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Friday, December 03, 2010

You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me

Struggling at the wrong end of League One, Turls looks at the latest mess Notts County have got themselves in - and whether Paul Ince can drag them out of it.

Paul Ince is the latest manager through the revolving door at Notts County

I can't help but feel as if we have been here before. It seems I'm writing an article on Notts County every few months. You'd think I'd get fed up of it after a while but, truth be told, I'm falling madly in love with this shambles of a club.

In case you've been stuck in Siberia for the past 18 months, let's give you a recap of the situation at Meadow Lane.

In the summer of 2009, Notts County were continuing to stun everyone in football with their abysmal levels of mediocrity and increasing level of ridiculousness.

Despite this, Ian McParland was backed to take the club into a new era of mediocrity and underachievement. What most people didn't know was that Munto Finance was lurking round the corner.

Of course, back then, they weren't lurking. Instead, they were inviting Notts County into bed with them whilst waving a packet of El Grande condoms and a bottle of lube. How could they resist? They were offered the world.

Of course, when they rounded the corner, it turned out that the only thing that had changed were the club's owners. McParland was sacked in October - not long after Sven-Goran Eriksson had been appointed into the much-maligned role of Director of Football.

Who cared? McParland was a nobody, the Magpies were a club on the up and weren't going to be hampered by a man who insisted that finishing third and promotion would have been good enough. What a fool he was.

Fortunately, the decision was made to hire the impressively enthusiastic Hans Backe - a man who was Eriksson's assistant during his brief time at Manchester City.

Backe brought stability to a club that was in danger of only getting promoted via the runners-up slot or, even worse, the play offs. He signed a three-year deal and there was little doubt as to the direction the club was heading under his fine stewardship.

Shockingly, Backe left after only seven league games - having accumulated just nine points. He left under a cloud having indicated that he wasn't getting paid. I can understand his frustration - you can't expect to work alongside Lee Hughes without getting paid in some capacity.

So, with the second manager having left, Munto Finance decided to do one. Maybe they were fed up of having to learn a new manager's name every couple of months.

Maybe they were fed up of having a Swedish lothario make passes as their wives and girlfriends. Or maybe they were a bunch of shifty characters all along and just fancied a run-out with a football club.

Probably not the last one though, what with them having passed The FA's 'fit and proper persons test.'

No need to worry though - the club was bought by a man who promised to save them from oblivion. All it took was £1 - probably found down the back of the settee.

In came Steve Cotterill to save the day, and he did - winning the league in the process. Good work Steve. Problem was, he was off like a shot as soon as the job was done - what with him wanting to manage a bigger club on the up. He ended up at Portsmouth though.

Craig Short was in charge at Meadow Lane for just 13 matches this season

So, they entered the new season with another new manager - this time the onerous job was given to Craig Short.

In truth, this was a massive gamble. The guy had just left a managerial gig at Ferencvaros because he didn't have the right licence, so this was his first real role as a manager.

Notts were expected to stay in the league. Sure they didn't have the money of Munto, but they still had a few nifty players in the mix.

You'll notice I used the word "was" rather than "is" when referring to Short's time at the crease.

That's because he was sacked a few weeks ago - allowing him to spend the run-up to Christmas thinking about how to decorate the tree rather than how to organise his defence.

County are now in the bottom four of League One. Why? Because they have had two years of instability. It is honestly as simple as that.

The only time they have had a manager for a sustained period of time was when Cotterill was in charge. He got them promoted. Easily.

Paul Ince is in the hot seat now. He's had a mixed start to his managerial career, but his stock is on the slide so he could do with having a good season at Meadow Lane.

After working wonders at Macclesfield and MK Dons, he was massively out of his depth at Blackburn and struggled second time round at the Dons. Now is his chance to redeem himself by keeping the Magpies in League One.

He's got the players at his disposal, and I personally think he is a good manager who needs his find his feet again after getting his fingers burnt in the big league. Does that make sense?

Poor writing aside, County are at a point in their 'project' which needs to be addressed quickly. You can't keep changing managers every few months because they're not working wonders.

You need to give them a little bit of time to bed in and get the team player. Ince is capable of that. His time at Macclesfield, too, shows that he has the ability to drag County out of the danger zone.

Five managers in less than 18 months is the work of a club that is being ran by fools. It's a trigger happy club that will suffer if they continue to sack any manager that doesn't order the right bottle of wine for the club dinner.

Ince is their man 'til the end of the season - and he'll keep County up comfortably.

So I'll see you again in March when Ince is sacked for only winning five out of ten games.

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