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The Payne game: Paying the price in the ‘impossible job’

Some panel: Scholes (left), Gary Neville (centre) and Keane watch last Saturday PICTURE: PA

FOOTBALL owners get a bad rap for not knowing much about the game but that is not an accusation you can throw at Salford City.

All great players but a mixed bag in terms of management experience. Paul Scholes lasted 31 days at Oldham (won one, drawn three, lost two) and Gary Neville was lucky to last four months at Valencia with the lowest La Liga win rate of any manager in their history.

Ryan Giggs has done well with Wales, Phil Neville maybe less so with England Women, David Beckham is more into owning clubs than managing them and Nicky Butt is key to Manchester United’s academy.

Together they are partly responsible for one of the more left-field firings of recent times, Graham Alexander removed this week 233 days after his last league loss, with Salford fifth in League Two.

Gary Neville once suggested in a 2014 tweet managers should be given two-and-a-half years. Alexander got just about that, winning promotion into the Football League in his first season and reaching the EFL Trophy final in his second.

Their form had tailed off last term meaning they didn’t make the play-offs in a truncated season but, given their positive start, surely there must be more than meets the eye than just blowing a 2-0 lead to draw at home to Covid-hit Tranmere.

It has led to the resurfacing of the accusation — particularly with Scholes named interim boss — of Salford being a vanity project. It is certainly not unusual for a supposedly reluctant caretaker to land a job full-time after a few wins.

The bookies don’t see Roy Keane’s weekend presence as a coincidence and make him the favourite to be full-time boss.

The other obvious candidates would be advised to tread carefully. Richie Wellens, a promotion winner at Swindon, is a Mancunian whose son Charlie has followed his steps into the United academy.

But as Alexander has just found out, any new man has a virtually impossible panel to satisfy. Which makes them just like every other club despite their esteemed owners.