck had deserted Herrera, he could justifiably have argued so.

An FA Cup exit to Yate was followed by a 2-0 win over Walton Casuals – a second victory of the season after the 3-1 win at Hendon.

But results began to tail off as Harrow and Gosport claimed 2-0 wins.

Most damaging of all was the 4-1 loss to Lymington on Tuesday.

Stationed one division beneath the Magpies, Lymo were unfazed after going 1-0 down at half-time.

The Linnets netted four times in the second half against a youthful Magpies side, which gave minutes to six under-23 players in total.

It proved to be the final straw for Dorchester’s board, who agreed to dismiss Herrera and assistant Kevin Hodges.

For chairman Scott Symes, the question now is which manager can take the club forward.

Symes feels everything is in place for the first-team to succeed.

Healthy finances. Burgeoning under-23 and under-18 teams. An excellent network of volunteers. They are all there.

So why have six managers failed in four years at the Avenue? The answer is complicated.

There is a genuine lack of good Southern League players at the right age in the Dorset area.

Dorchester are preparing to obliterate that with a hugely promising young player pathway.

However, right now, Dorchester are suffering from the sparse catchment area of their home county.

The same problem would haunt Weymouth, were they not two divisions higher.

Another reason appears to be a culture of poor results which has set in.

Dorchester have not finished higher than 13th for eight seasons. Let that sink in.

The Magpies were undoubtedly saved from relegation by the Covid-19 pandemic, languishing 10 points adrift of safety and bottom of the league in 2019/20.

Since then, Dorchester used their reprieve as a wake-up call. This summer the focus was on bringing in quality players who make a tangible difference to the team.

In the main, that has been achieved. Results have not.

Herrera was steadfast in his notion of bringing in good, reliable players. That did lead to delays in signing a striker and goalkeeper.

Perhaps the signings of three strikers in quick succession in Rudy Plummer, Alfie Stanley and Kieran Phillips signalled one last throw of the dice?

Dorset Echo: Kieran Phillips scored twice on his Dorchester debut Picture: DAVID PARTRIDGEKieran Phillips scored twice on his Dorchester debut Picture: DAVID PARTRIDGE

Herrera was certainly backed with a decent budget – and so too will the new manager.

Dorchester must surely appoint a manager with experience of either transforming a club’s fortunes or an extensive knowledge of the Southern League.

If that person can then continue Dorchester’s attractive style, combine it with the right playing personnel and instil a winning mentality then the Magpies may well have found the solution to their puzzle.