Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughJim Gannon has a second coming at Stockport - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Jim Gannon has a second coming at Stockport - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Jim Gannon has a second coming at Stockport

Things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for Stockport County since the festive period of 2008, situated in a play-off place in League One under the guise of former player Jim Gannon who had overseen a dramatic rise from the foot of League Two on a meagre budget since taking over at the turn of 2006. A play-off victory over Rochdale in the summer of 2008 saw them into the third tier and the momentum continued as they reached the upper echelons, possessing the best away record in the division before Christmas time.

However, the entry into 2009 is where the fortunes for Gannon and Stockport County changed. The club announced a difficulty with finances in March, MP Ann Coffey had to step in to ensure a stay of execution regarding a payment of an outstanding bill to the Inland Revenue as well as an on-going issue with the Sale Sharks rugby team who shared the Edgeley Park stadium. Things also went wrong for Gannon on the pitch after a touchline confrontation with his central defender Gareth Owen led to his captain never playing for the club again. Things very quickly fell apart, on the 30th April; the club went into administration after failing to foot a bill to HM revenue and customs and so came with it the obligatory ten point deduction which left them precariously close to relegation. They survived by a single point, but the debt was significant enough that administrators saw fit to trim Gannon and his assistant Peter Ward from the wage bill.

Gannon then sought his next job up in Scotland with Motherwell as Stockport appointed former Liverpool defender Gary Ablett. Ablett’s first season in charge turned out to be a disappointment as he was relieved of his duties following relegation into the fourth tier following a dismal campaign where they only won five of their 46 matches. Rocky financial waters never ceased either as the training ground was forced to be sold to repay a tax debt of £250,000. The collapse of the Stockport County supporter’s trust was a contributing factor to the financial meltdown, having miss-used a £300,000 loan on the purchase of players, the lender saw fit to pull the plug and so was born a series of false saviours. The Ablett year took place under the interest of former Manchester City player Jim Melrose, who failed to put forward any solid investment despite a series of interest and his bid to take full control was rejected by the Football League at the end of the season.

Then came a desperate measure from fan David Schofield who set-up the “2015 group” consortium who also failed to come good with significant investment as the club remained in control of the administrators. Meanwhile, the club appointed an axis of former Carlisle United manager Paul Simpson and Peter Ward, the right-hand man from the Gannon years. However, this new leadership structure ensured little continuity as Simpson was sacked on the 4th January with Stockport 21st, having won only three of their opening 15 games. Caretaker Ward stepped in to continue the dreadful form with another 2 wins from 12 games, leading to his relinquishing of duties in favour of technical advisor Ray Mathias, and after managing only five more wins which subjected them to the very bottom of the football league pyramid, he saw Stockport relegated to the Blue Square Premier League, their first ever drop into non-league football in a 106 year history.

While the club was enduring a turbulent time off and on the field, Jim Gannon set about having his own dramas and controversies which ebbed away at his reputation he had forged during his time at the Cheshire club. Despite leading Motherwell to sixth in the Scottish league with some pleasing results, he was sacked at the beginning of January following a colourful spell in charge in which he carried a vendetta against the standard of Scottish refereeing and had another falling out with a club captain, this time defender Stephen Craigan. Criticisms also centred around his choosing to commute to and from his home in Cheshire, leading to Gannon sometimes going missing for periods of time, raising questions about his devotion to the job.

A short spell at Peterborough followed in which he took over with the club bottom of the Championship, but despite visible improvement on the pitch in terms of results, more games were won in Gannon’s eleven games in charge than in the previous 28, he was unable to save the club from the drop to League One. Gannon earned plaudits for his job at Peterborough and was seen as a potential saviour if he was granted further time, but he turned down the chance to stay beyond the summer, citing his devotion to his family who were still situated in Stockport.

A short sabbatical from the game was cut short when a chance to take charge at Port Vale arose in January of this year, yet it turned out to be the beginning of an erroneous spell including an argument with assistant Geoff Horsfield, which led to Gannon leaving the team bus en route to a game with Aldershot and many fall-outs with his players, most notably a public war of words with the hot-headed midfielder Gary Roberts. After just 74 days in charge, Gannon was sacked on 21st March, two day after an humiliating 3-0 defeat at Accrington Stanley which was notorious for Gannon’s loan signing Exodus Geohagen reacting to a barrage of personal abuse by away fans, while Gannon was escorted away by stewards, an afternoon which typified the lunacy of Gannon’s disorganised reign.

At the end of the 2011 season, Stockport began for life in the Blue Square Premier with the promise of a bright future, investment was promised to be injected into the club by Liverpool business man Tony Evans, coinciding with the appointment of former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann as manager. With the prospect of high funds, it was seen as a promising chance for Hamann to cut his managerial teeth and there was a sense of optimism around Edgeley Park, however such investment was non-forthcoming and despite Hamann administering a huge shake-up of his squad, 21 players came in, 18 departed, he could only manage three league wins from 19 attempts, leading to the Germans’ 7th November resignation.

That opened the door for Jim Gannon’s return and on Monday; he was made Director of Football, ensuring his responsibility for all affairs related to the first team. Despite the spells at various clubs which seemed to have damaged his reputation as a manager, he is still revered at Stockport for his success back in the mid-2000s and the move is being welcomed in open arms by the majority of Stockport fans. The club has been through five managers in the 30 months since Gannon’s departure in 2009 and haven’t won back to back matches since that year. Chairman Peter Snape has entrusted the eccentric Gannon with the task of bringing success and continuity back to Stockport as they endeavour to climb back into the football league. It’s been a long route around for the problematic Londoner, but he’s back in his footballing home of Stockport County, whilst many neutral will be happy to see him simply back in football.

Adam Gray @MonkeyLunch21

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