Anyone who doubted football’s capacity to surprise, startle and dumbfound will surely have had their views shaken by the events of the last week. The highest-profile stories, of course, were Wayne Rooney’s dramatic volte-face, reneging on an apparently unequivocal statement of intent to leave Man Utd and signing a new five-year deal, and reports of Pompey’s imminent demise, which – according to Sacha Gaydamak at least – turned out to be nothing more than manipulative public mischief-making by the administrators at the expense of the fans’ nerves.
Events at Old Trafford and Fratton Park dominated the media, but lunacy was equally in evidence at Meadow Lane, where just five months into his tenure as manager Craig Short was given the boot by Notts County – a bizarre decision for several reasons.
The Magpies (East Midlands division) have won five of their 13 fixtures thus far, including the last four home matches – and, lest we forget, last season’s League Two champions could be fully expected to still be finding their feet at the higher level. They may be five points off the foot of the table, but in a very tight division they’re also four off the play-offs.
Perhaps most significantly, though, the axe was wielded by owner and chairman Ray Trew, who swept into Meadow Lane after the insanity of the Munto Finance and Trembling era with his spokesman vowing “we want to bring some stability to the club”. So much for stability (and living “in the real world”): the new incumbent – due to be announced tomorrow and rumoured to be former MK Dons and Blackburn boss Paul Ince – will be County’s sixth manager in little more than a year.
A shell-shocked Short has pleaded his case, but with admirable dignity and no malice or bitterness. How long before his replacement finds himself doing the same?