Easy come, easy go…

October 26, 2010

I’m still in a state a shock. No, not about Celtic’s dismal defending against Rangers yesterday, that I expected (and I have a post on that coming!) Instead, I’m shocked that while watching said Old Firm game I received a text message from a mate saying “Shorty’s been sacked!” I know I should never be surprised by anything in football, but I was certainly caught off guard here. I can’t help but feel a little disappointed, too.

For a new squad, in a new division and under a new manager, I’ve thought we’ve been doing alright. A couple of good solid performances at Wolves and Peterborough, as well as the demolition of Yeovil have shown real potential in our squad, and if we’d had a bit more luck we’d be flying high. Perhaps it is because of Short’s previous connection to the club, but I was personally willing to give him the time to provide us with some much needed stability.

There have been a few dissenting voices towards Short from the first day of the season, but I myself thought that given a bit of time, the side would come together. Indeed, the majority of Notts fans I’ve spoken to this season seem to have had the same opinion, so yesterday’s news came as a shock to a few of us.

Even more disappointing though was the news that Dave Kevan had also lost his job. Dave was a vital part in last year’s promotion, holding the playing squad together while we went through manager after manager, and throughout the turmoil at board level. From what I’ve heard he was very popular with the players too, so it does then seem a little harsh for Dave to be removed from his position.

However, I can see the other side of the coin. We clearly have a highly ambitious chairman, who has the best interests of Notts County at heart. If he didn’t then he wouldn’t have pumped so much money into our beloved club, sold a business for the sole purpose of adding extra funds to the club’s budget, or bought Nottingham Rugby, for that matter. It seems he’s looking to protect that investment, and rather than let too much time slide by, he’s made the decision quickly. Ultimately, this suggests he believes he made a mistake in appointing Short in the first place.

Many of us can make a defence for Short, beginning with just how unlucky we have been under him. So many games we’ve dominated, playing good football in the process, but just unable to take our chances. If we’d scored a second against Colchester the game was in the bag. Sheffield Wednesday were there for the taking as well, and if we’d taken one of our many chances in the first half we could easily have gone on and scored two or three. That’s just to name two matches. However, football is a results business, and “what ifs” ultimately don’t win points.

As a fan I have to trust the chairman’s judgement, something which I’m certainly prepared to do. Now we have heard that the new man “will be an experienced head”. A wise decision I believe, but it has to be the right appointment. I’m not convinced by many of the names I have heard mentioned so far, but I’d suggest there is somebody already lined up. I believe Kevan lost his job because most managers these days expect to be able to bring in their own back room team, or at least an assistant manager. I just can’t see any other explanation, so if you have one please feel free to enlighten me.

So now we have to ask just who is next? I’ve heard a few people suggest Paul Hart, but I’m not convinced that would be the right move. Peter Reid would be a strange one for me too, and some of the other names in the mix are just ‘pie in the sky’. Gordon Strachan? Phil Brown? Never going to happen. I think Paul Ince would be a decent shout, as would Alan Pardew. An outside bet for me would be someone like Micky Adams, who has Port Vale flying in League Two, and who has experience in all four divisions. However, I’m not convinced he’s a big enough name for Ray Trew’s ambitions, so perhaps I should raise mine accordingly. In that case I’d go for Alan Curbishley, but I just couldn’t that happening (see above ‘pie in the sky’ statement!)

Ultimately I’ll back whoever comes into the club. What we need is a manager who will come in and tighten the defence up, and demand more from our front players. We need to turn these good performances into victories, and as much as I accept that Steve Cotterill is ancient history at Notts, I can’t help but think if he’d been in charge we’d have at least six extra points thanks to his demands of the players.

All I would personally ask is that Tony Mowbray gets nowhere near the Meadow Lane hotseat, and I hope Middlesbrough hurry up and appoint him. Nine months of Mowbray as a manager of your team is enough to provide a major dose of the blues to even the most optimistic supporter. For it to happen to both of my clubs within twelve months may see me off to the doctor for a course of valium!

If you need convincing otherwise, YouTube has dozens of examples of Celtic’s dismal performances last season. Get some popcorn and settle down for a true horror show. Just make sure you tell me first so I can hide behind the couch…

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Once again I must apologise for my lack of blogging activity, I’ve had a crazy month. More commentaries than I’ve ever done before have limited my time to post, but it’s always better to be busy, right? And don’t ask me about ‘Football Manager’ either…

So it’s been a strange start for Notts and for Craig Short. An opening day thumping from Huddersfield brought us all back down to Earth with a bump, and maybe gave us the reality check we needed. Followed up with another battering at Oldham, some of us were a little concerned, but with 44 games of the season left, there was no need to panic.

Tell me then, why are a section of the support calling for the head of Craig Short already? I mean, football management is hardly renowned for longevity, but seriously, TWO games? I don’t like criticising our fans generally, after all the pain that the team have caused us over the years, Notts fans are a special breed. However, there is a ‘spoilt child’ act amongst those demanding action from Ray Trew. Yes, we had a great year last season, and we haven’t made the best start this, but it is a more difficult league. As a result, it is a gradual process. If we were to sack our manager after TWO league games, no manager worth their salt would want the job.

I said myself that the priority at the start of the season is to stay in the division, and anything better than that is a bonus, and I stick by that. Yes, we’d all like back-to-back promotions, but compare where we are now to just two years ago. It’s a night and day comparison.

Of course, there are now some positives to talk about. Two rounds of the League Cup successfully negotiated, with a fantastic win away against Championship opposition last night, and two clean sheets. Add that to the first league win (albeit a scrappy one) against Dagenham on Saturday, and all of a sudden things are looking much better.

However, I see the vultures from the bigger clubs are circling around Meadow Lane, with Ben Davies their main target. If rumours are to be believed (I’ve never been a big one rumours, but this one certainly concerns me) a deal has been signed and ‘Super Ben’ is away up the A52. I really hope this is not the case, as this would be a massive backwards step.

OK, selling him would open up a fairly hefty transfer kitty for the club, but if we are to progress we need to keep our best players. I’ve never seen a player at Meadow Lane with the amount of ability Davies has on a dead ball, and we should be looking to build our side around him for a number of years. In my opinion, the £400,000 that has been quoted is pretty miserly, and I fail to see how we can both replace Davies and then strengthen the squad with that kind of money. I’d suggest it might take more cash than that to simply replace him.  However, I’m still hopeful that this rumour is simply that: a rumour.

Everything I’ve heard from Davies indicates he’s happy at Notts, and us fans certainly love him, so I’d like to think Mr Trew will give the Derby approach the dismissal it deserves. The quicker this transfer window slams shut the better.