IT was a bit of a surprise to see Brian Laws lose his job at Scunthorpe. He called it unwarranted, and I have to agree.
Yes, they got knocked out the FA Cup by a Non-League club in Grimsby Town. But the rivalry between those two clubs meant it was always going to be very close. In a derby, it doesn’t matter what division you’re in.
And when you look at the League Two table, Scunny were five points off the play-offs and not a million miles away from automatic. After a bad start to the season, it really looked like Brian, below, had turned it round.
I did expect that they’d be pushing for promotion before the end of the season, but it just shows you how close to the wind managers sail these days.
Scunthorpe is one of my old clubs as a player, and I’ve always found it a really friendly place to go.
But the fact is, where they are now is probably par for the course. They were always punching way above their weight in the Championship. With the resources they’ve got, even holding their own in League One is asking a lot.
So how they survived in the Championship under Nigel Adkins, I’ll never know. I remember the year we got promotion with QPR. We were beating everyone that season, but we went up to Glanford Park around Easter time and they put four past us.
The owner at the time, Flavio Briatore, rang me up pretty much on the final whistle. He was beside himself, absolutely apoplectic – you’d have thought we’d lost World War III, not a football match!
But it just showed how good they were – they could beat anybody on their day. It was fantastic for a club of their size to be there, but they could never sustain it. I just hope the new manager hasn’t got to deal with unrealistic expectations.
As for Brian, he’s someone I know well. He was Sheffield Wednesday manager when I was at Sheffield United. We had some battles down the years and we get on very well. He’s a nice lad who deserves another crack somewhere.
FUMING FERGIE MAY FLOG A FEW
I HEARD Darren Ferguson’s interview after Peterborough lost to Walsall on Monday night, and he sounded furious with his players.
You don’t often see Darren as mad as that. He’s usually a very calm and collected young man. So it really must have got to him, as it does all maagers when you expect more.
A defeat you can take, but a defeat when your players haven’t performed to potential is infuriating.
I would imagine there’ll be a few changes to his team over the next few games. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few heads rolled in January too.
TOUGH FOR STYLISH CREWE
CREWE are really struggling at the minute, but that’s life for them I’m afraid. The way they play, they’ll always find it difficult outside League Two.
The club is geared to bringing kids through and playing good football, regardless of the division. And that comes at the expense of results sometimes.
They keep passing it around at the back, keep pressing, irrespective of who they are playing against. But the higher they go, teams are physically stronger. That’s why they get batterings sometimes.
They haven’t got the presence. You saw that at Brentford, who overpowered them and won 5-0.
But if you’re a Crewe supporter, I think you understand and take it on the chin. Which is easy to say, but hard to do if you are hammered three weeks on the trot!
WHEN I was at QPR, we took a good look at Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, above, the big striker who’s banging them in for Bristol City.
He was at Arsenal then, and had bags of ability. On talent alone, he could easily play at the top level. I don’t think anyone in football would question that.
The problem has been consistency – he just didn’t produce it enough. Now he’s got that and if it continues, he won’t be at Bristol City in January.
WHY NO ONE IS GOING TO CATCH WOLVES
I CAN’T see anyone knocking Wolves off the top of League One. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think anyone will even get near them now.
Why? Two things. One was last weekend’s result against Notts County. They didn’t play well but won 1-0, a sure sign that you’re in good shape.
The other was getting knocked out of the FA Cup by Oldham on Tuesday night. On the face of it, that’s a poor result.
But believe you me, Kenny Jackett does not want to be in that cup. Yes, he might have liked to play some fringe players and what not.
But when you’re a manager and your team is going for promotion, the last thing you want is extra games. In that division, you just can’t handle it.
That’s especially true of Wolves. They’ve come down two divisions in two years, they’re carrying a massive wage bill. It’s essential that they get back up to the Championship at the first attempt.
And looking at the squad, it’s difficult to see past them. Mind you, I said the same about Sheffield United. I thought they’d be right up there with Wolves. But right now, they seem to be going from one crisis to another.
Losing to Gillingham last week was a major blow, and what must the fans have thought when Gills went out of the FA Cup to Brackley?
It’s tough times at Brammall Lane but Nigel Clough will turn it round long-term, I’m sure of that.