The Michael Wood Column

Wednesday 02 January, 2002

Nothing to lose and everything to prove

We never try to be out of step or hold contrary opinions but it does seem that BfB is the only Bantam based publication who are pleased to welcome Nicky Law to Valley Parade.

The T&A have greeted him with a lukewarm response, writers to the Thursday City page are unimpressed with the whole Jim Jefferies/Stuart McCall/Geoffrey Richmond affair and there seems to be a general feeling that Law is a nothing of a choice.

Not here at BfB.

I can imagine Geoffrey Richmond holding his list of potential managers and dividing them into his three pots. First timers on one side, foreign coaches on another. Nothing much impressive on any of them. Steve Coppell has retroactively been fitted as "The Fan's Choice" by some. The mind wonders.

Had I been Richmond I would also been dividing the CVs into piles.

  1. No experience
    Anyone who has never managed a football club before would be ruled out for fear of a Chris Hutchings Mk2. Coaching is a different skill to the big chair and as such requires a different set of characteristics, as Hutchings proved. Stan Collymore would have got through by virtue of the fact he had a senior football man as an assistant.
  2. Been sacked before
    There are very few exceptions in football to the rule that if a manager has been sacked then it is probably because they are rubbish at there job. Peter Reid was axed by Man City for not being able to take them beyond 5th place in the Premiership. Sunderland have set their sights on more than just midtable at the top table and guess who comes under pressure. There are managers who have bounced back from being sacked because results were poor, but not many and I doubt that any of them were on the pile of CVs GR had in front of him.
  3. Desire
    Paul Jewell said then he was motivated in management because he never did as well as he should have done as a player at Liverpool. If the CV does not scream "I want your job because I want to go on to manage the Kings of Europe" then is they guy worth having?
  4. No heart
    The one think that stopped Jim Jefferies at City was that which he left at Hearts: His heart. Jim's hearts never was in City the way it had been with the Scots side. To use the dating analogy, we got him on the rebound from a serious relationship and if we had listened to our best friends, we would never have gone near him. Sure it all seemed like a good thing but as Tanya Donelly said "If your heart is not on my side then you're not on my side".

    Roy Evans got out of this because of his link with Stan but the reason why one would never give Evans a job on his own merits is because he is still in love with Liverpool. He would be Jimmy Stewart, we would be Kim Novak, and we all know how Vertigo ends.

Nicky Law passes all four of these tests. He is not holding a touch for Chesterfield or any other club, he has shown he has some raw talent and that he wants to better himself. No one has ever sacked him so he is not damaged goods and on top of all that he comes in with a ready made backroom staff. Had I been GR, I would have gone after him too.

All of which is not to say that Nicky Law is a good appointment. Nicky Law will have been a good appointment if he gets City to the top six of the First Division the next 18 months. Like Paul Jewell, a spectacular failure of an appointment at the time, the decision to appoint Law will be made with 20:20 hindsight in years to come.

Jim Jefferies was a great appointment. Everything was right for Jim and GR should still be given a pat on the back from bringing the Scot in. For what it is worth I would assign much of the blame in JJ/GR on the Scots manager.

Jim Jefferies bleats about not having funds to spend. He took over a team with unmotivated quality in it that was not even at the basement of the Premiership. IF Jim wanted more funds to buy players then he could have had them, provided he made a decent fist of his team in the top flight.

So Nicky Law. A manager with nothing to lose and everything to prove.

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