If the Championship could for one minute merely be likened to the surface of the world, as opposed to the entirety of the cosmos as Lloyd and I tend to view it, the rupture to its tectonic plates brought about by the crude sackings of Darren Ferguson and Alan Irvine has now been uneasily righted by their re-emergence at Preston and Sheffield Wednesday. Each had engineered a mini-renaissance at their previous clubs and for both Lilywhites and Posh, 2009 will be seen as a folkloric year.
Granted, Preston’s tame surrender in the play offs doesn’t compete with unbeaten league and cup doubles but it’s as good as it has gotten for them in recent times. Paul McKenna’s departure in the summer was a blow, but the middle stages of the season had been reached with the club still well within touching distance of another two legged appearance. Irvine replaces Brian Laws, who had enjoyed a relatively lengthy stint at Hillsborough (comparative centuries by modern standards) and perhaps run out of puff. The South Yorkshire club don’t have a lot of money, but the reliance on ex-Oxford defender Darren Purse proved to be a flawed strategy and Irvine could well return to plunder Lancashire for former charges Callum Davidson or Billy Jones. The Owls also need a striker and Jon Parkin might fancy the opportunity to look svelte in stripes.
The contrast between Parkin’s partnership with the almost equally rotund Neil Mellor and the shimmering Huntingdonshire trio of George Boyd, Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron McLean couldn’t be starker. If Ferguson doesn’t return to London Road to poach one of these, then we can expect Scafell Pike to erupt. Indeed, his shopping list is probably tailored to include all three.
Both bosses richly deserved a second shot of course, and many will love to see them prove their erstwhile employers wrong. They have also been clever enough to realise the transience of managerial reputations. Half a decade ago, it was Dowie, Cotterill and Newell who were getting the headlines. These two Scots know that they dare not fluff their lines this time.