As the current manager fights to prove his critics wrong, Notts County’s reunion with a former boss tonight has triggered fond memories for defender Alan Sheehan.
Ricardo Moniz has yet to win over Magpies fans after presiding over a season that has failed to live up to expectations and has been tarnished by FA Cup embarrassment at Salford City.
Now they are desperate for three points against Barnet, who sit one place below them in the Sky Bet League Two table after landing the National League (Conference) title last season under ex-Notts chief Martin Allen.
Allen’s reign at Meadow Lane in 2011/12 lasted no more than ten months, but Sheehan looks back with affection at the controversial methods of the man they call ‘Mad Dog’.
“He was unpredictable, but I really enjoyed playing for him,” said the 29-year-old left-back, now in his second spell with Notts.
“He had crazy methods, but they were a good way of weeding out who was with him and who wasn’t. We went to an Army camp once and we also had to go swimming in a river. I didn’t enjoy getting in the water, but when I saw all my teammates around me, I knew they would have my back! I think that’s what he wanted -- to know that everybody was in it together.”
Although Allen saved Notts from relegation from League One in the 2010/11 season, he was sacked the following February after an overall record of 16 wins and 17 defeats in his 43 matches in charge.
However, Sheehan recalled: “There was a brilliant team spirit. We had a team of men, such as Lee Hughes and Neal Bishop. You knew where you stood. They were good times.
“We had a few laughs too. I remember one of our games was against Forest in a league cup tie. He’d been watching war movies, which gave him ideas.
“Basically, he wanted the team on the frontline, while he led them with a flag in his hand. He wanted us and 6.500 fans walking over the Trent to go into battle with Forest. I think the police got wind of it and knocked it on the head!”
Sheehan also remembered Allen using a Coca Cola bottle as a ball during pre-match training -- and urging his players to head it!
But more serious matters are at hand tonight because Notts need to put one over Allen’s Barnet team to bounce back from the disappointment of Saturday’s home defeat against Northampton Town.
“We have to concentrate better and start winning games consistently,” Sheehan admitted. “We’ve had good spells in a lot of games, but we need to do it over 90 minutes.
“At 1-1 against Northampton, there looked to be only one winner. It’s at times like that we need to put teams to the sword. We didn’t do that and ended up losing. We need to be ruthless.”
Sheehan feels there is still time for Notts to mount a promotion challenge. “Before the FA Cup game, we started to build momentum,” he said. “But all of a sudden, it’s two losses on the trot. We’ve got the chance to put that right tonight.”