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The Payne game: Sky’s the limit after a Stag-gering coup

Thumbs up:
Clough has made an
instant impact
at Field Mill

YOU can generally tell when a football manager is in the market for a job. They head for television studios to remind us, and club owners, of their knowledge.

This month alone Mick McCarthy, Tony Pulis and Nigel Clough have gone from keeping up their profiles on Sky Sports to landing jobs at Apoel, Sheffield Wednesday and Mansfield respectively.

You would think the likes of Lee Johnson and Paul Cook will also benefit from the audition process before too long.

Cook suggested bosses have to consider any offer that comes along at the moment but, even so, for Mansfield to have landed Clough appears to be an extraordinary coup.

It took just the one afternoon with Jeff Stelling on Sky Soccer Saturday for Clough to remind everyone of his availability having honourably decided his wages — and those of trusted assistant Gary Crosby and brother and chief scout Simon — were the ones Burton could least afford in the summer.

With Graham Coughlan sacked after winning just four of his 27 games in charge, the Stags’ youthful chief executive David Sharpe should be patting himself on the back for moving so quickly to land a man whose track record surely demanded a Championship job rather than one in the nether regions of League Two.

Plenty of Derby fans would have been more than happy to have had him back after Phillip Cocu was sacked last weekend given the way he steadied the ship the last time they were in this much turmoil.

Instead Clough will be hoping to make it four wins out of four at a club who hadn’t previously won all season when they host Colchester tonight, even if he is at pains to credit the first of those — their FA Cup victory at Sunderland — to caretaker boss Richard Cooper.

‘The experience I’ve got will hopefully stand us in good stead,’ Clough said. ‘Over 22 years in management I’ve pretty much seen everything football can throw at you.’

It’s why fans of a club fourth-from-bottom of the league can suddenly dare to dream.