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Thursday, January 14, 2010

He fought the Laws and the Laws won

As Doncaster manager Sean O'Driscoll loses out in the race to manage top flight club Burnley, Turls reports on the big impact Donny's quietly spoken boss has had.

When Burnley revealed their 'shortlist' for the man to replace Owen Coyle, the gents at Soccer AM/MW Towers were convinced that this was the big break that Sean O'Driscoll finally deserved.

Having spent a hefty amount of his life at Bournemouth, 23 years, O'Driscoll moved up north to reside in the sunny climes of Doncaster.

After getting the club to function the way he wanted it to, Doncaster now find themselves as a mid-table Championship outfit who play attractive football and are very hard to dislike.

His career has taken time and it hasn't always been exciting for him. He started his playing career at Willenhall and I won't be surprised if it ends with him managing in the top-flight.

So when Burnley came sniffing, we were putting our heads together to come up with a glowing tribute to the man.

However, the job went to Brian Laws, a man who had only recently been sacked by Sheffield Wednesday. Why?

Maybe O'Driscoll isn't high profile enough? He is very mild mannered and rarely delivers shocking quotes that could spark outrage.

He doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve and he isn't a household name but that is just because he is efficient at his job.

Doncaster won't mind that their man has been overlooked by yet another Premiership team. The Vikings faithful are always scared when a team sacks their manager because they have an understandable fear that O'Driscoll will be their target.

Am I upset to see him overlooked again? No. Because it means we get even more time to enjoy his brand of football.

With Brian Laws's appointment as Burnley boss,
Nobes looks at other Football League managers who have been appointed into the Premier League.

Sacked by Sheffield Wednesday - but now Brian Laws is in the Premier League

Brian Laws has always been a trend setter. Long after managers began throwing teacups at players in the dressing room, Laws instead chose a plate of chicken wings to exhibit his displeasure at Ivano Bonetti whilst manager of Grimsby.

However, the former Sheffield Wednesday boss will need to buck the trend if he is to be the first of many young English managers being given a break in the top flight without any prior experience.

The Noughties was a decade when even the smaller top flight clubs looked overseas for their manager, often neglecting the young talent coming through the pyramid.

Indeed, in researching this, unless they were promoted from within only by achieving promotion into the division did young managers get their break in the top flight.

Perhaps Premier League clubs were wary of having their fingers burnt after Leicester's experiment with Peter Taylor [left] at the start of the Millennium failed to pay off.

Taylor, who had enjoyed success with Gillingham and the England U21s was seen as a excellent choice to replace the inspirational Martin O'Neill at the Foxes. Here was a young, bright coach being handed a chance at the top table.

However, a good start soon gave way to a post-Christmas slide and a shocking start the next season saw Taylor given the axe. Leicester finished the season relegated, since only returning to the top flight for one season.

Paul Sturrock was another manager who had impressed in the lower leagues. Having taken Plymouth from the depths of the basement division to the brink of the Championship, he caught the attention of top flight Southampton.

However, a few months later, amid rumours of dressing room unrest at the Scot's tactics and long-ball style, Sturrock was given the boot. Southampton were too - relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season.

And it was the risk of the same thing happening to them that was enough for Blackburn to ditch Paul Ince last season as the Lancashire club appeared to be sliding towards the Championship.

The step-up from League Two for the ex-Macclesfield and Milton Keynes manager proved too much and when the going got tough he appeared to lack the experience to turn things around.

Indeed, Laws joins a group of just two others managers with Football League experience managing in the top flight without ever winning promotion to it.

One of the others, Roberto Martinez, is in his first season at Wigan. The Spaniard left Swansea over the summer and has enjoyed a mixed start as he attempts to preserve the Latics' Premier League status.

The other, and by far the most successful, is Everton's David Moyes. Now in his eighth full season on Merseyside, the Scot [left] has proven himself the exception to the rule in appointing from below the Premier League.

Moyes had no top flight experience when he left Preston, but has consistently helped the Toffees punch above their weight, qualify for Europe, and even make the FA Cup final during his tenure at Goodison Park.

He proves that it can be done and, for the sake of other unfashionable managers like Sean O'Driscoll in the Football League, Laws must do too.

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