Seeing the news that Kevin Nolan had been sacked this morning, I couldn’t help but think about the case of John Schofield at Sincil Bank. There’s comparisons between the two that are hard to ignore.
Nolan was dismissed in the wake of our 3-1 win, for those who are just getting out of bed, but the results since the turn of the year have been what did for him. He took County into the automatic promotion spots in 2017, but they fell away after Christmas to finish in a play off place. They blew that, losing in the semi-finals to Coventry City, before starting this season badly.
That sounds very similar to John Schofield’s reign at City. He had a team playing some wonderful football, culminating in us climbing to the top of the league, something we didn’t repeat until yesterday’s win. Every Imps fan of a certain vintage remembers that 1-0 win at Swindon, capping off a fine month in which Rochdale were beaten 7-1 and Barnet thrashed 5-0 at Underhill. It seemed to be the start of something great, as I’m sure County fans felt when they beat us 4-1 last season.
Instead, they’ve been tepid since Christmas and their run over into this season hasn’t improved. Schofield wasn’t backed sufficiently in his summer of discontent, but Nolan has been. Hemmings and Dennis are both good players, both look less effective than Omotayo and Dagnall for Bury. They barely linked up, complained about decisions and didn’t threaten Grant Smith at all.
Enzio Boldewijn is a real talent, but for two reasons he was poor as well. he didn’t see a lot of the ball, tactically we got it spot on and controlled the midfield battle, but also he struggled to get out of Harry Toffolo’s back pocket for large parts of the game. Toffolo is clearly a quality player and he showed some defensive nous yesterday, all contributing to County’s downfall.
Although Schofield didn’t get backed in the market, he was given more time to turn it around. Lincoln City do not usually sack a manager in August, perhaps getting rid of Peter Jackson in 2009 was the last time. We’ve had some bloody terrible managers since then, Sutton and Tilson in particular, but we kept faith for a short while. Notts County should have done the same.
When we sacked Schofield he’d been given time to get it right and hadn’t. Playing Torpey and Ryan over Forrester and Stallard didn’t help his cause, but he got enough time to show the run was no fluke. Nolan hasn’t been afforded that. He’s been allowed to spend money, sign players and yet with little under a week until the transfer window closes (again), they’re looking for a new manager.
What they’ve done, in my opinion, is write off this season already. A new man coming in might have time to turn it around, but he has to do it with Nolan’s players. Danny is always telling us that the players need to get on method, they need to adapt and integrate. We saw it with the likes of Tom Pett, he’s taken time to settle in but now he’s a consistent performer for us. How do Notts County know that wasn’t going to happen with their summer signings?
Look, I’m not arsed one way or another. Why would I care about Nolan, or for that matter Nick Daws at Scunthorpe? Football is a harsh business and the chairman of those clubs are free to make whatever decisions they want. Something is clearly wrong at County, failing to sell out the away end for such a big game is a little embarrassing (although something we’ve experience ourself ‘BC’ (Before Cowley)) so maybe there’s a current that I am not picking up here.
It just seems to me this culture of instant everything is coming to bite earlier and earlier. It’s August Bank Holiday and already three managers have vacated jobs. That’s crazy, but reflective of the ‘everything now’ society. Notts County fans expected a good season and five games in, they’re not getting it.
Would we be the same if Danny and Nicky had endured the same start? It is easy for me to say no because I wouldn’t, I supported Chris Sutton before he bottled it and I didn’t want Jackson fired either. However, there are plenty out there on social media who would turn on our manager just as quickly as they’ll interrupt him buying milk for a selfie. I guarantee it.
Our chairman wouldn’t though, Clive has an aura which I think rubs off on people. He wouldn’t react so quickly, he wouldn’t even react as quickly as a previous chairman did with Peter Jackson. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for one second we would lose so many in a row, but what about if we get promoted and face League One sides? How quickly would the ‘everything now’ generation step in and demand change?
One thing is for certain, if Notts County continue on the trajectory we followed after sacking Schofield, Pies fans are in for a long decade.