Trending now:   Arsenal  •  Manchester United  •  Liverpool  •  Chelsea  •  Barcelona  •  Hoffenheim  •  Juventus  •  Real Madrid  •  Borussia Dortmund  •  Tottenham Hotspur


Teams /  England  / Southampton 
Southampton have 274 fans
Paul Ince begins task of trying to realise Notts County's vision
Jeremy Alexander at Meadow Lane - 6 years ago

Paul Ince made a modest start at Notts County two days after his appointment as manager, so modest it was almost invisible. Beforehand, with the wave of a man who has done nothing but get the job, he took his seat in the stand, where he was condemned by a five-match touchline ban from last season with MK Dons; this was the fifth. Afterwards he was condemned for leaving the postmortem to his assistant, Alex Rae, who had been at Meadow Lane for half as long.

Between times County lost 3-1 to Southampton, having taken an early lead and then the rough edge of a penalty decision that also reduced them to 10 men with the dismissal of their captain, John Thompson, for the last quarter. Lee Barnard, who "won" the penalty converted by Rickie Lambert, soon enjoyed Lambert's feed for a tap-in. The third, in added time from Adam Lallana, was needlessly hard.Rae was all sunshine. "The manager was very encouraged. Until the penalty we were comfortable and with a bit of luck might have scored just before it." Karl Hawley and Thompson flashed headers over in quick order after teasing free-kicks by Ben Davies, a tricky winger whose corner had been met by Mike Edwards for County's goal. Of Ince's no-show Rae said: "It's his prerogative."

It is Ray Trew's, as chairman and owner, to fire and hire managers. Ince is County's sixth in 13 months, not all Trew's doing. "The club wants stability," Ince said on Friday with impressive perception. "Attacking-wise we create a lot of chances," though on Saturday they were without Lee Hughes, suspended, and Craig Westcarr, their top league scorer with seven; Davies has five. "Maybe defensively we are not as compact as we should be," though they held up well until depletion against increasingly buoyant opponents. New managers can raise adrenaline levels but Ince saw it differently. "It's hard for players and important to make them feel relaxed, not too uptight," he said.

Having saved Macclesfield from going out of the league, playing his last match there as manager against Notts County, he rocketed up with Milton Keynes to Blackburn, where Venky's may soon have them playing like headless chickens. He was the top tier's first homegrown black manager, matched now by Chris Hughton, the pair of them assuming charge of the league's Magpies. But after 17 league games he was sacked.

He will know how Craig Short feels, the man he replaces. Short, a club legend from their First Division side of 1991-92, had 13.

He was preferred to Ince in June, when Trew may have been playing the popularity card. In revoking so soon he has played the opposite. He made the money with which he picked up the club for £1 in February as a recruitment entrepreneur. Perhaps he is practising on County.

More importantly he has picked up their debt, sustained their climb out of League Two as champions, averted administration and embraced Nottingham Rugby Club. A year ago County were prostituting themselves for Middle-Eastern money. As the oldest professional league club in the world they may have felt entitled.

Trew is still in credit, despite the Short cut to his ambition of the Championship in three years. But the hasty injustice of his axe may be seen in the League One table. County started two points and two places behind Southampton, whose victory took them to within a point of the play-off spots, with County 10 places behind. Without that penalty decision County might have been a point above Saints.

On 30 October 2004 Southampton drew at Arsenal and County lost 5-1 at Rushden & Diamonds. Movement is life and it is livelier outside the Premier League.

Short, wise to the club's financial straits, left with a three-month pay-off from a three-year contract ? once a legend always a legend. Trew has yet to attain that status. In appointing Ince he said: "He had some big ideas [Guv'nors do] and was ready to get stuck in straightaway" ? nothing new there, though it turned out otherwise and, as Ince said on Friday: "I am going to have to sit with the chairman, which is not the best position for me." From his seat he may have seen the blot on a fine old football view above the Jimmy Sirrel stand. The incinerator, probably full of former managers, sounds to have his name on it.

? This piece was altered on 1 November 2010 to correct the sentence that said Paul Ince was the Premier League's first black manager.

This is comment. GNM does not necessarily support the views expressed.

Share your thoughts
Sign in to comment

Latest News, Blogs & Podcasts

• The 27-year-old is out of contract at St Mary’s Stadium this month• Koeman wants cover due to Seamus Coleman’s long-term injuryEverton have held talks with Cuco Martina over signing the Sout ...
The FC crew discuss whether Southampton can keep hold of star man Virgil van Dijk. It has been a season full of ups and downs for Southampton, from the high of qualifying for the EFL Cup final to the  ...
Peter Crouch's towering header won Stoke City all three points as Southampton's barren home run continued.
The former England striker gave his shirt to a fan dressed only in swimming trunks and a snorkel after the 1-0 win at Southampton
Peter Crouch made good on a pre-match bet with a Stoke supporter after the Potters' 1-0 win at Southampton. Peter Crouch's towering header won Stoke City all three points as Southam ...
The Potters frontman reached a milestone of 50 headed goals in the English top flight with his second-half strike for Stoke City against Southampton
If Claude Puel had plans of leaving with a bang then this was not it, with his immediate future as Southampton manager plunged into further doubt following a 1-0 defeat by Stoke City. Despite ultimate ...
Peter Crouch became the first Premier League player to score 50 headed goals, grabbing the winner in Stoke's 1-0 victory over Southampton.
Peter Crouch's towering header won Stoke City all three points as Southampton's barren home run continued.
Southampton Stoke City 0 1 FT Game Details Live fo ...
Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long is likely to miss the World Cup qualifier against Austria after suffering a broken metatarsal.
Preview followed by live coverage of Sunday's Premier League game between Southampton and Stoke City.
Exeter City's former Southampton midfielder Matt Oakley announces he will retire at the end of the season.
Claude Puel discusses his Southampton side's goalless draw against Manchester United. Claude Puel discusses his Southampton side's goalless draw against Manchester United. Fall guy:  ...
Sergio Romero's saves for Manchester United were the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal contest. Sergio Romero's saves for Manchester United were the only bright spot in an oth ...
The former Liverpool player is not convinced of the France midfielder's worth and believes Jose Mourinho has no excuse for this season's failings
Claude Puel is pleased with a draw against Man United, but admits they would've won without Sergio Romero's heroics in net.
Shaka Hislop reacts to Southampton reportedly ready to play hardball over the transfer of Virgil van Dijk.
Claude Puel's future as Southampton boss will be decided at the end of the season, says chairman Ralph Krueger.
Claude Puel admits Middlesbrough made life difficult for Southampton in the Saints' narrow win. Ralph Krueger insists Southampton will no longer be bullied in the transfer market and the club ch ...
Kick4Life - changing lives through football