Monday, 10 November 2014

3 Championship clubs that could profit for managerial changes

Football management has become an unforgiving occupation in recent years, with the days of clubs staying loyal to one man replaced by irrational decision-making in which a few bad results could see a manager come under pressure, or even sacked. The sport has transformed into a results-based business as chairman and owners now expect instant results on the pitch, with managers often becoming the scapegoat for poor performances when players are equally to blame for not playing to the best of their ability. While the Premier League has become more settled in terms of managerial changes, there have been no less than 12 in the Championship in the opening three months of the 2014/2015 season. Pulling the trigger so early may provide new managers with the opportunity to transform the club’s fortunes, with three Championship teams poised to benefit from making a split second judgement that goes against the grain of traditional management loyalty.


Dougie Freedman was hailed as being the main figure behind Bolton’s recovery last season as they enjoy a superb late run of form to take themselves away from a relegation dogfight into mid-table safety. Unfortunately, old habits came back to haunt them as Bolton struggled to find any form or consistency and slid straight to the bottom of the Championship. The 4-0 defeat at Fulham proved to be the final straw for Phil Gartside who relieved Freedman of his duties, but his replacement could turn out to be the best piece of business Bolton conduct this season. Neil Lennon, who decided to leave Celtic in search of a new challenge, became the new man in charge at the Macron Stadium, and Bolton have never looked back. 4 victories and 2 defeats in his first 6 games demonstrates the immediate impact Lennon has made, with his recent appointment at the Trotters instilling passion and determination to win providing a new lease of life amongst his players.


For all the calm and calculated chairmen who remain loyal to their manager and back them to the hilt, there is always one exception to the rule. Massimo Cellino’s arrival at Leeds has created absolute pandemonium, with the controversial Italian arriving in England with a reputation for hiring and firing managers at the drop of a hat during his time in control of Cagliari. A small section of Leeds fans are behind Cellino and believe that he is only acting in the best interests of the club, but to change managers three times in a short period of time indicates otherwise. David Hockaday was ruthlessly removed from his position despite never managing higher than the fifth tier of English football before, and Darko Milanovic only lasted 6 weeks before Cellino wielded the axe. The appointment of Neil Redfearn may finally bring much-needed stability at the club, with the former academy coach forming a wonderful reputation at Leeds for his work in bringing through talented players such as Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt. There would be little surprise in the football world if Cellino got rid of Redfearn if he does not improve Leeds’ fortunes on the pitch, but the club are in safe hands under a manager who knows what it means to represent Leeds.


The Midlands club look a million miles away from the team that once graced the Premier League and won the Capital One Cup in 2011, with Birmingham once again struggling at the bottom of the Championship. Only a final day draw at Bolton saved Lee Clark’s side from an acrimonious drop into League 1 in May, but their prospects looked equally bleak this season. The 1-0 home defeat against a struggling Bolton side signalled the end of Clark’s turbulent tenure at Birmingham, although he made an immediate return to management at Blackpool following Jose Riga’s departure. Birmingham took the correct approach in taking their time to assess their options and appoint a manager they felt would take the club forward and avoid previous mistakes, with former midfielder Gary Rowett chosen as the man to transform their fortunes. The 40-year-old has shown considerable promise during his two-year tenure at Burton Albion who came so close to reaching League 1, but Rowett has made the step up to the Championship at the right time. His arrival has already reaped dividends, with Birmingham looking far more resolute in defence and are unbeaten in Rowett’s first three games in charge.

By a writer.