Transient Reputations

Posted by on Jan 9, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. Lloyd
    January 9, 2010

    Irvine could well have the same positive effect on Wednesday as Brian Laws did when he replaced Paul Sturrock.

    As for PNE, I don't think they have any money. From what I've read, Irvine left because after being instructed to sell in January he told the Chairman they'd be relegated. Maybe Fergie Jr can wheel and deal, but I doubt the Posh Chairman will be open to offers on the prized trio.

  2. Ben
    January 12, 2010

    I was going to post on exactly this subject until I discovered you'd beaten me to the punch…

    Funny the way the wheel of fortune turns, isn't it? Ferguson's departure of Peterborough was bizarre, but he's now with a club who have a much better chance of staying up.

    Irvine was very unlucky to lose his job – OK they were on a poor run, but it's just another case of a chairman with an itchy trigger finger. He'd been doing a decent enough job, and in any case what does Derek Shaw expect when his captain and best player is flogged off to Forest and then he's given precious little money to spend on strengthening the team?

    And now another twist – Brian Laws, sacked by Wednesday, might be about to walk into the Burnley job. From a Championship failure to a Premier League manager – how exactly does that work?! Whether Laws is appointed or not, I see Burnley going down – sooner rather than later they're going to get beaten soundly at home and with the prop of their home form gone they'll sink very fast indeed.

    And as for Preston's striking duo of Parkin and Mellor – the fattest in the league?


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