Notts have stumbled from season to season with no real plan and no real direction. The club has no identity.
There has never been any real stability. Notts have had 28 permanent managers since 1992.
With Alan Hardy soon to be selling the club, here’s a list of things that needs to change at Notts if we are to make our way back up the leagues.
Board level decisions
This step is a crucial part of football and is key to the club’s future and whether it progresses or not. Decisions made by the board can make or break a club and can alter which direction the club goes in. Decisions on managers, recruitment, structure, policy and youth are all important. The decisions made on these areas shape a football club.
Notts’ chairman has to be open and has to have a clear ambition for the club and what direction he wants to take the club in. The chairman must do his due diligence on managerial appointments and whether that is right for what state the club is in, whether we are midway through the season battling relegation or we are looking longer term and appoint a manager who will build a philosophy for seasons to come.
They need to have full assurance over what they want the club to be run like. Do we need a director of football to forge a relationship between the owner and manager and to take over the football related matters that might be out of the owner or chairman’s reach? Do we need fellow board members and directors to help with the decision making at the club? All these decisions on how the club is run is crucial. Alan Hardy made a mess of how he wanted the club run. He sacked Kevin Nolan and suddenly decided afterwards he wanted a director of football and appointed Paul Hart to help Harry Kewell, only for it to fall apart after 11 games.
Ray Trew also changed his ambition a dozen times. He never stuck with a manager long enough to implement a philosophy or ambition. When Notts went down the route of bringing in foreign players and bringing a passing style of play to Notts, it lasted only a few months.
Along with the running of the club, the next Notts chairman or owner must have full assurances over finances and must make critical decisions on where to spend that money.
The first priority for Notts would be a training ground and eventually getting a scouting network in place to help with recruitment. A big turning point in Notts’ fortunes was when Alan Hardy decided to spend the money gained on an FA Cup run, on the playing squad. Lincoln, on the other hand, spent their money on a training ground. Lincoln are now promoted to League One whilst Notts are staring non-league football in the face. That is key decision making for you.
Living within your means is another problem Notts have endured during previous owners’ stints. Ray Trew and Alan Hardy both spent in the chase of success, both failed to attain this, and both times, the club ended up with financial issues. The message being for the next owner of Notts: Spend your money wisely and carefully.
Decisions on managers
For a long time now Notts haven’t really picked anyone that is forward thinking. Some managers that have been appointed have either been impact managers or shouldn’t have been given the job in the first place. Martin Allen, Keith Curle, Shaun Derry and to an extent Kevin Nolan are impact managers. They make an impact when they first come in, but they won’t take you forward. Managers like Jamie Fullarton and Chris Kiwomya shouldn’t have been given the job in the first place. Fullarton was an unpopular choice and it ended up being the last straw for Ray Trew. Kiwomya was appointed when fans were crying out for someone with at least a bit of managerial experience. Trew went with the cheap option and within two and a half months, Kiwomya left.
The board must consider the job the last manager had as well. Neal Ardley’s Notts are currently struggling to score goals, a problem he carried over from his time at Wimbledon.
The decisions on managerial appointments come from board level and for most of the last 15 years we haven’t really made a good appointment. Other clubs have taken chances on young coaches who have showed promise and it has worked because they are forward thinking and the board see the good job or jobs they have done before. Take Lincoln for example. They appointed Danny Cowley after he had steered Braintree to 3rd and a play-off semi-final with a small budget. A masterstroke of a decision from the Lincoln board.
The decision making at board level is vital. Managerial appointments are only one of the things they have to get right. However, Notts have made too many bad decisions on managers over the past decade and a half and that has to stop. A manager with good tactical ability is key as well. We’ll get onto that soon. Others include Nathan Jones at Luton, Chris Wilder at Oxford, Northampton and now Sheffield United and Paul Hurst at Shrewsbury.
Decision making is a massive part of football and something that has let Notts down consistently. Decisions need to be made and they need to be carefully thought out rather than rushed.
Part 2 - Managerial tactics and Players, Recruitment and Scouting coming Tuesday