We’ve swung both ways on these pages as regards Phil Brown.
In assessing his League One bound Preston side towards the end of 2011-12, my co-editor presented the defence, arguing that he’s “guilty of nothing more than being occasionally annoying”. Give the man a break, dissenters were told.
On the other hand, Ben – TTU’s resident Geordie – offered a retort, describing Brown as nothing more than “a varnished Mackem with a hot-air-balloon-sized ego who unleashed his karaoke Sinatra on the pitch in celebration of our relegation is anything less than a prize tosser.”
As for this correspondent, my Dad will attest to my views of Brown’s touchline antics over the years whenever his teams have visited Home Park.
But does any one really care these days? With Brown having been out of the game for a full calendar year now – a period judged so long in early twenty-first century football as to render him at best seriously rusty – is the debate over his likeability becoming increasingly irrelevant?
Whatever your view, it would seem that Brown and his media moles are fighting back, doing all they can to keep his name in the headlines and on the lips of supporters.
Indeed, this season I’ve perhaps heard more from and about Brown than most managers in the Football League; off the top of my head – his name’s been mentioned in relation to roles at Coventry, Bury, Bolton, Hartlepool, Limerick, Blackburn and Plymouth.
And, more often than not, Brown appears to have been the catalyst of paper talk, openly praising clubs in public view and proving that he has access to Wikipedia with references to a team’s glory years and / or an understanding of its unique challenges.
Take today, for instance. On flicking over to Sky Sports News shortly after lunchtime, there he was again, offering another in a growing number of (please) come and get mes, this time to the boards of Notts County and Oldham, both freshly managerless as of this morning.
Perhaps one of these clubs’ chairmen will see fit to offer Brown an interview, but having evidently been snubbed by a number of other sides, does this latest plea perhaps represent a last, high risk, throw of the dice? For, if he fails, where next? When you’ve been overlooked by Hartlepool, Bury and Plymouth – currently some of the worst basket cases in the League – and have been slapped down after offering your services to two different suitors in one fell swoop, live on air, which board or set of supporters is going to enthusiastically accept you as their manager if it doesn’t work out?
Having openly admitted to being “desperate” to get back “in any division, with any football club” some four months ago whilst touting for the Gigg Lane gig, Brown clearly realises that his options are few.
Yet subsequent applications with Hartlepool and Limerick didn’t work out – allegedly due to financial reasons – so perhaps now is the time for Brown to in turn accept a salary package which is closer in line with that of your average lower division manager.
For all his faults, Brown still has his fair share of admirers, so – unless he wants to join that list of untouchables (members 1-4: Iain Dowie, John Gregory, Paul Ince, Glenn Roeder) – he needs to change tack by getting his head down and preparing thoroughly for jobs in private.
Because no one likes sloppy seconds.