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Nottingham Castle

Left Pie-On: January

8 January 10 words: Jacob Daniel
Supporting Notts County this season has been like watching Jeremy Kyle - immense fun, but deep down very, very wrong

Left Pie-On - shirt illustration by Adam PooleSupporting Notts County this season has been a bit like watching an episode of Jeremy Kyle with a big mug of tea and copious amounts of Morrisons Value Bourbon biscuits. Immense fun, but deep down very, very wrong and you should probably go and get a job and become a normal member of society again.

It's fair to say this season the Magpies have been anything but a normal member of League Two society. Whilst other sides were trying to negotiate loan deals for the dregs of Hartlepool United reserves, Notts were signing Sol Campbell and appointing Sven Goran Eriksson as director of football. Now, while the rest of the division fight to tie down their moderately impressive loanees, we find ourselves with a hefty tax bill to pay off and a transfer embargo. Hey, you've got to take the rough with the smooth.

Since Jared Wilson last did this column in October (he cites being "confused and depressed with football" as a reason for the hiatus - as if it was a barrell of laughs before this season) quite a lot has happened, lots of it good and equal amounts of it not quite so good. Manager Hans Backe has left the club and subsequently joined MLS side Red Bull New York where he can watch a standard of football even less interesting than that found at Accrington Stanley on your average Saturday afternoon. He resigned after the club's first home league defeat of the season (to Stanley in fact), citing 'broken promises' relating to a signing that didn't happen on loan deadline day. A reason spookily similar to that given by Sol Campbell when he left in September, which has left me to wonder whether Hans thought we could pull off a late swoop for Roberto Carlos.

Peter Taylor
Peter Taylor
Jim Gannon
Jim Gannon
Craig Short
Craig Short

We are yet to appoint a successor for Backe and Dave Kevan remains in temporary charge of the club as he was earlier in the season. He remains unbeaten in his post although has been on the touchline for just one game in this spell - a 4-1 win at Burton Albion. Before that, Notts had been on a fairly impressive run having picked up wins over sorry Darlington at Meadow Lane and Hereford United at Edgar Street. Lee Hughes is now well ahead in the race for the League Two golden boot, with Rotherham's Adam Le Fondre trailing him by three goals. We also knocked AFC Bournemouth out of the FA Cup at Dean Court and face a third round tie against non-league side Forest Green Rovers for a shot at Premier League minnows Wigan Athletic at Meadow Lane in the fourth round. That was possibly the first ever FA Cup draw against a Premiership side that caused audible groans across a whole city.

The discussion over who the club's new manager is going to be has taken a back seat with constant stories relating to the club's off-the-field issues surfacing almost hourly although some strong contenders have emerged for the position. Peter Taylor of England fame threw his hat into the ring early on and would appear a solid choice, having guided Wycombe Wanderers to promotion from this division last season. Steve Cotterill who has tasted promotion with Cheltenham Town in League Two has also been mentioned as has Jim Gannon, who has led Stockport County out of the basement. One of the more leftfield candidates is former Notts centre back Craig Short, who is currently manager of Hungarian side Ferencváros and doing a fair job, despite his first game being abandoned due to a riot.

Anyway, on to the slightly less cheerful and unbelievably complicated subject of the boardroom situation at Meadow Lane. Since last time out our 'Middle Eastern' owners Munto Finance have been rumbled by the Formula One authorities after trying to get a foothold in that sport, been hounded so much by the Guardian that they've had to put barbed wire around head office and promptly disappeared, handing the club over to chairman Peter Trembling for £1. Fittingly their final purchase at Meadow Lane appears to be a gadget with absolutely no practical use other than growing industrial strength cannabis; some portable lights that 'grow the pitch' and cost half a million pounds. They certainly didn't come with a defrost setting as the last three matches at Meadow Lane have been called off due to someone accidentally leaving the whole of NG2 in the freezer.

Since Trembling took charge him and Sven have been flying around all over the place trying to persuade someone to invest £25,000,000 in a football club which lists Delroy Facey amongst it's most prized assets, all for a shot at keep 'the dream' alive. This has become much more of an urgent matter with the recent revelations that the club owe £600,000 to the tax man (a matter of weeks after paying back £400,000 - just who has been left in charge doing our tax returns) and a further £900,000 to other creditors. Trembling remains confident that the situation can be resolved in the near future but he has admitted that Eriksson will be leaving the club if significant investment cannot be secured and we have to 'make do' with being sustainable!

Due to the unpaid tax bill, the Magpies have also been placed under a transfer embargo, which isn't exactly an ideal circumstance considering that our three loanees have gone back to their parent clubs and we now have a squad with just three fit defenders, one of whom is John Thompson who doesn't count. Going back home are Brendan Moloney, who has been forced to pay his own bus fare back over Trent Bridge due to the precarious financial situation. He'll genuinely be missed having impressed hugely in his time here although the club remain confident he'll return once things off the field are sorted. Daniel Jones has returned to Wolves after we politely declined following through with an agreement to sign him permanently and Matt Ritchie has returned to Portsmouth and, in doing so, become the first player ever to leave Meadow Lane and miss the financial security.

That just about sums up three months at Notts County in a nutshell although by the time you read this we may be extremely rich again and finally plotting a swoop for Roberto Carlos, this column may have been solemnly renamed 'AFC Left Pie-on' or we may have been invited back into normal League Two society. There really is no telling what will happen next…

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