Off Field Issues in the Second Flight
With stout geese about the nation’s farmyards, it’s been an explosive period when it comes to off field activities in the lower leagues. I chronicled some of the reasons behind Brendan Rodgers’ departure from Reading yesterday but that’s far from the only story occupying column inches as we await the last pre-Christmas fixtures. The following issues are also prominent:
A managerless Sheffield Wednesday
Our occasional correspondent and Football Lexicon author John Leigh is currently holed up in Italy attempting to finish a biography of Voltaire, but his thoughts are rarely far from Hillsborough. It’s been a torrid period for the Owls, with Steve Claridge showing scant sympathy for the axed former Scunthorpe boss Brian Laws in a recent BBC piece. John feels that only a short term turnaround is likely after Laws’ sacking, and admits that the side is fundamentally poor, with the previously potent Marcus Tudgay experiencing a dramatic loss of form. The camel disabling straw was the needless loan of Richard Wood to a relegation rival and Darren Purse has singularly failed to fill the gap. Wednesday’s online culture is one of the richest in the league with the ramblings of Beastie accompanied by a strong and opinionated message board presence from club Chairman Lee Strafford (somehow, one cannot imagine Roman Abramovich engaging in a forum debate on the form Petr Cech).
Paul Hart in at QPR
It’s hard not to feel that QPR’s decidedly capricious owners are not comfortable unless they have a quiet man in charge. Hart showed a lot of dignity at Pompey, a club that manages to be even more fiasco ridden than his new employers, but it’s likely his tenure will be as fleeting as that of predecessors Paulo Sousa and Jim Magilton. Hart’s best spell as a boss was during a brief flirtation with promotion at Nottingham Forest, with Marlon Harewood and David Johnson gunning on all cylinders. Since then, his record is very much below average – few leading gaffers have an eight match winless run at Rushden & Diamonds on their CV.
The collapse of Watford’s rescue bid
Apart from during Gianluca Vialli’s spell in charge, Watford have been far from profligate in recent years, but any club that has had a spell in the top flight will tell you that the elephant in the room is players’ wages. Frugality can be exercised in the transfer market but top flight players demand top flight wages and a subsequent relegation is a debilitating experience to recover from, parcahute payments notwithstanding. Now former Chairman Jimmy Russo has said he’ll put the ‘Orns into administration, having refused to defer payment on the near £5 million loan he provided. A ten point deduction should see Watford remain above the relegation zone and it’s been an encouraging enough season under Malky Mackay to assuage serious fears of the drop, but Graham Taylor’s comments are, as the former boss Vialli would have said, spot on.
Milton Keynes’ Day in the Sun?
A disgrace…pure and simple. Do these people have no principles, no memories? Ok…it’s strictly not a Championship issue but I’ll never go to MK Dons to watch a match and I’d even think twice about watching them in a home game as that would support their right to exist. It’s enough to lead one to actively oppose the bid if it were not for the encouraging “out of the box” thinking that saw Plymouth and Bristol selected.
When Friday, Saturday at 5.15, and Monday Come
On a lighter track, our aforementioned temporary Italian based correspondent John Leigh points out to me the rarity of a Newcastle United game taking place at 3pm on a Saturday – very difficult for the fans to plan for and evidence that the Magpies are being treated as a de facto Premier League club, simply on loan to this league. Newcastle deserve major credit for picking themselves up, dusting themselves down and performing so well after the travails of the short Shearer era, but that telly money must be mighty handy.