Craig Short

Craig ShortManager Craig Short and assistant Dave Kevan were yesterday morning fired from Meadow Lane following Saturday’s loss at Colchester, and predictably the knives are out for Ray Trew that a Notts legend had not been given the time he needed.

Personally, i don’t think there’s a single rationally minded Notts County fan that saw this coming. In truth, we’d have all wanted Craig to have a bit longer in the job to see if he could he could get that little bit more out of the players for us to push on.

On the other side of the coin, how long might that take?

Saturday’s defeat is the fourth such occasion where County have thrown away a promising position and it was getting clearer that something needed to be done. You can only go so many games praising great performances whilst the side fails to pick up points, that much had become evident on Saturday afternoon.

And as previously stated, these four performances point to 12 points lost. We’d be sitting joint top with Brighton as things stand. In these black and white terms, Craig Short perhaps has every right to feel hard done by.

The job was Craig’s first managerial role in English football, having previously been out in Hungary at Ferencvaros. And in truth it was a shock appointment that Ray Trew and the board made back in June when you hear such quality names being linked with the job.

Pre-season was promising enough some good results and some (on paper at least) very strong signings. Ben Burgess, Liam Chilvers, John Harley, Krystian Pearce and Kevin Smith all looked to be fantastic additions to an already strong squad. The signs were good.

The club’s now regular pre-season tour of Austria was completed with a win and a defeat in Craig Short’s first games at the helm. Back on home soil, Meadow Lane saw a win, a defeat and a creditable draw with Premier League opposition prior to the season starting.

Results and displays were promising, whilst the new additions looked good, the signs were certainly there that the team would be able to hit the ground running and keep up last season’s momentum.

Or not.

Opening day at Meadow Lane, and the optimism that had built over the last three months, was crushed. Quite literally, crushed. Huddersfield Town gave Craig Short and his team the hardest possible wake up call you can imagine with a 3-0 win. Craig Short was already on notice perhaps.

In truth it took some weeks to turn things around. Some of the football was truly awful, just hopeless. But largely by the end of his run, Short’s teams had put in more performances of credit than displays of ineptitude (no less so than a fantastic victory at London Road over Peterborough in the league, and an away trip to Championship outfit Watford in the League Cup). It just so happens that too few finished with the right result for Notts.

And now, Short has left Notts pretty much how he’d come in. Out of the blue. On both his arrival and departure, all you would hear was the slight murmur of supporter’s either vying for the appointment, or now the subsequent removal.

Indeed when faced with the competition for the job from the likes of the experienced George Burley and another young gun Paul Ince, the former Notts defender faced an uphill task, particularly when trying to follow the glowing praise that Ray Trew had made public for Ince.

In some quarters, Short would unfairly never be able to step out of the shadows of the names previously muted.

Ray Trew has said on many occasions though that what Craig Short offered him during the interview process far exceeded what he had heard from the other applicants and this what won him the position.

Perhaps in moving so quickly to remove Craig from his role it could be perceived as an admission that maybe him and his board got things wrong. An opinion of mine only further enforced by Ray’s statement on the club’s Mailing List that the new man will be someone of experience.

Regardless, as we move on, perhaps the knife sharpening is a little premature?

Moving the attention to Ray Trew for a moment, he’s a man who has constantly felt the need to re-enforce his stance that he wants a second promotion this this season. This sacking is the biggest indication yet that he will ruthlessly do whatever necessary deeds are required to ensure this happens.

Notts County find themselves in a fortunate position. With nPower League One currently as it stands, things are still wide open, and anyone can win a game on any day. Perhaps any other season right now we might be looking at a lost cause? Fortunately this isn’t the case, any longer and it could all be so different.

Ray was left with two choices really. Stick it out a bit longer and hope for the best, or strike down quickly whilst we still have that chance of success this season. The playoff positions (at least) are still in our sight with a good run of results. A lot of clubs that take on new managers rarely offer such light at the end of the tunnel.

So far this season it has become clear to see that (despite such a horrific start) that Notts do have a side capable of doing some damage this year. Those missed 12 points are indicative of this. By bringing in a new man now, we’ve a chance of installing someone who might just be able to squeeze out that extra 20% out of the players to get us across the finishing line more often!

A calculated risk no question, dependent now only on who fills the manager’s dugout of course.

With all of that said for Craig Short’s departure, the removal of Dave Kevan still strikes me as peculiar. Upon first glance, you’d perhaps think Ray Trew has someone earmarked for the role who will be bringing in their own assistant?

But for all that, Kevan is still a man more highly regarded than many at Notts.

His input last season was without question one of the glue’s that kept the side together throughout all manner of the off-field nonsense that littered the squad. Ray Trew himself is on record enough times hailing Dave’s efforts for Notts.

So i can’t really shift the nagging feeling that i would’ve thought Dave had a job for life at Meadow Lane. Perhaps not strictly in a coaching role, but surely something behind the scenes.

Maybe more to this than a results-based decision then?

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Agree 100 percent Stu. Great Blog.


  2. adam love says:

    Nice blog and a balanced and fair assessment. I've got to say, like a lot of fans more than likely, I feel really sad for Short. I think if he's been employed as a inexperienced manager, then he should have had allowance in that regard. ie; He should have been allowed time to make mistakes and learn on the job.
    I think what counted against him were his signings, perhaps? What we need with Hughes out of form is a goalscorer, something we did not buy.

  3. ncfcog says:

    I think it is probably apparent that Craig Short would have accepted his job offer on the proviso of meeting certain targets. One can only assume that those targets have not been met.

    I would also ask the question was there a clause in his contract that if he was removed from his position within a certain time period compensation would be greatly reduced? If so the decision has been very much a business based one.

    I for one really hoped Craig would make a success of his opportunity, whether or not he would have is now irrelevant. He has gone and the club needs to continue to strive for the success it so desperately needs.

    I have another question; is promotion to the Championship this season essential to the financial plan the board has in place for the club. It's obvious that until we are competitive in the Championship we are not going to generate the interest, crowds and revenue the club needs for long term financial stability.

  4. Wishgiver says:

    A very good and fair blog Stu you can add me the list of fans sorry to see Craig and Dave go although I have to admit I thought after Saturdays game that he would be lucky to have stayed at Notts.
    Now that it has happened I am pleased that Ray Trew has acted now rarther than waiting till after Xmas because that would have left it too late to repair any damage to getting possible promotion and even god forbid a drop back to league two.
    Somthing was certainly not right as it was becoming a recurring theme one that couldn't be slowed to continue I just hope that some stability can be installed now so that we manage to keep our top players like Davis in the January transfer window
    As I said at the beginning I am most shocked by the sacking of Dave Kevan as he has done so much excellent work for the club when things were at there worst.
    I wish both Craig and Dave the best and sure they will both get work elsewhere
    Football can be a very cruel game sometimes and more often than not money speaks louder than friendship

  5. Stu says:

    Thanks for the comments. Great to see that we all sympathise with Craig Short and Dave Kevan :)

    adam love:

    I agree completely. You would think there would be the understanding there that would allow him that time to get things right. As many have speculated though, perhaps there was an agreement between Short and the board that targets had to be met. Would be doubtful that any targets were met considering Ray Trew's ambition for the club.


    I would say the financial plan is already shot to pieces right now.

    Ray said on NCM a few months back that he was budgeting based on crowds of 7/8,000 which we're a long way off at the moment.

    I think it would be harsh that the sacking in that sense could be seen as a desperation move, but the club needs to get supporters back through the turnstyles and it's results that'll do that.


    You raise an interesting point about Ben. He's already said he's disappointed with the sacking, so where will he stand now in January when the bids inevitably come back in?

    We're obviously serious about promotion based on this, the board will have a massive fight on their hands to hold onto Ben now i'm sure!

  6. Lloyd says:

    As you rightly state, anyone can win a game on any given day in this league, so it seems harsh to have dispensed of Short when he left Notts just four points off a play-off place with 33 games left to play. Nothing gets awarded in October, afterall, and it always takes a while for new managers to find their feet.

    From the outside, I'd also question how realistic Ray Trew's ambition for a second successive promotion is. Compared to others, Notts have spent relatively little and the signings you list don't exactly set the pulse racing.

    I'll reserve judgement until Short's successor is announced, but it all looks a bit messy from where I'm standing right now.

  7. Stu says:

    I can certainly imagine how shoddy it must look from the outside! From the outside looking in i can imagine it looking greedy to expect more than our current table position.

    Therein lies the ambition though i would assume. Ray Trew says the division is poor this season (what this says about us losing to these poor teams i don't know) and he wants out as quickly as possible.

    We haven't spent much, but on paper they've mostly been signings we've been chuffed with. Ben Burgess turned down a Premiership contract (we live in hope that his performances so far have been labored due to injury), Harley has really started to put in some great performances, Spicer is taking his chance when in the team, and Krystian Pearce is probably amongst the first names on the team sheet for me.

    The likes of Jervis and Smith are yet to fully hit their stride admittedly, but it's nice to think we should still see more from them.

  8. Martin says:

    With so much at stake, financially speaking, for winning promotion or getting relegated, it's hardly surprising that chairmen demand instant success from their managerial appointments. But to expect a concerted promotion push with a newly-promoted team and an inexperienced manager: is that bold ambition, or does it betray a certain naïvety?

    I have my preferences as to who would make a good manager for Notts County. We all do. But unless we're going to give the next incumbent the time and space they need to implement their footballing vision, then it's largely irrelevant who we choose.

  9. Stu says:

    Ray Trew said today that Short was his choice and that Jim Rodwell had backed Ince but was over-ruled. He's accepted today he was wrong to do so.

    I would hope with that said that Ray will now give the new manager (for all intents and purposes right now, it pretty much IS Paul Ince) enough time to get his house in order.

    There's nothing to say that Ray himself might even feel responsible for the start now since Short was his decision, perhaps that in itself will buy Ince a bit more time too.

  10. Anonymous says:

    are you selling your shorty photo and please change your avatar om MAD

  11. Stu says:

    HAHA! Funnily enough i looked at that earlier, realised i'm never going to be able to get it signed and thought about taking it down!

  12. Anonymous says:


  13. Stu says:

    Interesting comment, thanks for the reply.

    What makes you think that it's not over yet?

    And who would have contacted them?

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