Eight Out of Work Managers

Posted by on Mar 13, 2010 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Paul Hart’s instalment at Crystal Palace last week continued the trend for this 2009-10 Championship season to resemble an episode of Swap Shop. We have remarked more than once in recent months how Chairmen have spent a minimum of time over their re-staffing decisions: the first name that springs to mind has become the main axiom. Hence, the newly sacked have been deemed the most suitable to take clubs forward – current experience has been valued above all and we have Darren at Preston, Brian at Burnley, Alan at Hillsborough and now Paul at the Palace.

There is no doubt that the game changes tactically over time and I for one would make a strong argument that these are the most abundant days this league has ever seen. The English club game as a whole still just about enjoys global hegemony of course; and this produces a trickledown effect whereby many of the best home grown players are forced to ply their profession amongst us. So, there is some justification in considering those with up to the minute experience as those best placed in the labour market. But, as my fellow blogger Scarf recently commented, Paul Hart didn’t get the push from Rushden for being good: I do feel that the recruitment net could be cast a lot wider. In view of this, which bosses are waiting in the wings? Here’s a random list of eight:

Gary Megson
There have been strong hints down the years that Megson is an incendiary dressing room presence and not only did Bolton fans never forgive him for fielding an under strength line-up in the biggest game in the club’s history, they didn’t much like him to start with. Simply not being Sam Allardyce should be no reason to hate a guy though: quite the opposite in fact. Megson’s record is chequered — a spell at Nottingham Forest seemed like revenge for his treatment by Brian Clough as a player, but he finished West Bromwich Albion’s 15 years of hurt and he ended up being crowned Lord of the Manor of West Bromwich.

Paul Jewell
Keeping possibly the worst ever top flight side up after taking over from Billy Davies at Derby in 2007-8 was a task akin to swimming the Hellespont and it would be grossly unfair to hold that miserable spell in the East Midlands against him. His Bradford days were truly folkloric and he continued this level of magicianship at Wigan, admittedly with greater finances. The Scouser should be primed for a return.

Jean Tigana
A member of the fabled Quatre Mousquetaires French midfield of the Eighties, Tigana’s record in football management also started very well. He may have been bankrolled by Fayed’s millions but kept his dignity when Fulham took him to court for overspending on players (nobody‘s ever tried that with Arsà¨ne for signing Francis Jeffers). Establishing the west Londoners at the top level was no mean feat and an earlier spell at the onset of Lyon’s spell of greatness should also be taken into account. The Bamako born man left BeÅŸiktaÅŸ in 2007 and is presumably available.

Steve Coppell
The Quiet Man, as controversial hobnobanyone message boarder Sir Dodger Royal calls him, has credentials so outstanding that most Chairmen would move high water or hell to move him in immediately. Newcastle need to win practically all their games to overhaul the points record set by Coppell’s Reading side in 2005-6 and Simon Jordan’s has been a lone voice of dissent whenever opinions are vouched on the 2006-7 Manager of the Year. Coppell has been associated with many a vacant post in the past few months, but is keeping his counsel — I for one would love to see him land a job with a decent Premier League club.

Glenn Hoddle
Any potential recruiters might have to put up with a few weird ideas (and Eileen Drewery), but Hoddle, though presumably far from needing the money, would be a catch for a Championship club. Poor Swindon never recovered when he abandoned them for Chelsea post-promotion and although most of his posts have witnessed his sides turn in fair to middling performances, his tactical nous was much in evidence in his England days. That 3-5-2 suited the mood of the times and that match in Saint Etienne will go down in the annals. Currently running the Glenn Hoddle Academy in sunny Spain, one would imagine he’d still like to prove a few people wrong.

Alan Curbishley
‘Curbs’, as even those who have never met the guy are wont to call him (see also ‘Harry’ Bassett, ‘Fergie’, ‘Pards’ and ‘Luggy’), has been as patient as Job, the biblical character that is, not Joseph-Dà©sirà©. To be overlooked for the England job in favour of Steve McLaren would certainly lead to some licking of wounds, but it’s more likely that Curbishley is waiting for a plumb role to come up. A respectable spell as a player with Birmingham City does little to convince us that this will be outside London and the South East.

Carlton Palmer
“I have had a good career and I don’t need to take the abuse from the crowd” said Palmer on resigning from Mansfield in 2005, a previous stint at Stockport having proved to be scarcely more fruitful. Few recall Palmer turning in an all action display as sweeper when England drew with a much heralded French side in Malmචin Euro 92, although Basile Boli’s head butting of Stuart Pearce is remembered from the same piece. That’s harsh on the former Owls and Baggies colossus, although a return to the managerial ranks is probably as likely as a megalosaurus building a nest on Clapham Common.

Dennis Wise
The Crazy Gang graduate’s presence on the ITV sofa to comment on FA Cup fifth round highlights underlined his fall from grace. Making ‘Wisey’ your Director of football always seemed an astounding decision, akin to Richmal Crompton appointing the hero of the Just William stories as Headmaster. What were they thinking at Newcastle? Even the reflected glory of sharing a name with a character from The Wire has done nothing to rehabilitate the snappy ex-midfielder in the eyes of most. Still, getting Millwall to a Cup Final ain’t a bad thing to put on the ol’ CV.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. gerschenkron
    March 15, 2010

    Good post Rouge, would be interesting to think about what a managerial appointment really means: Redknapp coming in means your club is about to spank money up the wall and may be liquidated in the future; Hart coming in means that there is practically no meny left – expect him to show up at Spurs in less than a decade. Or Liverpool.

  2. Ben
    March 16, 2010

    Much as I'm suspicious of someone with quite so much excess flesh hanging off their face, I feel I should defend 'Appy 'Arry here. You can't really deny that the signings he made at Pompey – Crouch, Defoe, Kranjcar, Johnson, James and others – weren't good buys. They propelled Pompey up the table, to the FA Cup and into Europe.

    Of course it turns out that those players cost sums of money in terms of transfer fees and wages that Pompey simply couldn't afford – but that's not the manager's concern. He was given the green light to make the signings by the board, so of course he was going to make them if he thought they'd improve the squad. It's not his responsibility to ensure the club is on a firm financial footing – that's the responsibility of the board who were evidently reckless in allowing him to strike the deals that he did.

    It's a slightly different matter if the manager is given money to spend and wastes it on absolute dross (in our case, I'm thinking of Messrs Boumsong, Luque and Marcelino) – then he's at least partly responsible for the club's plight. But that wouldn't be a fair assessment of Redknapp's time at Pompey.

    As for Dennis Wise – yes, we still have no idea what Ashley was playing at. And even less why, when it came to the crunch, he refused to swallow his pride and back Keegan over Wise and the off-field structure he'd put in place.

  3. gerschenkron
    March 17, 2010

    Wouldn't question Redknapp's transfers from a football point of view in recent years – he tends to sign experienced players that any right-minded fan could tell you were worth going for.

    Have to disagree that it's “not the manager's concern” if his club pays out more than it can afford. That's an extremely irresponsible way of working – especially in the context of a football club, whose fortunes hold a significant emotional interest for a great number of local people. As far as I'm concerned, any manager needs to take responsibility for agreeing to work for dodgy regimes and Portsmouth was a dodgy regime. Blindly claiming not to have known what was going on behind the scenes doesn't wash with me and the likes of Venables, Redknapp and O'Leary have forever tarnished their reputations as far as this writer is concerned.

    I agree that it does seem even worse when the money is spent badly – but at least Newcastle are out of the worst of that period now (apparently) and have taxpayer funding to look forward to – I wonder whether the sponsorship deal will come under the good or the bad bank when it is split into two?

  4. Jeff
    April 7, 2010 Reply
  5. Eight Out of Work Managers Revisited | The Two Unfortunates
    December 17, 2012

    […] lack of imagination shown by Football League chairmen continues to fuel the managerial carousel. Almost three years ago, we were bemused by Paul Hart’s arrival at Crystal Palace while the likes of Alan Irvine, Brian […]


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