Yesterday saw the announcement of Harry Kewell’s departure from Notts County, a mere 74 days after he was appointed as a ‘long-term solution’ by chairman Alan Hardy.
Kewell was the Magpies’ sixth manager in three years and was brought in to try and change their fortunes after one point from their opening five games saw them prop up the table at the end of August. Upon appointing Kewell, Hardy said the Australian had a ‘fierce ambition to succeed’, but the appointment just didn’t work out, the former Liverpool winger winning three of his 14 matches in charge.
To understand what has happened with the team this season, we must look back to the season just gone. Notts exceeded all expectations with a promotion push and narrowly missed out on an automatic promotion place, losing to Coventry City in the play-off semi-finals.
“What went wrong to make Nolan’s boys underachieve?”
Just before the end of last season, Hardy told us that Kevin Nolan, manager at the time, had got the best out of the players and that was why they’d done so well. So what went wrong over the summer and in August that saw Nolan’s boys underachieve?
The former Newcastle midfielder left the club after picking up just one point in five league games, including four successive defeats. After five games last season, the club had 10 points and were fifth in the table – a stark contrast.
The Magpies’ form in 2018 had not matched the blistering start to the season, registering only eight wins in the 28 league matches up to Nolan’s departure.
“Had Nolan’s narrow defeats finished as draws, would the need for change still have been present?”
However, two of this season’s five defeats were due to goals conceded in injury time. Granted, the two other defeats were big, but the opening game was a 0-0 draw. Had those narrow defeats finished as draws, would the need for change still have been present?
It seems Nolan’s success last season came back to haunt him as the team’s over achievement raised the expectations of fans. It seems if they hadn’t performed so well in the previous season, the pressure to challenge for promotion, and the consequent disappointment that they haven’t done so, would not be so prominent.
So the search for their third manager of the season begins. What kind of manager should they be looking for? The Magpies need someone to come in with a strong vision and be given enough time to implement it. They should also be looking for someone with experience and not be drawn in by big names with glittering playing careers.
We sit and wait tentatively for Hardy’s decision and hope the club’s form can improve. As often happens when a manager leaves a club, Notts’ first game without Kewell last night saw them beat Doncaster Rovers 4-2 in their final Checkatrade Trophy group fixture to progress to the knock-out stages.
Let’s hope the new manager can put together the pieces to bring the success Notts fans have been waiting for and craving for so long.
Featured image courtesy of Zoe Burgess