Notts, what’s the plan?

IN his statement explaining the reasons for manager Ian McParland’s exit on Monday, Notts County chief executive Peter Trembling referred to the new owners as having “a five-year project to deliver sustainable success to the club”.

So was letting McParland go less than three months after the takeover all part of the five-year project? Or are the people in charge making it up as they go along? I’m confused.

McParland went after the Magpies dropped a two-goal lead on Sunday to draw 2-2 at home to struggling Torquay. He left them fifth in League Two – not bad, you might argue, but still four points behind leaders Bournemouth, a team so short of players that they’ve had to stick a 15-year-old on the bench

If the Munto Finance group were hoping that Notts County’s relatively big spending would see them run away with the division, then they have had something of a shock. Defeats at Chesterfield, Barnet and Morecambe – the last of which has become infamous as the one game of Sol Campbell’s farcical stint with the club – were not part of the plan.

The timing of McParland’s departure suggests that the five-year project is, for now, a one-year project – get promoted this season, preferably automatically.

It’s an ambitious “project” – a word I can’t hear without thinking of GCSE Geography homework. In a way, I’m disappointed that the Notts County project doesn’t involve walking around Nottingham with a trundle wheel or trying to classify high-street shops into groups to gain an understanding of city-centre planning. Perhaps the Magpies’ board are saving all that up for year two.

In the meantime, climbing League Two is the priority. Trembling’s assertion that the club’s aim is “to reach the Championship and beyond” might have had a touch of Buzz Lightyear about it, but it certainly set the standard high for McParland’s replacement.

No managerial job in the Football League can become vacant at the moment without Steve Coppell, Gordon Strachan and Alan Curbishley being linked with it. Indeed, in a world where every managerial rumour is true, Strachan must have spent the last two months passing an orderly queue of chairmen outside his front door every time he popped to the newsagent.

It’s no surprise, then, to see that trio linked with the job at Meadow Lane, but the presence of Sven-Goran Eriksson in the director of football’s role has led to a few more curious candidates being thrown into the mix. Sven’s mate Roberto Mancini has been linked with the job almost daily since the takeover went through (but his agent has denied he will be coming to the Magpies), while David Platt is also a contender.

The Daily Mail, with its tongue firmly in its cheek, went the whole hog and linked Kevin Keegan, Sir Alex Ferguson and Steve McClaren with the job too.

Perhaps the most suitable name to come forward so far, though, is Peter Taylor – currently resting after being politely asked to leave the building by Wycombe last week. Taylor’s curious up-and-down career as a boss has made him one of the few men to have managed in all four divisions of English football over the last decade, so he certainly shouldn’t be intimidated by the prospect of guiding Notts County through the leagues.

But given the swiftness of McParland’s departure, perhaps Taylor would be more likely to repeat his Wycombe experience: Guide a team up from League Two, then get shown the door when things don’t go to plan at the start of the following season.

And perhaps that’s as much as any of the candidates hoping to succeed McParland can expect. Whatever the five-year project does involve, managerial stability doesn’t look to be that high on the list.


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