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Page last updated at 07:46 GMT, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Loose Gannon fired for not signing Motherwell contract

By Clive Lindsay

Jim Gannon took charge of Motherwell in June
Gannon took over at Fir Park in June

It was brief, it was colourful, but Jim Gannon's stay at Motherwell ended with a Christmas present from the board that suggests that this was no marriage made in heaven.

The timing of the shotgun divorce with a manager who fired from the hip came as a surprise to most.

However, there had been rumblings from the moment the 41-year-old moseyed into Fir Park that not all was OK Corral behind the scenes at Motherwell.

Since singling out the defending of former caretaker manager Stephen Craigan for criticism after an inauspicious start to his tenure - a 1-0 home Europa League defeat by Welsh side Llanelli - there was an uneasy relationship between captain and manager that threatened to end in an old-fashioned gunfight.

One or other was destined to leave the club sooner rather than later and, until Monday, it looked like Craigan's scalp would be the one to be had.

The Northern Ireland defender appeared to be one of the "under-performing players" to whom the manager alluded in November, saying he wanted them shipped out the club in January.

Instead, it was the man born in London and brought up in the Republic of Ireland who exited first.

In between, Gannon not only dropped Craigan in favour of teenage defenders but became the kind of rent-a-quote beloved by tabloid editors.

He laid into the quality of Scottish refereeing and its system of accountability compared to the one he experienced in England, culminating in a public war of words with Scottish Football Association chief of referees Hugh Dallas.

Gannon also briefly banned himself and his players from talking to the media after being angered by the way his planned January clear-out had been reported, although he later said it was to avoid more trouble with officialdom.

Despite all the public utterings, though, it appears that it was words behind the scenes that sealed his fate, with Motherwell simply becoming frustrated with Gannon's failure to comply with their request to sign a contract.

The man made redundant by Stockport's administrators in May had taken over after agreeing terms days before that infamous July match against Llanelli but never got around to putting pen to paper.

In light of those circumstances, two former Motherwell men can fully understand why the club took the decision shortly before having to make their moves in the January transfer window.

Former Motherwell chief executive Pat Nevin said: "You have to plan ahead as a football club and have to have some direction.

"If you don't, you have to dump it. That happened while I was at Motherwell with Billy Davies, who was a very, very good manager.

"But, if the relationship between the manager and most of the board breaks down, I can understand why that has to happen."

Nevin thought that Gannon's deteriorating relationship with Craigan and other team members would not have helped.

606: DEBATE
soretoe

"It happened with Barry Ferguson and Paul Le Guen, but Steven Craigan was not the only experienced player to be dropped from a very great height and that was not going to do a lot for team harmony," he said.

"It is a shame because Jim Gannon showed that he has some talent and some interesting ideas and at times had his team playing really good football.

"His team did not have consistency, but that is normal with young lads and, if you are having a go at the team and not taking liability yourself, it can cause problems."

Craig Paterson, who played in Motherwell's 1991 Scottish Cup-winning team, thought the club had little choice.

"They must have felt they couldn't let the situation go on and that Gannon's reluctance to sign a contract meant he saw his future elsewhere," he said.

"So the club have probably said, 'Let's get this done now before it's too late'."

Motherwell still remain a healthy sixth in the Scottish Premier League despite Saturday's 3-1 defeat at home to St Johnstone being their fourth reverse on the bounce.

"I saw his first game against Llanelli in the Europa League qualifier, which they lost, and I thought he was in for a long, hard season," said Paterson.

"But he had a remarkably good start to the SPL season and his young players and loan players did well.

"That's seven games without a win, though, and if you don't have the experience in the team then these bad runs can go on and on.

"It will be interesting to see if the loan players will want to stay at the club or whether they just came to Motherwell because of Jim Gannon."

Gannon showed an ability to pluck players from the obscurity of England's lower leagues, and from Premier League reserve sides, to perform in the SPL.

Backed by soon-to-be Scotland manager Craig Levein, his endless assault on referee standards had Dallas admitting there were problems and that solutions were being sought.

Gannon was also no respecter of reputations when dealing with players who themselves might admit to be suffering a drop in form and gave some fine young players a chance to shine in his first team.

Some regarded him as a breath of fresh air in Scottish football, others say the man still adored by Stockport fans for leading them to promotion from League Two was too determined to cause a stink.

However, the most telling smoke signal came after the training on Monday.

Before order was restored when they caught sight of the waiting media, the Motherwell team bus was awash with so much communal singing you would have thought they had just ended that poor run of seven games without a win.



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see also
Brown given stint at Motherwell
29 Dec 09 |  Motherwell
Boss Gannon sacked by Motherwell
28 Dec 09 |  Motherwell
Motherwell 1-3 St Johnstone
26 Dec 09 |  Scottish Premier
Gannon gag to avoid more ref rows
10 Dec 09 |  Motherwell
Gannon targets January clear-out
05 Nov 09 |  Motherwell
Craigan tried too much - Gannon
22 Aug 09 |  Motherwell
I axed duo to save game - Gannon
15 Aug 09 |  Motherwell
Craigan responds to critic Gannon
04 Jul 09 |  Motherwell
Motherwell confirm Gannon as boss
30 Jun 09 |  Motherwell


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