23 March ~ When Burnley finally decided to "release" Brian Laws from his contract in December, many Scunthorpe United fans began to fear the worst. It wasn't long before he was turning up at Glanford Park for games, sitting below the directors' box, quite possibly with a neon arrow attached to his back.
The strange thing about Scunthorpe United is that we are not a sacking club. Laws had nearly ten years as manager before moving on to "greater" things and Nigel Adkins did superbly for the next four years before, again, moving on to "greater" things a league below. Ian Baraclough must have felt fairly confident of a lengthy spell in charge.
Unfortunately the seeds of relegation had been sown in the summer with the sale of Gary Hooper to Celtic and, more seriously, allowing striker Paul Hayes to walk away. The loss of midfielders Grant McCann and Matt Sparrow (to Peterborough and Brighton respectively) was also a blow. That these players were never adequately replaced was, perhaps, a major factor in Adkins leaving – Scunthorpe United cannot, and will not, spend big money on players. Baraclough was left with, at best, a League One team and it was plain to all that this is exactly where we were heading.
This realisation manifested itself in dwindling crowds rather than booing and protesting – there doesn't seem any point – at the lack of skill and creativity on show, from both the Iron and visiting teams. The Championship really is so poor this season that it is doubly depressing that we cannot even string one win together.
So, no booing, not much pressure on the manager from the crowd – why, then, the sack for Baraclough? It came after a pathetic 3-0 defeat to bottom-of-the league Preston, our game in hand which, if won, would have taken us to within one point of Crystal Palace who were a place outside the relegation zone. The crowds reaction to the performance was extraordinary – cheering the opposition, laughing at our own ineptitude, celebrating throw-ins and corners as if they were promotions. You can boo and jeer all you like but, it seems, the way to make a board of directors bristle is to take the piss.
So if Laws, who, it is rumoured, is to "help" chairman and great friend Steve Wharton in the selection process for the next manager, does manage to get his feet under the table again he had better be prepared for quite a lot of piss-taking. Mik Henry