Harry Kewell wouldn’t have been the first name on the lips of Notts County fans when Kevin Nolan was sacked and after Saturday’s debacle in which he became the first Notts County manager to get a red card, a few might be questioning it already.
If fans didn’t think things could get worse than being thumped by Lincoln and Forest Green, how about 5-1 at Exeter City with your manager sent to the stands?
Kewell’s appointment has been a little baffling from the start. Yes, he’s a big name, but not for his services to football management. He’s done less in a gaffer’s role than, say John McGreal or maybe even Michael Flynn at Newport, but he was the first name mentioned when the job became available. Why?
What had he done that was so special at Crawley? Taken them the 14th in the table? Stuck to a 4-4-2 formation long after in became effective in games, vehemently refusing to switch to any sort of plan B?
Or was he appointed on the strength of his playing career, his former clubs and his rather famous name?
It isn’t just wannabe pundits like us saying it either. Ian Holloway isn’t impressed, he said: “”I thought it was strange. They had a good season last year.
They had the success they wanted to go up but lost in the play-offs. Kevin Nolan did a good job in my opinion. I’ll always support managers. For me, [Kewell’s] appointment was a little bit strange.”
Whereas his assessment of Nolan might be a little blinkered, the sort of reactionary stuff you get from glancing at a league table and not understanding an issue, Kewell’s appointment is, in our opinion, questionable to. We can see why Nolan went, a terrible 2018 was propped up by a decent start to last season, but often clubs get found out.
That happened to County, for the first half of the season they surprised teams, but they got sussed quickly. After Christmas their aging strike force tired, Ryan Yates left and teams doubled up on Jorge Grant. Terry Hawkridge and Lewis Alessandra are both decent players, but not match winners. Boldewijn is, but he can’t do it all on his own.
Now there’s a collection of players that look good on paper, but a complete lack of coherent approach. Much the same defence as the previous season is there, but now it looks like it’s made from kitchen roll rather than granite. Dennis and Hemmings are good on paper, but neither have shown what they can do in the black and white.
In the middle of it is Kewell, a manager with no track record of success at this level and very little experience of managing a club, let alone a big one such as Notts County.
He’s said today it is going to get dark before it gets better. That might be more of a personal prophecy than a club one as there’s every likelihood a continuation of this form through to Christmas will prompt another chance.