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Monday, November 02, 2009

Seagulls send Slade Far Far Away

Leaving a club in a better position than you found it is the aim for all football managers.

The fact Russell Slade, sacked as Brighton boss yesterday, has done just that despite the club being 20th in League One sums up his eight month tenure in charge at the Withdean.

The former school teacher took over the reins in March with the Seagulls struggling in the relegation zone.

A side who had been expected to challenge for promotion were fighting for their lives to avoid a return to the basement division.

Slade struggled to turn the tide for the South coast club who, at one stage, were eight points adrift from safety with just nine games remaining. However, a run of four wins and a draw in their last five games secured survival on the final day of the season.

It was a dramatic escape for the Sussex club who had appeared doomed as fans were cracking open their Easter eggs. Slade was rewarded with an 18-month extension to his contract.

With the club finally constructing their new stadium at Falmer, the brief was to take Albion back to Championship level - where they would have a greater chance of filling their new home. Quite simply, a repeat of last season's struggle has just not been good enough.

This weekend's 3-3 draw with Hartlepool, a game Brighton had led in, was typical of the side's struggles on home soil. It also left them only outside the relegation zone on goal difference a third of the way through the season.

Any loyalty towards the man who saved them from relegation last season had to have a breaking point, and Brighton reached theirs.

For the former Sheffield United boss, his departure brings an end to a period of his career which had been in permanent ascent. After dropping down to Non League with Scarborough and leading the club to the third round of the FA Cup, he moved down the East coast to Grimsby.

Slade saved Brighton from relegation last season, but they are struggling again

There, he took the Mariners to the League Two play-off final, where they were ultimately unsuccessful against Cheltenham, before League One Yeovil came calling. His first season in charge at Huish Park was a surprise success.

The Glovers, tipped for relegation by many, confounded the critics to make the play-off final. On the way they dumped out Slade's home town club, Nottingham Forest, with a remarkable 5-2 win at the City Ground.

Defeat to Blackpool at Wembley was the Somerset club's first appearance at the national stadium - Slade's stock had never been higher, and he was later linked with a move to Millwall.

The 49-year-old, with his family settled with life in the Westcountry,
wished to remain at Yeovil though. However, a little over a year later, and his relationship with the Huish Park club's board had deteriorated, culminating in his departure in February despite a comfortable mid-table season.

Now he must start again. His unsuccessful stint with Brighton will have done little to diminish a record that suggests he can achieve results on a modest budget and League Two clubs should certainly be interested.

Critics will point to a style of football that you wouldn't want to watch if you were paid to, however, it's results which chairmen are most interested in. It's the reason why Slade is now on the managerial market, and why he probably won't be for long.


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