Burnley take huge gamble over Laws
Brian Laws was sacked at Sheffield Wednesday on 13 December because his team were in the bottom three of the Championship and playing like a team for whom victory was an extinct concept.
Fast forward to 13 January and, after a festive season relaxing with his family, Laws is back in management as the new boss of Burnley.
What's more, Laws is now the boss of a Premier League club, a level at which he has never managed before. The 48-year-old could be forgiven for thinking that he has hit the jackpot.
In one sense it looks like an appointment that has rewarded failure and even in such an unpredictable and volatile industry it is one that leaves me scratching my head.
Take a look at the clubs in the Championship and there are plenty of managers for whom a stronger case could be constructed - Billy Davies, Nigel Pearson, Paulo Sousa, Gary Johnson, Mark Robins - though how many of them would leave for Burnley remains open to question.
There is no doubt that Burnley had an opportunity to make a statement of intent with the appointment of their new boss.
The Clarets might only be two points above the relegation zone but they are 14th in the table and there are unquestionably other teams in a worse predicament.
More than half of the season has been completed and the Lancashire club must be considered a realistic proposition for survival.
But by appointing Laws, Burnley chairman Barry Kilby and his team have appointed a proven Championship manager to try to secure their Premier League safety.
Is this the behavour of a club going all-out to survive in the top flight?
Laws and Doncaster boss Sean O'Driscoll were the two main contenders that emerged over the previous 48 hours.
O'Driscoll was at one stage thought to be the favourite but it has been reported that a compensation deal could not be agreed with Doncaster, who wanted a rumoured £1m.
If this is true then it hints at a club limited in its scope and ambition; that has failed to grasp the bigger picture of the rich rewards of Premier League survival.
However Kilby is adamant that compensation was not the issue and that Laws was appointed purely because he was the stand-out candidate.
Certainly, unless Burnley have heavily overspent in other areas, they could hardly argue that they do not have the funds to land O'Driscoll given that they have just received compensation from Bolton for previous manager Owen Coyle.
O'Driscoll, a determined if quietly-spoken and unassuming individual, does not have any Premier League experience but I think he would have been a more intriguing successor to Coyle.
At Doncaster and previous side Bournemouth he was noted for his hard work and strong footballing principles - building attractive, attacking teams despite financial limitations.
In this sense he stands comparison with Coyle, who joined Burnley from Scottish side St Johnstone in November 2007 and kickstarted the Clarets fairytale with a bold brand of football that always respected the opposition but refused to comprise its desire to score goals.
Of course, following Coyle is an almost impossible task. The Scot left Turf Moor for Bolton and explained that he did so in part because he felt Burnley lacked the infrastructure and the transfer funds to move to another level.
In other words, he had taken them as far as he thought he could. They might have survived this season but sooner or later the implacable laws of the financial reality that effectively shapes the Premier League would have seen Burnley relegated.
I'm not sure that Burnley's supporters have yet come to terms with his departure and the timing of it, at such a delicate stage of the season, is a body blow.
The high point of Burnley's Premier League adventure may well be the victory over Manchester United at Turf Moor earlier in the season.
Laws will certainly get an early grasp of the size of the task facing him when he takes his side to Old Trafford for the return fixture this weekend.
An FA Cup tie against Liverpool is likely to follow, then a meeting with Coyle's Bolton and a match against Chelsea.
At the end of that series of games the complexion of Burnley's survival prospects may have turned ashen.
I'm sure that Laws, who looked deflated and out of ideas after his last game in charge of Wednesday, will remain chipper and upbeat in his new role.
Laws started his playing career at Turf Moor
He always comes across as a very decent and enthusiastic man, who remains highly regarded in Scunthorpe after a lengthy spell in charge of the Iron that brought two promotions.
He was popular with many Wednesday fans, though others questioned some of his signings, the likes of Darren Purse and Francis Jeffers, while it seems to me that giving the job to Laws lacks the sense of daring and invention that brought Coyle to the club.
His appointment comes at the end of a series of managerial changes, with Alan Irvine sacked at Preston only to be replaced by Darren Ferguson, who started the season in charge of Peterborough.
Irvine now has Laws' old job at Wednesday, while Paul Mariner has been promoted from within at Plymouth after Paul Sturrock was relieved of his duties. Sturrock was quickly linked with a return to Hillsborough before Irvine's appointment.
I didn't see too much suggestion of an immediate return to management for Laws but in taking over at Burnley he has been given an opportunity to show he can manage successfully in the Premier League.
Laws started his playing career as a young professional at Turf Moor and Premier League survival would be a great achievement for him - but he has his work cut out to ensure his dream move does not turn into a nightmare.