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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Ever Changing Moods

After Coventry sack boss Chris Coleman - their eighth manager since relegation from the Premier League - Nobes looks at similar trigger-happy clubs over the past decade, and how that approach has fared.

Chris Coleman has been shown the exit at Coventry after a poor end of season run

There's a saying that someone being 'sent to Coventry' is facing a punishment. However, Chris Coleman's punishment for failing to win any of his side's last 11 games was actually being sent from Coventry.

The Sky Blues - relegated from the top flight in 2001 - have rarely looked like returning to the level they resided at for nearly 30 years.

Perhaps that's partly to do with the huge turnover of managers they've had during their time in the Championship.

The worrying thing is, they're by no means the worst culprits. So, here's my rundown of the top ten clubs who are always in the mood for changing bosses.

10. Oldham Athletic

After just over three years in charge, League One Oldham fired club legend Andy Ritchie and replaced him with Mick Wadsworth.

That didn't work out, and Iain Dowie was appointed to the Boundary Park hotseat. He took Latics to the play-offs - where they lost - but left to join Crystal Palace a few months later.

His eventual long-term successor was Brian Talbot. Well, not that long-term, less than a year in fact. So Athletic, struggling against relegation, appointed Ronnie Moore.

He saved them, then took them to the fringes of the top six - but was given the boot. The more popular John Sheridan replaced him, but failed to get Oldham into the play-offs over two and a half years.

He was sacked and back came former boss Joe Royle for the end of last season. It didn't work out, and last summer Dave Penney became the new manager. It's a role he still holds - for now.

Total: 8

Movement: Oldham have gone absolutely nowhere over the past nine seasons. The sackings of Ritchie, Moore, and Sheridan all appeared strange. After underachieving this term, Penney has every right to feel nervous about his long term prospects.

9. Coventry City

After being relegated from the top flight, the Sky Blues stuck by Gordon Strachan. Well, for a few months, anyway. His successor, Roland Nilsson, didn't see out the season and in came Gary McAllister.

McAllister resigned for personal reasons and his assistant Eric Black assumed control. Black was controversially dismissed towards the end of the 2003/4 season.

Next up was Peter Reid, but he left after a poor campaign, and Micky Adams was given the job. Despite showing some promise, he was given the boot and replaced by Iain Dowie.

Twelve months later, he was gone, and in came Chris Coleman to save Coventry from relegation. Lower mid-table finishes in the last two seasons have now done for him though.

Total: 8

Zilch. Coventry haven't even looked like finishing in the play-offs. Indeed, on more than one occasion they've looked more likely to leave the Championship via the trapdoor.

Lots of managers, very little progress. Not a coincidence.

8. Northampton Town

A policy of managerial stability? A load of Cobblers - certainly at Northampton anyway.

Town swapped Kevin Wilson for Kevan Broadhurst in 2001 to help keep them in League One. It worked. Replacing Broadhurst with Terry Fenwick 18 months later didn't.

Northampton were relegated under Martin Wilkinson who was promptly sacked after a poor start in League Two the next term. In came rookie Colin Calderwood who, at the third attempt, took Cobblers to promotion in 2006.

He left for Nottingham Forest, but his replacement John Gorman lasted just a few months before leaving for personal reasons. Stuart Gray was the new man at Sixfields - managing them over four different seasons in total.

However, Town were relegated under his stewardship last May and he was out of a job early this term. Ian Sampson is currently in charge.

Total: 8

Movement: Northampton have lived up to their reputation as a yo-yo club between the lower two divisions. Was their managerial turnover a help or a hindrance? It's hard to say. They haven't really underachieved though.

7. Oxford United

After dropping into League Two in 2001, Oxford appointed Mark Wright to help lead their charge back up the ladder. It didn't work out and a disappointing set of results, coupled with being suspended by the FA for disciplinary reasons, saw him resign.

His replacement, Ian Atkins, helped turn around their fortunes and narrowly missed out on the play-offs in 2003. Then, the following year, he was fired for signing a pre-contract agreement with Bristol Rovers.

Graham Rix spent a disastrous few months at the helm before Argentine Ramon Diaz took over. He left at the end of the season and Brian Talbot was named his successor.

A poor run of form saw him fired less than a year into the post and former boss Jim Smith brought back after a takeover at the Oxen. Smith couldn't prevent Oxford slipping into the Conference though.

When he failed to get them back at the first attempt, he was replaced by assistant Darren Patterson. He failed to get United competing and after 12 months was sacked.

Chris Wilder is now in charge - and has taken them to the Conference play-off final.

Total: 8

Instability and the rapid managerial turnover played a big part in Oxford's relegation to the Conference. The sacking of Atkins in 2004 was a mistake they have never recovered from. Only now has Wilder began to turn things around.

6. Millwall

In 2001, Millwall had just missed out in the Championship play-offs under Mark McGhee, and the Scot remained in charge until being fired early on in the 2003/4 campaign.

Dennis Wise took over - and guided the Lions to the FA Cup final and two top half finishes before quitting. Then, during the summer of 2005, new boss Steve Claridge was sacked before a ball had even been kicked.

It was the start of a miserable season where first Colin Lee and then David Tuttle failed to keep the Londoners in the second tier.

In League One they hoped for an instant return under Nigel Spackman - but soon fired him after a dreadful start. The experienced Willie Donachie took over and impressed - until a poor start in the 2007/8 season saw him sacked.

Kenny Jackett was appointed and took the Lions to last season's play-off final and they're still in with a shout of promotion going into the last game of this season on Saturday.

Total: 8

Three managers in one season - including one just for pre-season. Was it any surprise that 12 months later Millwall found themselves a division lower?

Stability is the best recipe for success, something they're hopefully now learning with Jackett as manager.

5. Darlington

Darlo boss back in 2001 was Gary Bennett, but he found himself unemployed a few months into the campaign and replaced by Tommy Taylor.

A year on, and the boot was on the other foot - Taylor out and Mick Tait in. A year later and, yep, Tait was out, with David Hodgson returning as the Quakers boss.

He almost took them to the play-offs in two successive seasons before replacement Dave Penney managed just that in 2008. Unfortunately Darlington lost out in the semis.

Penney quit to join Oldham last year and the financially-stricken club, after narrowly avoiding going to the wall, appointed Colin Todd as his successor.

He only lasted a few months however, and rookie Steve Staunton took on the challenge of keeping Darlo up in League Two. With relegation looking ominous, he was ousted and Simon Davey appointed to build ahead of Non League football next term.

Total: 8

Movement: Downwards now. Darlo's financial trouble has been the key reason for their struggles. The high managerial turnover may also have had something to do with George Reynolds being chairman at the time.

It was no surprise they achieved most under managers who had time though.

4. Grimsby Town

The veteran manager Lennie Lawrence was at the helm of the Mariners in 2001, but Championship struggles saw him on his way and popular player Paul Groves replace him.

He managed to keep Town in the Championship until relegation in 2003. A poor season in League One saw him sacked and
in came Nicky Law.

Law was unable to save Grimsby from relegation to the basement division though, and was dismissed. Russell Slade was the next man to try his luck and was thwarted only in the 2006 League Two play-off final.

That prompted him to quit for Yeovil, and assistant Graham Rodger embarked on a short and unsuccessful spell in the top job.

Next came Alan Buckley - who Lawrence had originally replaced - and who was returning for a third spell as manager in 2006. With Grimsby fighting against relegation to the Conference in 2008 though, Buckley was sacked and Mike Newell appointed as his successor.

He saved them from the drop, but a poor start this term cost him his job. Former Youth Team coach Neil Woods is now manager of the Lincolnshire outfit.

Total: 8

Movement: This weekend could seal a nine-year fall from the Championship to the Conference for the Mariners. Their constant managerial turnover can't have helped matters. What's the betting Woods will go if they do suffer relegation?

3. Queens Park Rangers

Like you didn't expect them to appear on this list! Rangers have been the most trigger happy club of recent seasons.

It all started out so well too. Ian Holloway was at the helm between 2001 and 2006 - taking the Rs into the Championship. After he was fired though, Gary Waddock lasted just a few months.

John Gregory swiftly followed but lasted just a year before Luigi De Canio spent eight months at Loftus Road.

Next in the hotseat was Iain Dowie for the start of the 2008/9 campaign. A few months later he was replaced by Paulo Sousa. A few more months later, and he was out.

The next permanent QPR boss was Jim Magilton in 2009 who lasted, yes, just a few months. Then came Paul Hart who lasted, no, just a few weeks this time. Now Neil Warnock's calling the shots - hoping to bring some much needed stability.

Total: 9

Movement: Rangers only success, unsurprisingly, came under Ian Holloway's consistent reign. Since then, they've struggled along in the bottom half under a whole host of experienced, inexperienced, foreign, and British managers.

Is it really any surprise they've not done anything post-Holloway?

2. Notts County

Absolutely appalling. Jocky Scott was manager at the time of Coventry's first season in the Championship, but found himself sacked within a few months and replaced with assistant Gary Brazil.

He lasted a similarly short time and was followed by Billy Dearden from local rivals Mansfield. With Notts struggling towards the foot of League One, he was sacked and replaced by Gary Mills.

Mills was unable to turn around their fortunes though, and was fired a few months into County's 2004/5 League Two campaign. Ian Richardson replaced him, but the Magpies decided to bring in Gudjon Thordarson for the start of the new season.

A disappointing term saw him axed and Steve Thompson drafted in for an 18-month spell. Next in the hot seat was Ian McParland who lasted, by comparison, an impressive two years until being sacked earlier this season.

His successor, Hans Backe, was only at Meadow Lane for a couple of months before County hired Steve Cotterill to seal their return to League One as basement division winners.

Total: 10

Movement: A succession of managers - coupled with financial troubles - contributed to Notts being demoted to the bottom division.

Manager after manager couldn't prevent dire lower mid-table finishes and flirtations with the Conference.

It's only taken hundreds of thousands of pounds they didn't have and a Championship-quality manager to get them promoted back up again - finally.

1. Southampton

Saints began the 2001/2 season as a Premier League club under Stuart Gray. A poor start cost him his job and in came Gordon Strachan.

He turned them into a top half side - and took them to an FA Cup final - before resigning and passing the baton onto Paul Sturrock.

He was dismissed just a few months into the job, and replaced by Steve Wigley - who lasted even less time. Harry Redknapp was next up - but was unable to prevent relegation to the Championship in 2005.

Redknapp upped sticks after less than a year, and George Burley was appointed at St Mary's. Burley took them to the 2007 play-offs, but eventually left for the Scotland job - Nigel Pearson stepped in to save the club from relegation.

He wasn't kept on, and in came Dutchman Jan Poortvliet - who didn't see out the season and was succeeded by assistant Mark Wotte. Saints financial trouble saw them relegated to League One though.

Last summer, Alan Pardew was appointed as Southampton's new manager - and he's survived the season.

Total: 10

Movement: Ten managers, nine seasons, and demotion from the Premier League to the third tier. Some managers have left for other jobs, the majority have been sacked after a short time in charge.

Southampton are a model of how not to run a club financially, and how not to approach appointing managers. Disastrous.
Coventry beware.

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