NEWPORT County fans will be forgiven for feeling like the season starts now after their much improved performance and important point earned against Burton Albion at Rodney Parade on Saturday.
Four defeats, three in the league and another in the Capital One Cup had seen some Exiles fans predicting an unprecedented level of doom and gloom ahead as the feel-good factor from last season definitely evaporated.
However, there is still a positive playing environment at Rodney Parade for every home game. Despite County’s predicament, supporters ensure they don’t get on the players’ backs once the game begins, irrespective of the gnashing of teeth and cries of what a load of rubbish by fans between Monday and Friday.
That’s really commendable and was even commented upon by Burton boss Gary Rowett. And Newport’s passionate fanbase will no doubt anticipate the coming week with great interest.
It is that time in terms of squad tweaking, the transfer window not closed until the end of the month and one must feel the goalposts have moved for the Exiles.
The news that striker Rene Howe is out for possibly the remainder of the campaign is a bitter blow for manager Justin Edinburgh and he may now conclude he needs to reinforce the entire spine of his side.
The manager was already keen on a defensive and midfield acquisition, on the proviso he could move a couple of players out, but now the Exiles will surely also covet another attacking player.
Edinburgh has under a week to do permanent business and bearing in mind the financial restrictions on League Two sides, perhaps it is more prudent for County to really do their homework in terms of potential loan arrivals.
Edinburgh has always in his time at Newport exhibited a preference for permanent over temporary acquisitions, opining that it helps to provide more stability at the club and it is hard to argue that logic.
However, County must cut their cloth accordingly and they should be laying the groundwork now to identify the next Karl Darlow, Deji Oshilaja or Alex Gilbey, a loanee who can really improve Newport’s first XI.
We can’t kid ourselves into believing everything is rosy at County just because they’ve put a point on the board, but similarly we shouldn’t dismiss the achievement, especially as it came against a Burton side in rude form and almost certain to challenge for automatic promotion this term.
County have a tiny acorn, now they just need to work out a way to let the tall tree grow.
And a signing or two in the coming week or some loan movement in the next month or so; might allow them to move forward more confidently.
HOW does Malky Mackay return to the game after the furore over his text messages?
The basic answer is he doesn’t.
I’m forever using this forum to bang on about second chances and football being bound, like any profession, by the laws of the land, but I can’t honestly see how Malky can return as a Premier League, or even Football League manager. The bottom line for Mackay is that he’s in the business of being a number one, the person on the football side of the club that everyone else looks to, for everything.
A manager must inspire, motivate, represent the club in commercial, business, football and media endeavours and they must be the person who dishes out discipline to the playing personnel.
In the short term, that’s simply impossible for Mackay.
He can’t walk into any dressing room and command respect and he’s created ill-feeling throughout the game.
Former Wales goalkeeper Jason Brown has already stated Mackay “Shouldn’t manage again,” and you can’t believe he’s a solitary voice from within the sport.
Too many players have lost trust in Mackay. There is no possibility for him to be given the respect required to manage a football club when the perception of him is that he is a racist.
It’s easy to say you aren’t a racist, but the texts between Mackay and Iain Moody were shameful and Mackay has acknowledged using racist language about his own players and chairman.
That’s impossible to come back from.
Mackay’s only route back into football now is to work somewhere in a coaching capacity, not as a number one and work in an environment where he can make a positive impression and build a relationship with players from within the club, working his way back up, so to speak and earning people’s trust.
However, as much as Mackay deserves negative scrutiny he’s facing, are we really living in a world where Cardiff City are the outraged bastion of decency?
Whatever the lawyers paid by Cardiff found on Mackay’s phone, they are still the club that promised fans they wouldn’t change the shirt colours and then did and the club who live at the risk of administration and financial meltdown but for the whims of an incredibly eccentric owner (by his own admission).
All the faux outrage in the world won’t heal the rift between Cardiff at board and terrace level and that can’t be so easily forgotten.