There have been 57 league games since Nathan Jones oversaw Luton Town’s 0-0 draw with promotion rivals Barnsley that left the club he had inherited in the bottom half of League Two sitting second in League One.
A lot has happened.
Jones walked out, leaping a division to join mid-table Stoke City, charged with getting them back into the Premier League as quickly but safely as possible. But instead of providing a spur to go forward, they slipped backwards and were bottom of the table by the time Jones was sacked, 14 games into 2019/20.
And he had burned bridges at Luton, who went on to seal promotion in the meantime but then struggle with Stoke at the wrong end of the Championship.
There’s a quick and easy way to stay on top of all the Stoke City news with our daily newsletter.
Delivered straight into your email inbox each day, the bulletins will feature the latest Potters news, views, gossip and opinion.
All you have to do is click here and punch your email. And what’s more, it’s absolutely free!
Then came a pandemic. Jones’s Luton successor Graeme Jones left to help save money and the board have turned to their old boss in hope of some late magic.
Stoke fans have on the whole wished him well, remembering a passionate manager who obviously cared, even if the results were terrible.
In Bedfordshire the reaction has been… mixed – and there have been plenty giving their opinion to the club via social media.
Perry Glover: (Chief executive Gary) Sweet was in apologetic mood. Jones, skin as thick as a rhino. His comment regarding ‘other offers’ wasn’t great. He only mentioned god once.
Alex Rowley: Still not happy with it, only getting behind the players.
David Brown: If he keeps us up, brilliant.
Ted Walmsley: Decision made and if we are to have a Championship club then go with it. Mick Harford is a legend and a steady influence on the shoulder of a very forthright manager. Give him a chance.
He’s a professional guy in a cutthroat business. He made a mistake with Stoke and I genuinely believe he wants to make it right.
See the big picture….he did what a lot would have done. And many here would be just as quick to see him fail.
Nathan Westley: We’ve all made regretful decisions, hindsight’s a wonderful thing. Yes we were all angry at the way he left but he’s admitted he had a week of madness and made a mistake and now he’s back to put it right.
So if Mick’s approved it then that’s good enough for me. Feel sorry for Graeme Jones and the way he left but had the season been cancelled and the points per game been invoked then we would be down anyway, and he would’ve been gone.
So let’s get the behind Nathan and the lads and see if they’ve got enough left in the tank to stay in the Championship.
Joylon Boyce: How many of us wouldn’t leave our job if we were offered two or three times the salary elsewhere? Yes, the award thing was extremely poor form.
The board and Mick Harford – people who unquestionably have the clubs best interest at heart and love the club like we do – think it’s a good idea. That should be good enough for us all.
Elaine Holland: Never ever thought I’d see Mr Jones return. Have to say it but maybe just as well that the last games are behind closed doors because if by some miracle he saves us from relegation then that’ll help to swallow the bad taste he left with how he left and wearing the Stoke shirt to accept manager of the month award.
Having said all that if he’s got the guts to comeback and the board and team are okay – then let’s look to the future.
Michael Dowling: I’m a bit miffed by it all. But I suppose the board believe his apologies and grumbling. Gotta get the results on the pitch that’s all that matters. He gets the results on the pitch the fans will gradually accept his apologies
Andy Fensome: As Jimmy Greaves said, ‘Football’s a funny old game.’ There’s not many clubs who would give someone a second chance these days so hats off to Luton for giving him a go.
Martin Bell: I’m not buying it! The way he left will leave a very sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths, once a snake always a snake. You watch the next bigger club that comes after him and he will be off quicker than last time!
Robert Clements: If you are without blame, then throw the first stone. Nathan made a mistake, have you never made one?
Time to forgive and forget and instead, rejoice in having a manager who will do his damnedest to lead us back into a position that is stronger and more positive than the one we have had for months.