As we wait for ink to dry in what seems like an inevitable march from South to North for Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven, thoughts turn to the future management of the club. There is time to look at what this means for those employed by the club, but for fans it will be about who sits at the helm. I have, for a long time demanded a plan or at least a culture at the club which hints at the identity we demand.
The rare clues we have as to who will run the first team under new stewardship stem largely from bookmakers. Now it’s entirely possible that bookmakers can be slanted by odd bets; say for instance an ex player or someone “in the know” lumps a few grand on a particular candidate you will see the odds change in a flash which may well entirely skew belief from reality. However, it’s worth donning a bookies hat and going through the runners and riders on this one in the hope that an early decision will buy us enough time to secure transfers in the window.
Premier Passions 2/1
Ordinarily a horse not fancied, but local interest makes this a key front runner. Alex Rae and Kevin Phillips formed a very close bond while at Sunderland, beyond football. Both have a huge connection with the club and would jump at the chance to lift the phoenix from the ashes. Rae may well have a win ratio that makes most football fans uncomfortable but the introduction of a free scoring centre forward and a firebrand midfielder may be just the ticket on ground that is good to firm. Their experience leaves a lot to be desired and a coach who is a goal poacher with little view of what happens behind them on the pitch puts many off, but there is no denying local fervour for the return of SuperKev as number two, tempered by the vitriolic eyes of Alex Rae.
A horse with a long pedigree of turning things around. Ignored for the big race, Wildcard has excelled in knuckling down. When the going is tough Wildcard finds his comfort zone. Under the steady stables of trainer Chris Wilder, Wildcard saw his stock rise in the lower division securing medals and trophies in the Alfreton stable chases before testing his mettle further up the divisions. Poor financial management saw his time at Halifax restrict chances and it wasn’t until his time at Oxford that his true worth was appreciated. Wildcard eventually triumphed over established horses in the division, scuppering York in the process. A steady few years with Oxford gave way to further ambition and he steered an incredible movement for Northampton from relegation contenders to champions on 99 points. Wildcard bettered this with 100 points in the Steel City as Sheffield Utd romped to the league one title. Reputed to be unsettled in his current stable with a big club swooping, Wildcard may be about to switch stables. In tough ground Wildcard may surprise a few.
Trained by Jack Ross, this is a late emergence. A very unlikely contender who has been backed, inexplicably, in recent days. The reputation of this horse comes largely from an admittedly impressive win ratio north of the border at St Mirren. Whether or not that form can be reproduced south of Coldstream remains to be seen. Ross may very well prove to be a very good trainer, but this race may be too much too soon. Very much a dark horse..
Applejack is a novice. Applejack may show great promise but is yet to be tested over this distance. Coach Michael Appleton has surrounded himself with thoroughbreds in recent years but has not yet shown any ability to get the most out of those show ponies. His terms in charge of clubs has proven more miss than hit, even signing Kelvin Etuhu did not save him. It’s remarkable to find him in this field and especially at this price, however; Applejack remains a contender.
So, there you have it, the local connection, the up and coming, the tried and tested and the “never did it anywhere else but…”. Place your bets.