Clubs hit panic button as eight Football League managers depart in February

Posted by - March 1, 2013 - Ranting and Raving

February may be the shortest month of the year but there was still more enough time for the Sack Race merry-go-round to gather pace. As the business end of the season draws closer, plenty of chairmen and owners were clearly getting twitchy during February, with a number of managers finding themselves out of work entering March.

Interestingly enough though, there were no managerial movements in the Premier League during February, with the big clubs now seemingly happy with their lot this season.

Perhaps the biggest managerial shake-up of the past month came at the City Ground when Alex McLeish left Nottingham Forest after just 39 days at the helm. Forest had already given Sean O’Driscoll the elbow in December and, following the departure of McLeish, they were left looking for yet another gaffer.

In the end, it was Billy Davies who returned to the club for a second spell as manager at Forest, but he will be only too aware that promotion is the minimum requirement as far as the owners are concerned.

Elsewhere, we saw a particularly big-name boss leave their job in League One, with Paulo Di Canio resigning as Swindon manager. The Italian had worked wonders at the County Ground since taking over two years ago but he decided to quit after the board sold star player, Matt Ritchie, to fellow League One promotion chasers Bournemouth behind Di Canio’s back. That appeared to be the last straw for Di Canio who clearly felt undermined in his attempts to lead the club into the Championship.

Swindon have been struggling financially for some time now, which has obviously been hindering Di Canio’s efforts. It will be interesting to see how the Robins fare for the rest of the season.

There is plenty of speculation suggesting that Di Canio could be set for a return to his beloved West Ham in the summer and it will be fascinating to follow the colourful Italian over the coming months. Meanwhile, Swindon have called upon the services of former Aston Villa assistant and caretaker, Kevin McDonald, to lead their promotion push.

It has been a particularly busy month on the League One merry-go-round in February, with Mark Robins leaving Coventry for Huddersfield Town and Graham Westley leaving Preston. It was certainly a blow for the Coventry fans to lose Mark Robins since the Sky Blues were in good form prior to his departure, but the lure of Championship football was clearly too big to ignore for Robins.

One man who has been mentioned as a possible successor to Robins is Keith Curle, who himself has just left Notts County over the past month. The former Man City defender was given the elbow after a poor run of from at Meadow Lane and, if he gets the chance at Coventry, he will be under pressure to rebuild his managerial reputation. Notts County have turned to Chris Kiwomya to try and lead a late play off charge whilst Preston has appointed Simon Grayson to try and guide the club to safety.

Also in League One, Oldham sacked Paul Dickov, who was shown the door at Boundary Park despite guiding the club to an FA Cup upset over Liverpool. A poor run of league form was cited as the reason for the former Man City striker’s departure and the Latics are still looking for a replacement.

Meanwhile, in League Two, John Still left Dagenham and Redbridge to take over at Conference side Luton Town, and Dean Holdsworth was relieved of his duties at Aldershot, taking the total of managerial changes for the month to eight!

One other move in February concerned former England manager Steve McClaren, who left his job as manager of FC Twente. McClaren appears to have paid the price for a poor run of form and, having won the Dutch title with Twente back in 2010, being unable to replicate the success of his first spell at the club.

It remains to be seen now whether McClaren heads back to England to look for a job, or if he will continue his adventure on the continent, which has also seen him ply his trade in the Netherlands and Germany in recent years.