No sooner had Craig Short put his knife and fork down at his farewell lunch had Paul Ince already been coerced into accepting a job he was refused just a few short months ago.
Of course, things won’t be so cold and calculated as that. Whilst people think Ince was already lined up prior to last Sunday’s round of phone calls, the more logical solution is that in truth the interview process of June was still fresh in the minds of those concerned.
Ince of course was a hot favourite when Steve Cotterill left the club at the end of May. Chairman Ray Trew could hardly have spoken anymore glowingly about Ince’s application if he had tried, which added somewhat to the surprise when Craig Short was appointed.
So what makes Ince, the man so many people now see as “second best”, good enough for the job now when you might be mistaken for thinking he wasn’t those months back?
Club Chief Exec Jim Rodwell was fighting Ince’s corner whilst Ray had looked at appointing Craig Short as the ideal opportunity to create the Bill Shankley bootroom ethos that had served Liverpool so well across several decades. Short was given the job, whether that aura was achieved is now debatable in truth.
In short, Paul Ince was the right man for the job, but for the wrong man. Time has passed and the Chairman has made his apologies and Ince has finally taken the job he had his eyes at the beginning of the summer.
He comes to Notts with a rather decent record in management all told. In his first role at Macclesfield he was seven points adrift of Football League safety upon his takeover yet managed to the save the club from demotion to the non-league realms.
Coincidentally, Ince’s last game of professional football came for Macclesfield, against Notts County.
His next position saw him take the reigns at MK Dons, where he won League Two, and the Johnson’s Paint Trophy at Wembley. Hardly the worst imagineable start for someone with three years management experience!
Of course, soon to follow was an ill-fated leap that anyone could’ve seen ending in tears. Ince made the jump from League One with his MK Dons side to the Premiership and Blackburn Rovers. He was sacked, after three wins in 17 games.
Of course it was going to be too big a jump, but can you really hold a man’s ambitions against him? Those same ambitions that when all is said and done, might just make him the perfect partner for Ray Trew as Notts go forward?
The sacking of Short and Kevan is a sure sign of that desperate ambition on Ray’s part. In Paul Ince, the board now has someone who will match their ambitions and who will almost certainly (despite jibes to the contrary from many) be given time to get results.
Certainly, his contract and the verbal agreements the Chairman has cited seem to suggest so.
Of course, with the sacking of Dave Kevan meant the search for his replacement. The club has struck quickly once more to fill that role by bringing in Alex Rae from MK Dons. But looking at the wider implications, having lost club legends like Short and Kevan, what does the immediate future hold for other such alumni such as Tommy Johnson, Michael Johnson, or Mark Draper?
Speculation for another day no doubt.
But here we are now, on the day of another match after yet another crazy week of speculationat Meadow Lane. A new manager, renewed hope (regardless of whether it’s ill-placed or not).
Of course, things aren’t about to start slowly for Ince, as he finds himself thrown head first into the fire tomorrow for his first game.
Southampton make the visit from the south coast themselves struggling with the inconsistencies that have dogged Notts’ season, also with their second manager of the season already.
The new man is already banned from the touchline thanks to a ban picked up during his second spell at MK Dons, whilst his team are likely to be without captain John Thompson, goalscoring talisman Lee Hughes, winger Craig Westcarr and the engine of the side Neal Bishop.
Seldom have County found themselves so short of their top quality personnel, indeed last season’s title won was very fortunate in that respect that injuries and suspension were rarely an issue.
Notts still have match winners in their team. Alan Judge has served his suspension and returns, whilst the likes of Ben Davies and Luke Rodgers are available. But once more the spotlight will likely fall on Karl Hawley, still desperately seeking his first goal of the season despite some impressive supporting performances as of late.
It’s been said enough times already though this season, it’s time to take your chance and make a name for yourself Karl!