Debate: Third boss of the season, but Stockport County’s nightmare week needed to help Hatters rise again

By Ross McLean

Fans of Stockport County have had it tough for many years now and the last week has done nothing to buck that trend.

The Hatters are languishing just above the Blue Square Bet Premier drop-zone and have seven games remaining to save their blushes and avoid slipping into non-league oblivion.

A glance at the history books shows just how far Stockport have fallen in a relatively short period of time.

At the turn of the century, County were in the second-tier of English football and during the Autumn months it looked as though a play-off charge was on the cards.

Fast-forward to modern-day Edgeley Park and County are within touching distance of the Blue Square Bet North, having brought in their third manager of the season this week.

Former Gateshead boss Ian Bogie replaced Darije Kalezic after just 12 games and less than two months in charge.

This followed the sacking of Jim Gannon – who enjoyed a largely successful first spell in charge between 2005 and 2009 – earlier this year.

The Stockport hot-seat has taken on a poisoned chalice look.

And as well as unveiling a new manager, the last week has been dominated by 30-year-old chief executive Ryan McKnight receiving a verbal volley from fans.

Angry exchanges followed last weekend’s defeat at home to Braintree and a further defeat followed in midweek to Luton Town – a top-flight team themselves in 1992.

Events have forced Stockport’s board to arrange extra security for tomorrow’s fixture against promotion hopefuls Newport County.

Following Kalezic’s departure from the club, vice-chairman Spencer Fearn admitted the board had made a mistake in appointing the Bosnian.

He lacked any experience of English football, let alone knowledge of the lower eschelons of the country’s national game.

Acknowledging errors is all well and good but there comes a time when actions not words are needed – and in this case positive actions on the pitch.

Points on the board are a priority and the only thing – in the sort-term at least – that will appease supporters. 

For fans of Stockport County there is no other conceivable option – the appointment of Bogie simply has to work and contribute to dragging County out of the mire.

Few would be more deserving as there aren’t too many sets of fans who have had more miserable decades than County’s.

Blackburn Rovers supporters are taking a battering at the moment at the hands of Indian poultry giants Venky’s.

Leeds Unted and Newcastle United followers too have endured a dose of realism in recent times after being knocked off rather lofty perches.

County’s downfall has been less documented and it is unthinkable Stockport could sink any further.

Bogie has been thrown in at the deep end to say the least, but is it a case of closing the stable doorafter the horse has bolted?

Only time will tell – the Stockport board will be hoping the former Port Vale midfielder can replicate his time in charge of Gateshead.

The Tynesiders went 12 games unbeaten after the 45-year-old joined the club and went on to enjoy a successful period with Bogie at the helm.

A similar start is likely to see the Hatters safe which would bring some much-needed relief to the club, its board and its long-suffering followers.

The days of Dave Jones, Brett Angell, Alun Armstrong and Ian Moore feel a long time ago but the next month could be one of the most imporant in the club’s history.

McKnight has already spoken of ‘tipping points’ but if the unthinkable happens it must be mused whether there is any way back.

Occasionally relegations hold longer-term benefit clubs – Newcastle came back stronger from a spell in the Championship and other teams have risen again from ashes.

But it is hard to see any tangible benefits relegation would have in this case.

At the end of the day, the next seven games could shape the future of Stockport County for years to come.

It is far from mission impossible but the first day of the rest of County’s life starts tomorrow against fourth-placed Newport.

The big question is, does this short story have a happy ending? 

Picture courtesy of Ricard 16, via Wikicommons, with thanks

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