MAGPIE MESSI FLIES THE NEST
Judge looks for sixth boss in three years
NOTTS County midfielder Alan Judge is looking for a new club, but after working with five managers in three years at Meadow Lane, he is confident he has learned enough to pick the right boss next.
Fans’ favourite Judge will leave on a Bosman free this summer and claims he has plenty of offers from the Championship and League One to sift through when he returns from holiday in Portugal.
The 24-year-old is confident that he belongs in the Championship, and having sampled plenty of different managerial styles in his time with the Magpies he knows what he is looking for.
Signed initially on loan from Blackburn by Craig Short in August 2010, Judge subsequently played under Paul Ince, Martin Allen, Keith Curle and latterly Chris Kiwomya as Notts County battled in vain for promotion from League One.
Wherever Judge ends up this summer he says he will not be returning to work under a former manager – ruling out a move to Blackpool, where Paul Ince is in charge – but the ex-Ireland U21 international believes he is good enough to play in the second tier.
“I’ve had a few offers from the Championship and a few from League One so I need to sit down and decide what I want to do,” he said.
“The most important thing for me is going to a manager who is going to trust me and let me play to my strengths.
“I had a fair few managers at Notts County but they all helped me to improve. It started with Craig Short. He knew my game and he brought me in and used me in a role that was best for me. Then Paul Ince signed me.
“Then I had Martin Allen and he’s a great man-manager and he tries everything he can to help his players and each manager that has followed I took little bits from.
“It actually helped me in a way having all those managers and fortunately I got on well with all of them. That’s important for me.
“I know I can probably be a bit infuriating at times but it is my job to try things and they won’t always come off so it is important I go to a club that will play the way that suits my game.”
Judge arrived at Meadow Lane from Blackburn Rovers as an unknown back in August 2010, but the Magpies fans soon took to him and gave him the nickname the “Irish Messi”.
In five years at Blackburn he had failed to break into the first team and made just two appearances, with two spells on-loan at Plymouth giving his only Football League experience before Notts County took a chance on him.
And now he is leaving after a draw at home to Coventry on the final day, Judge says he he has plenty to thank the club for.
“It was really emotional knowing I had played my last game as the fans have been great to me and they’ve really taken to me,” he added.
“When I signed from Blackburn I was a bit raw but over the last two or three years my game has really come together.
“They will be the most important years of my career. It was a great place to progress as a player and it has made a big difference for me. I grew up at the club as a professional and established myself as a player.
“There are a lot of great memories but probably my favourite game was Portsmouth at home last September (Judge scored in a 3-0 win). That was one of my most complete performances.
“It’s just a shame we didn’t get promoted but hopefully they won’t have to wait too long.”
FANS’ FAVOURITE: Alan Judge was known as the Irish Messi at Meadow Lane, after the worldbeating original (inset)