The managerial merry-go-round steps up a gear in January
The managerial merry-go-round has gone in to overdrive recently with no fewer than 11 managers across all four English divisions leaving their positions in the past five weeks.
Nine of those were sacked whilst two resigned to fill vacancies elsewhere, making it a total of 13 clubs who have been searching for a new manager since Christmas.
The season of managerial mayhem began on Boxing Day when Nottingham Forest sacked Sean O’Driscoll after just 24 league games in charge, one point off the playoff places and on the back of a 4-2 victory over Leeds United. The East Midlands club’s Kuwaiti owners acted quick to replace the former Bournemouth and Doncaster manager with Alex McLeish, who had been out of work since being potted by Aston Villa at the end of last season. The Scot hasn’t had the best of starts at the City Ground, winning just one from his first six games in charge, leaving many supporters worried.
The Forest faithful are not alone with the concerns for their teams, in fact they are in good company in the Championship with Wolves, Barnsley, Blackburn, Bristol City and Huddersfield all facing uncertainty after their clubs have also called time on mangers in the past few weeks.
Blackburn Rovers owners, the Venky’s, were more hasty than Nottingham Forest when they swung the axe on Henning Berg on the 27th December, calling time on the Norwegian’s tenure after just 10 games at the helm. Despite only winning once in that spell, Berg could have argued he needed more time but the Indian family, who’ve made their millions from processing chickens, weren’t of the same opinion and acted sooner rather than later in the hope that the Lancashire club makes a quick return to the Premier League.
Assigned with the task of winning promotion is Michael Appleton, who left Blackpool to take over the Ewood Park hot seat after just 13 games in charge himself. The Seasiders are still searching for Appleton’s replacement some three weeks after the former Pompey boss left Bloomfield Road.
Relegation threatened Barnsley followed Nottingham Forest and Blackburn’s lead by showing Keith Hill the door after 18 months in charge at Oakwell with the Tykes rooted to the bottom of the division. They have promoted David Flitcroft to the role of permanent manager after he took charge temporality following Hill’s departure and has got off to a great start going unbeaten in January, with two wins and a draw in the league and progressing to the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Alert to the fact of Keith Hill’s availability, his former club, Rochdale, wasted no time in ceasing the opportunity to by sacking John Coleman after just 12 months, paving the way for Hill to make an immediate return to Spotland.
Other Championship managerial casualties included Stale Solbakken, who was relieved of his duties early on in the New Year at Wolverhampton Wanderers, another manager who hadn’t been in charge; 27 league games to be precise and it was an FA Cup defeat to non league Luton Town that proved to be the final straw for the Norwegian. Dean Saunders was the man Wolves replaced Solbakken with, which meant Doncaster Rovers found themselves unexpectedly without a manager and former Wrexham, Swansea and Wales boss, Brian Flynn, was the man they appointed to pick up where Saunders left off to guide them back the Championship at the first time of asking and are currently on track level on points at the top of the table.
On January 13th, Bristol City hit the panic button when they went bottom of the Championship and subsequently parted company with Derek McInnes, who many would justifiably argue deserved to lose his job at Ashton Gate after losing 15 of his final 21 games in charge. Sean O’Driscoll was quickly appointed as the new Robins boss and judging by back-to-back wins for the first time since August, Nottingham Forest’s loss could turn out be City’s gain as they look to climb out of the bottom three.
Simon Grayson became the fourth manager in as many weeks to leave a Championship club when he was dismissed by Huddersfield after less than 12 months in charge and having guided the team to promotion last season. However, despite a promising start to the campaign, a sequence of one win from 14 was deemed unsatisfactory and was subsequently shown the door. The Terriers are still searching for Grayson’s replacement but with an eight point cushion over the drop zone, whoever comes in must surely be given the brief to start planning for next season.
The tally for Championship managers who have departed during the 2012/2013 season is now up to 11 with just 13 remaining from the 24 who started the season back in August. Those thought to be under increasing pressure include Darren Ferguson at Peterborough and Lee Clark at Birmingham City.
The most surprising decision of the past month came in the Premier League when Southampton parted company with Nigel Adkins after he had guided the south coast club to back-to-back promotions from League One to the Top Flight and had Saints in the battle to avoid relegation to the point that they were 15th when he left. The unknown Mauricio Pochettino was appointed on the same day that Adkins left and only time will tell if the club’s owners have made the right decision.
The other English managerial casually in January came at Plymouth Argyle who parted ways with Carl Fletcher, replacing him with John Sheridan and north of the border, Dundee United and Peter Houston parted company after almost three years together.