MARTIN Allen will be desperate to put one over the Owls tomorrow and not just because it is a big game for his Notts County side.
‘Mad Dog,’ as he was known in his playing days, lasted only four games as boss of Leicester when Milan Mandaric was in charge.
Allen was appointed by Mandaric in 2007 and left MK Dons to succeed Rob Kelly, who was later to become Alan Irvine’s assistant at Hillsborough.
But it appeared that the move did not work out and there were claims of a strained relationship before Allen and Mandaric parted company by mutual consent.
Allen went on to manage Cheltenham and Barnet, and he succeed Paul Ince as Notts County boss in April this year.
With a reputation for reviving teams who are struggling, he lifted County out of the bottom four and kept them in League One.
This season has been a mixed bag: the Magpies won 3-0 at Carlisle in their first game, lost on penalties in the Carling Cup at Forest after a 3-3 draw, lost 2-1 at home to Charlton last Saturday, and beat Tranmere 3-2 at home on Tuesday with a performance rated by their manager as the best of his reign.
Allen had already declared that they have nothing to fear in League One, saying: “We have good players and a good team. We have proper men in our squad and some real talent.”
County came back to beat Tranmere after being 1-0 down at half time, and won with a penalty in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
Allen says: “It was the best performance since I’ve been here, especially after Saturday when we were pretty pants.
“The players were absolutely tremendous. We got what we deserved. I said to the players at half-time to forget the scoreline because they were playing like I want them to.
“I want to see it being zipped about and them playing with confidence and we stepped it up again in the second half.”
County’s visit to Hillsborough will not inspire happy memories for the Owls; they lost this fixture 1-0 in March, but did win at Meadow Lane 2-0 last October.
The Wednesday team has changed vastly since that March game: Michael Morrison, Tommy Miller, Gary Teale, Neil Mellor, Tommy Spurr and Isaiah Osbourne have all gone, and Clinton Morrison, Mark Beevers and Reda Johnson have found their places under threat.
There have been big changes too at County, where seven new signings have arrived.
But striker Lee Hughes is a familiar figure and could play as a lone striker tomorrow. County are likely to field four across midfield plus a defensive midfield man, Hamza Bencherif, signed from Macclesfield, in front of the back four.
Like other visiting sides, Allen’s outfit will want to thrive on the big Hillsborough stage and make life as hard as possible for the Owls.
Defender Mike Edwards says: “If we don’t have the ball, everybody has got to get back and defend.
“Hamza’s a big lad so he wins his headers and tackles, which really helps.
“It’s not just us back five. We’re working on being solid as a whole team and attacking-wise, getting goals from us all.
“That is how we have to do it if we want to do well.”
Notts County, the oldest Football League club , are to play a friendly at Juventus on September 8 to mark the openiong of the Italian club’s new stadium.