Jim primed to fix it
Stockport have spent the last three years spinning irreversibly backwards but with Jim Gannon in the hot seat once more, County fans are eyeing improvement in 2012/13…
It was in 2009 that any modicum of stability slipped out of Edgeley Park, striding along the bedraggled parade of shops towards the town centre. County were dancing with financial ruin and unknowingly they had sown the seeds of a decline which may not yet have reached its nadir.
But it is nothing like a coincidence that the Hatters have enjoyed good times with Jim Gannon close at hand and struggled otherwise. A celebrated player in the 90s he returned as boss in 2005, guiding the club to promotion into the third tier in 2008. He left in 2009 as administration took hold but was called back into the hot seat last season after Didi Hamann’s short-lived and unsuccessful reign.
Gannon’s is a reassuring presence; his November comeback reignited belief in the club, stabilised County and put the early-season takeover talk firmly on the backburner. While the off-field situation remains less-than-settled, the Hatters and Gannon are a snug fit.
Gannon was handed an overarching control of footballing matters on his return last year. Appointed as director of football as well as first-team boss, the ship is his to steer and there will be few reasoned minds arguing with his stewardship.
During the 43-year-old’s absence from Edgeley Park both he and the club endured an unhappy time. County employed five bosses, suffered back-to-back relegations amid monetary strife while Gannon spent fruitless, turbulent spells in charge of Motherwell, Peterborough and Port Vale.
It is not often that a club stalwart goes on to manage the side to such impressive effect as Gannon. He is trusted, admired and adored in equal measure: and considered very much the right man for this testing job.
You’re getting the idea: when Gannon was reappointed, the clouds began to clear over this part of Greater Manchester. After last season’s 16th-placed finish and the early-season mess left for the new management to clear up, it would be premature for supporters to be eyeing a promotion bid but they have allowed themselves to be drawn into positivity.
After the last three years they have endured, anything approaching progress will be welcomed with the sort of relish a cast of Mancunians greeted the baggy intro to I Wanna Be Adored down the road last month.
Gannon has reinforced his commitment to youth development but the club’s budgetary cuts may throw a spanner in those works. The financial pressure which comes with Football League relegation – not to mention the severe mismanagement prior to that – necessitates significant footballing cuts. The youth systems are often the first to go: County have been forced to cut back on that front with the focus on first-team survival. Indeed, it is an anomaly of football at this level that the future of a youth scheme is in the hands of the first XI (Cambridge boss Jez George has been vociferously campaigning to change this situation for the better.)
But while the production line may have been slowed, Gannon appears willing to include young local talent in his side, with a handful of up-and-coming faces making their Blue Square Bet Premier bows during last season.
You get the impression that Gannon will have a place at the helm for as long as he remains committed to the cause, which bodes well for County in the long-term, providing the club can remain on the financial straight and narrow.
County may not have the same budget of last year but they have a more focussed vision and with a club favourite in charge can secure a top-half finish.
For more on the Blue Square Bet Premier, read our profiles of the other 23 sides during the coming days: Alfreton, Barrow, Braintree, Cambridge, Dartford, Ebbsfleet, Forest Green, Gateshead, Grimsby, Hereford, Hyde, Kidderminster, Lincoln, Luton, Macclesfield, Mansfield, Newport, Nuneaton, Southport, Tamworth, Telford, Woking, Wrexham
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