Managing director John Nixon on the ongoing appointment process
Managing director John Nixon spoke to us about the importance of getting the appointment of the club’s next first team manager right as he also revealed that applications are still coming in, with the process of selecting an interview shortlist at a very advanced stage.
“I think everybody reads the reports and the names we have been consistently linked with are there or thereabouts,” he said. “Funnily enough, we had an ex-England international, who played over 30 games for his country, get in touch with us as late as Wednesday night.
“As a player he had a very good career in the Premier League, and with the national team, and he’s been working his way through the ranks in youth football and in other coaching positions since then. That shows the standard and quality of the applications has been very high all the way through.”
“On the flip side of that, one of the applicants who had made it onto our long shortlist called me to tell me he was no longer interested, and this was at almost the same time last night,” he revealed. “We’d got as far as talking to him and his club, but the call to tell me he was pulling out came at around 4.40pm.
“It’s a dynamic situation, things happen to change the way you’re moving all the time, and you just have to make sure you’ve done your work so that you’re in a position to react and act accordingly.”
“In terms of timeframes, the situation remains the same, as we speak,” he told us. “I’ve spoken to Tony Caig and Paul Thirlwell and they know they are likely to take the team into Tuesday as well as for this weekend.
“I have a Football League Trust conference at Carden Park on Monday and obviously Tuesday will mostly be taken up with our away game at Shrewsbury.
“That means we are probably looking at Wednesday for us to start to work towards a decision. That’s a week later than we planned but I genuinely hope we’ve made a clear indication to someone that they are our chosen candidate by next Saturday.
“Whether or not they take charge for the game at Mansfield is another matter. That depends on a number of factors including whether or not they are currently working, whether or not we can get a release for them if they are, and how long it will take for them to move into post. We have to appreciate that there could still be one or two hurdles to get over, even when we reach a decision, but we’re prepared for that and we’ll deal with it when it comes.”
On the importance of the decision at hand, he said: "I think every appointment of this kind is important because of the job you’re asking the team manager to carry out.
“Looking back through my time on the board, we made a real play for getting John Ward into the club, when Paul Simpson moved on, because we felt he would be the right type of person for the club. He turned us down at that point, but it worked out quite well because Neil McDonald came in and carried things on.
“When he left, after just over a year with us, we were in a position where Greg Abbott was able to see things through for a short period of time. John Ward did take over for us at that stage and, when it came time for him to leave, Greg was almost his natural successor. It was the same kind of thing with Graham Kavanagh because he knew the squad and it also appeared that he’d turned things round for us with the results and management style he brought in. All of those appointments were made because we felt they were the men who could do the job.”
“Things feel a little bit different right now because we’re making an appointment at a time when the club has one foot above the trapdoor,” he explained. “With Paul Simpson, we were already rock bottom and survival with him in his first season would have been a huge bonus. He actually almost achieved that for us from what was an awful position.
“Right now, we’re looking for someone who will come in and turn the momentum round again. The reason we made a move after the Cambridge game, as I said at the time, was the manner of the defeat and the fact we couldn’t see a change in the direction we were going. Somebody has to come in who will stop the downward slide and get us pointing back up the league.
“I have to say that everybody I’ve spoken to, on our list, has been confident they can take this club into the top half and possibly even aim for the play offs. I don’t think we would consider anybody who wasn’t saying that kind of thing to us. The task now is to make sure we are thorough to give us the best chance possible of getting back to where we feel this club should be.”