COLUMN: A poetic, nostalgic, romantic and risky appointment but the Proact may bounce again
Jack Lester was always going to get a chance to become a manager and it's poetic that the Proact is where he's set to begin.
His name is on the club’s list of all-time favourites and his mere presence on the touchline will add to attendances.
Saturday will, result depending, be a glorious return for a man who thrilled the Spireites for six goal-filled years.
And it’s a mark of the man that he looked at Chesterfield, languishing at the bottom of the Football League, with crowds and confidence down, apathy up and thought ‘I can fix it.’
He’s earned rave reviews for his work at Nottingham Forest, working his way up from Under 18s coach to the man in charge of the Under 23s.
If Town set out to appoint a man who would bring the ‘buzz’ back, Lester must have been at the top of the list.
But buzz alone will not retain Town’s Football League status and it certainly won’t guarantee an upwards trajectory in such a tight division.
It might help, though.
Beyond the hype, the nostalgia and the romance lies a brutally tough task.
Lester must pick this squad up from the depths they have so desperately plumbed.
He’s got to take whatever he learned in a 20-year playing career and the lessons of a three-year coaching stint and adapt to life in senior management very quickly.
A well travelled, vastly experienced assistant would certainly not go amiss.
Breathing life into an attack that hasn’t yet clicked, firming up a midfield that has parted like the Red Sea too often and shoring up a defence that has crumbled under pressure on multiple occasions will be no mean feat.
At the same time, he must take stock of the talent in the building, decide who, if anyone, is expendable and plan to replace them in January with better options.
Changing the culture of an outfit that has too long been a ‘losing’ club is a job for broad shoulders.
Men with more experience have tried and failed.
They might not have matched Lester for popularity, however, and that may buy him more time and patience than they enjoyed.
Is this a risk? Absolutely, for both the man – whose legacy could be tarnished – and the club whose place in the Football League club vanish.
We’ll know soon enoughif it is bravery to be rewarded or foolishness to be punished.
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy an electric atmosphere on Saturday when a much loved son comes home.
The Proact might yet bounce again.