Moore's the pity
On a weekend of whopping away wins in the Football League, the ordinarily noteable scorelines posted by Yeovil, Stevenage and Wycombe were eclipsed by Rotherham romping to a 6-0 victory over Lincoln at Sincil Bank – a result all the more remarkable for the fact that it was achieved without a manager and their leading scorer, and having been on the end of a heavy drubbing themselves in their previous match. Talk about bouncebackability. I think that probably qualifies as the “response” that caretaker Andy Liddell was hoping for…
Spare a thought for Liddell’s predecessor Ronnie Moore. Having parted company with the Millers in midweek, he could be forgiven for scratching his head in irritated bafflement. How could essentially the same team turn in two such radically divergent performances exactly a week apart? It’s curious how often an apparently rudderless side, far from steering off course and running aground on the rocks, instead steams through all before it like an unstoppable icebreaker.
Even more baffling to Moore Sr, you suspect, would have been the fact that, with Liddell taking the risky step of leaving Adam Le Fondre on the bench, Moore Jr (well, Thomas-Moore, to give him his full adopted name) claimed a hat-trick. As Mark Chapman grinningly commented on The Football League Show, pere was no doubt wondering why fils couldn’t have pulled a treble out of the bag a week earlier to help save his bacon – even if he did have a premonition that that would be the case: “I spoke to him last night“, Thomas-Moore revealed in a post-match interview, “and he said it’s guaranteed that you’ll win and you’ll score the first goal“.
The win over the Imps rocketed Rotherham back into the play-off positions, and although they’ve now slipped back out to eighth they’re still just three points adrift of the final automatic promotion spot – a fact which seems to render Moore’s departure faintly ridiculous. The Millers may have been in a trough of form but they remain among the division’s best sides, and getting blitzed 5-0 is less embarrassing than it might seem when you consider that perpetrators Chesterfield are eleven points clear at the top.
However Moore’s mistake, it seems, is to have publicly rounded on his players following that defeat, and in no uncertain terms: “If I had a gun I’d shoot them“. A sorry end for a man revered as a club legend both as a player and manager.
But what of League Two’s other newly gafferless side? At 74 days, Jim Gannon’s spell at Port Vale may have outlasted Brian Clough’s notorious 44 days at Leeds in 1974, but it was equally ill-fated – thanks in no small part to Gannon taking after Old Big ‘Ead himself, immediately aggravating and upsetting playing and coaching staff and ultimately destabilising the club.
While it was Moore’s outspoken chastening of his team that hastened the end of his reign, conversely for Gannon the writing was on the wall ever since his players happily mocked his bust-up with assistant Geoff Horsfield. Publicly humiliated, and his authority undermined, Gannon was a dead man walking.
Like Rotherham, Vale are still in with a very good shout of the play-offs despite the off-pitch upheaval, but couldn’t perform with the same freedom and renewed vigour as their promotion rivals on Saturday. The encounter with third-placed Bury ended in goalless stalemate – a disappointment on the back of a 1-1 draw at home to lowly Hereford. Next up for the Valiants? Lincoln, who you suspect might just eye their managerless opponents with some trepidation after Friday’s events…