Ian Richardson is still very much a player thrust into management, but he's not made a bad start. A player at Notts County since arriving from Birmingham in 1996 – he has made nearly 300 appearances for the club, and found himself as player/manager on a caretaker basis following the departure of Gary Mills in November 2004. It could have been an inspired choice as he is considered black and white through and through, is Notts County's longest serving player and has the backing of the supporters 100%. He didn't let anyone down and following 14 games in charge, during which he led the club out of the relegation zone with a record of five wins, three draws and five defeats, he was given the full time role.
He said, when appointed:
“I'm delighted to have landed the job full-time. The effort and desire to improve has been fantastic from everyone at the club, and hopefully we can build on what we have already achieved. I would like to thank the lads for their efforts so far and all the coaching staff too. We will now be aiming to keep our little run going."
Magpies chief executive Patrick Nelson reiterated the point
"Ian, assisted by John Gaunt, has done an excellent job so far in his first managerial position, and we are delighted to confirm that we have offered him the position for the rest of this season. With Howard Wilkinson [he rejoined as Director on 30th December] to call on for advice, and a good staff, Ian has every chance to make the position his own beyond this."
Looking at evidence so far, he has the makings of a manager, the question is how he balances the difficult position of playing and managing at the same time – we'll find out by the end of the season.