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Joe Jones

Joe Jones: Alan Hardy's first six months at Notts County have been near-flawless

So it's been six months since Alan Hardy took over Notts County, and even the most cynical Notts fan out there (I'm up there so I know what I'm talking about) cannot deny that the club is now in a pretty healthy state of affairs.

The four-year period between early 2013 and early 2017, when the club deteriorated to the point it was looking like a possibility that we would be following the Magpies in the conference, or in the ninth tier as a phoenix club, is now pretty much a memory which can thankfully be reminisced - if the will is there, not that anyone would really want to - as "the bad old days".

I mean, we've gone from moaning about consecutive defeats, possible relegation and whether we would have a club to support next season, to moaning that Alan Hardy's social media manner is a little bit unpolished. Talk about luxury!

Seriously though, along the last six months there have been things that I may have somewhat been less than impressed about, but in hindsight it turns out he was right.

So as a recap, let's have a look at the key things Alan Hardy has done and overseen as Notts owner.

- Bought the club and settled the various debts, saving the club from administration and possible liquidation
- Brought in Kevin Nolan, a relatively unproven manager who has been a sensation at Meadow Lane and has the potential of becoming one of the club's great gaffers
- Invested in new training facilities and a new pitch
- Developed a good working partnership with Nottingham Forest, which is handy to have (I'll still insult their fans though and I expect them to do the same to me)
- Established the club as a great place for young academy players to come on loan
- Pulled off some good transfer moves, not least the loan return of Jorge Grant, plus the retaining of the likes of Jon Stead and Shola Ameobi, who could very much still do a job in the Championship / League One, truth be told!
- Made Meadow Lane a fun, enjoyable place to come and visit again

Now, the one notable thing I haven't yet mentioned is the one that I personally had issues with at the beginning, and that was the folding of Notts County Ladies.

Yes, it was a massive shame to see the Lady Pies - the only Notts team to get to Wembley this century - cease to be, and I was even more gutted for the players to all of a sudden be out of work.

But the sad thing about business is that it isn't always rosy, and difficult decisions have to be made from time to time. And the truth is, Notts Ladies were simply unsustainable in their current form and there just wasn't enough interest in them besides a hardcore niche of followers.

It fell to Hardy to have to make such a decision in the interests of the club as a whole, and he's gone on record multiple times to express how heavy-hearted the decision was, and also that several aspects of the decision were made in the best interests of the players - folding before the start of the season to ensure none of them would be cup tied and not allowed to sign for any clubs, for example.

However, Hardy's interest in the women's game remains, and his subsequent setting up of a Notts girls' team for young age groups with a view to developing from the ground up is a definite sign of intent to do it the right way.

So, all in all, I would say Hardy's first six months at the club have been nothing short of a resounding success.

Most of his critics - and you can't blame there being critics, bearing in mind how poorly the club has been run at multiple times in its recent history, hence the skepticism - have been silenced, either via him toning it down on Twitter or through a number of signings which have led to people saying "ok, fair play", or whatever else.

So with the new season just days away, I am as optimistic as I have ever been as a Notts fan, and let's hope that, over the next nine months, the pressure and nerves are at the right end of the table, and off the pitch, it's so calm that we can afford to moan about the queues at the bar or the beer not being cold enough!

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Edited by Joe Jones

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I wouldn't say near flawless at all. Granted there have been a lot of positives, but he really upset a lot of supporters when he voted against their wishes on the Checkatrade trophy and also decided to mess with Lifeline, the one thing that shouldn't be touched!

Also, using a fan meeting to go to the press with and fabricate a story out of it, hasn't gone down well with a small minority of fans.

Finally, the boast that we will be signing quality over quantity and then going and signing up a bunch of trialist nobodies these last couple of days has just made a mockery out of the whole summer transfer policy.

First 6 months deserves a solid, but unspectacular 7/10. 

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I think its better than that of what quite a fair portion of fans would have you believe. Every owner makes decisions which we will agree with, I was very disappointed about the ladies team but the reasoning Alan Hardy gave made it very difficult to argue with.

He's breeding confidence into the club, albeit some questionable interactions on Twitter but it's certainly more 'rosy' than anything we've had for the past 3 or 4 years.

If we do well this season, people will judge him less but if we struggle - he better take cover.

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