December 15, 2009
Wow. After a prolonged break from my blog, the story I have to come back to is a ‘biggie’. Suddenly, the loss of our unbeaten home record just doesn’t quite cut it.
Munto Finance, the group responsible for changing the face of Notts County, have decided they’d rather remain anonymous than stay involved in English football, and pulled the plug. Then, just a few days later, Hans Backe has walked out on the club, stating ‘promises have been broken’.
Is it just me, or is there a feeling of deja vu here? Didn’t Sol Campbell leave us for that same reason? Sadly, I feel Sven will be next out the door. The club now appears to be fighting for its very existence, amid reports that there is only have enough money to pay the players for December and January.
If you believe the Guardian, which perhaps more of us should have done a few weeks back, then Eriksson is currently embroiled in a fight with the club (or the ex owners) for money which has not been paid to him. This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and Notts County without Sven is a much worse proposition.
Notts are now crying out for investment, and at least with Sven on board that investment is feasible. However, even if he stays, the club craves some kind of stability. It certainly feels like Munto were a Trojan Horse, and I have to wonder if their finances were holed up in Dubai. After all, they have also pulled out of their bid to buy the BMW Formula One team, which gives me the impression that their cupboard is bare.
Sven is at least a widely recognised face, and if he commits himself to the club I am hopeful investment will follow. That being said, I fully expect him to leave. If he does leave, the squad will be dismantled possibly even as early as January, and the top players will have to be sold. Without Munto’s backing, I have to wonder how Kasper Schmeichel’s weekly wage of allegedly £12,000 is sustainable in League 2. Kasper is at least good enough to play in the Championship, and that is probably where he will find himself.
There will undoubtedly be clubs in League One with a need for a proven goalscorer, and Lee Hughes will be on their radar. Ben Davies may be another option, and the list goes on.
Without wishing to be melodramatic, it appears the club’s future is in the balance. What is needed then is for us as supporters to pull in the right direction. Yes, we are all disappointed that the dream has died after less than six months, but I do have to wonder just how many of us are genuinely surprised? The most important thing is we have a club to support, and once again, the club really needs us.
Lets get ourselves out in numbers and show the boys we’re behind them, whether we win, lose or draw.
The club may be the laughing-stock of the English game, but they are our laughing-stock. Hell, we’ve been a laughing-stock since I’ve been going to the ‘Lane! Our home record over the last few years is enough to make your eyes water, and we’ve had more spankings than Max Moseley. Yes, I’m going off on a tangent, but my point is we’ve had some atrocious teams. Even if we lose two or three players in the coming weeks, we’ll still be better off than the Gudjon Thordarson side!
Does have to make you wonder about the next managerial shortlist though, I reckon I’m in with a shout.
October 30, 2009
So another week at Meadow Lane is over, and we’re all looking forward to the game against Shrewsbury tomorrow. But like most weeks following Munto Finance’s takeover, we’ve barely been out of the news.
Firstly, we had the confirmation of new manager Hans Backe, who will watch tomorrow’s game from the stands. Secondly, Sol Campbell brings the PFA into his fight with the club over a ‘gagging order’ (I’m sure this isn’t the first time Sol Campbell’s name has featured with the word ‘gag’ in the same sentence, but I digress…) and Peter Trembling has continued to outline his future plans for the club. I’ve described following this club as a rollercoaster in the past, and we seem to be picking up pace.
Sol Campbell’s refusal to sign the confidentiality agreement between him and the club threatens the remainder of his very career. After walking out on a five-year contract after a month, part of me can’t believe the cheek of the man. However, I have a bit of an ethical dilemma. I’m a firm believer in ‘freedom of speech’, so despite my outrage at the disdain he treated us Notts fans with, I have a great deal of sympathy with his argument, and believe he should be allowed to have his say.
I appreciate that in some businesses a confidentiality agreement is commonplace. However, football isn’t just any old business, and I have to admit to being intrigued as to his official reason for leaving. Whatever it is, I can only imagine it is about the club’s owners and the finances within the club. However, I would hope that the FA’s recent ratification of the takeover should dissolve any fears the club have of Campbell’s knowledge.
The other issue I have here is more long-term. What is to say these issues with Campbell won’t happen again with another top player further down the line? Will Campbell’s experience stop other players from signing for us? It isn’t quite a precedent, as there was a similar issue with Bobo Balde at Celtic, only he refused to leave, but it definitely isn’t commonplace. Obviously, we’ll only get the answers to my questions when we come to them, but it leaves a little doubt in my mind.
However, after reading the NEP’s interview with Peter Trembling, the doubt turns back into excitement. Trembling clearly believes that the club’s ambitions are attainable, and although we can’t see massive investment in the playing squad whilst we are in League 2, he does acknowledge the eventual target is to be challenging for the top 4 in the Premier League. I can’t help but pinch myself at that statement, considering we have almost lost our football league status in the last couple of seasons. Hell, I was at Meadow Lane against Bury in 2006, when we were minutes away from relegation! Now, the club are genuinely talking about competing for Champions League positions!
However, some of us fans (myself included) do need bringing back to Earth a little. We need to get to the big time first, which is where the new gaffer comes in.
Sven believes that Hans Backe is the man to get us there, and that’s good enough for me. Backe has already said he loves to play attractive, attacking football, which is music to my ears. Hopefully, that’ll start tomorrow with a good win against Shrewsbury and a place in the top 3 again come Final Score.
I hope we can welcome him with the loudest rendition of the ‘Wheelbarrow Song’ for many a year, and if just a few of you have the same level of excitement that I do, the atmosphere will be electric. And I can’t wait.
See you on the Kop.
October 27, 2009
So the decision has just about been made then. Sven Goran-Eriksson had built up a shortlist of managers, but once Backe’s name appeared the decision seemed to be inevitable, and the club are set to unveil him at 1630 tonight. However, is this a good appointment, or a typical case of ‘jobs for the boys’?
Many doubters appear to be unhappy as Backe has followed Sven around for the last few years, working as his assistant both at Manchester City and with the Mexico national side. There have also been doubts about his lack of knowledge in the lower tiers of the English game, the very reason I myself favoured the appointment of Peter Taylor.
That being said, I think it would be naive to doubt Backe’s credentials. Over the course of his career, Backe has won the Danish title 4 times with Aalborg and FC Copenhagen, the Danish Super Cup twice, and the Danish equivalent to the FA Cup once.
As well as this, he has also won the Scandanavian Royal League, a competition featuring the top 4 teams of the Scanadanavian monarchy nations (Sweden, Denmark and Norway).
Along with his assistant manager experience at Mexico and Manchester City, and his time at Salzburg, it is fair to say that Backe certainly has the tools to take the club forward.
The appointment has further advantages with his relationship with Sven. This will hopefully ensure the two maintain a smooth working relationship, which is certainly advantageous to the club. This will allow them to work together to sign the best possible players, and also to bring youngsters through to the first team.
My biggest concern was his lack of knowledge of the English game. However, it is fair to say that Sven has been pretty thorough during his time in England, and with a good solid British backroom, I’d like to think those fears are unfounded.
Since Munto invested, we have been advised that the club’s scouting network has considerably improved, and this will also help Backe to progress.
I am confident the place where he will exceed though is on the training field, and he should hopefully tighten us up defensively whilst continuing to play great football. He also has the benefit of managing at a higher level, and so playing in League One and the Championship (providing we get there…) will not daunt him. I for one would be unhappy if promotion meant we would have to constantly change manager, as at this time the thing we need most is a degree of continuity.
To finish then, I’d just like to welcome Mr Backe to the rollercoaster that is Notts County. I hope you enjoy the ride.
We certainly are!