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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Hero Takes A Fall

With Northampton Town parting ways with playing legend Ian Sampson as their manager, Nobes looks at how it worked out for others who made a similar transition at their club.

Club legend Ian Sampson had been in charge at Sixfields for just 16 months

"It's not about Sammo the legend," remarked Northampton chairman David Cardoza when explaining the difficulty of the decision to remove boss Ian Sampson from his position last week.

The Cobblers have experienced a disappointing campaign in League Two. Although expected to challenge for the top seven, new boss Gary Johnson finds his side lying well off the pace in 16th, a full 12 points off the play offs.

Sampson spent a decade serving Town as a player, making the second most appearances in a claret shirt. He then joined the club's coaching staff before replacing Stuart Gray in the top job in September 2010.

He oversaw an encouraging second half of the campaign, eventually steering Northampton to 11th, but has been unable to build on that momentum this term.

Despite a memorable League Cup victory on penalties over Liverpool, it's the bread and butter which has let Town down. Events at Anfield couldn't disguise underachievement at Sixfields.

Not that Sampson is the first, and he won't be the last, to have a go managing the club he represented with distinction as a player. Here's my look at how it turned out for a few others:

Roberto Martinez (Swansea City)

The Spaniard only spent four seasons as a player in South Wales, but became a fans' favourite for his cultured displays in midfield as captain of the Swans.

He helped guide them away from relegation to the Conference in 2003 before playing an important role in their promotion to League One in 2005.

He was controversially released by boss Kenny Jackett at the end of the next season - a move which upset many City fans.

Less than a year later he had returned to the Liberty to replace Jackett as manager and took them to the League One title in his first full season playing a brand of attractive passing football.

Consolidated them in the Championship before leaving for Wigan - arguably laying the foundations for Swansea's current push for the Premier League.

Bryan Gunn (Norwich City)

A Scot by birth, Gunn is an adopted son of Norfolk after spending more than a decade between the sticks as Norwich keeper.

He was twice voted player of the season during his time at Carrow Road, and was part of the side which, in 1993, finish 3rd in the Premier League - the club's highest ever finish.

A member of the Norwich team who upset Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup during the '90s as well as the Canaries' Hall of Fame. There's even a club at the ground named after him.

Initially was a goalkeeping coach at City before stepping up to replace Glenn Roeder as boss in January 2009. However, he was unable to stop Norwich sliding into League One at the end of the season.

He retained his post only to be removed after the first game of the new season, a 7-1 thrashing at home to Colchester.

Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)

Howe joined his local club as a youngster and spent the majority of his playing career with Bournemouth before leaving for Portsmouth in 2002.

However, he suffered an injury-hit time at Fratton Park and eventually re-joined the Cherries, initially on loan, before fans helped raise money to re-sign him permanently.

He progressed to the role of reserve team boss before taking over as caretaker manager from Jimmy Quinn with the club staring relegation to the Conference in the face.

The Football League's youngest boss engineered a great escape, despite an 18-point deduction. Then, last term, not even a transfer embargo could prevent him leading the Cherries to promotion to the third tier.

Before leaving to take over at Championship Burnley in January, Howe had taken Bournemouth into contention for back-to-back promotions.

John Askey (Macclesfield Town)

When Askey first joined the Silkmen, they were plying their trade in to the Northern Premier League. However, he helped them win the title in 1987 and gain promotion to the Conference.

During his time at the Moss Rose as a player, Macc twice won the Conference title and also secured the FA Trophy before finally reaching the Football League in 1997.

Twelve months later, Askey had again played a major role in Sammy McIlroy's side's elevation to League One as they secured successive promotions.

By the time of his final game for the club in 2003 he was assistant to boss David Moss, and stepped up to replace Moss a few months later - overseeing an improvement in results for the struggling Silkmen.

As they began to struggle again though he stepped down to assist the experienced Brian Horton as Macclesfield avoided the drop and then qualified for the play offs in 2005. Now in charge of the Town Youth Team.

Steve Tilson (Southend United)

As a player with Southend in the '90s, Tilson was part of the Shrimpers side who secured back-to-back promotions into the Championship.

After retiring as a player he joined the club's Centre of Excellence before being named caretaker manager of the first team in 2003 after the departure of Steve Wignall.

Tilson helped keep United in League Two and guided them to consecutive Football League Trophy finals, although they ended up on the losing side on both occasions.

However, in his first full season he took Southend to promotion via the play offs and a year later they had repeated his feat as a player - winning back-to-back promotions as League One winners.

He couldn't keep them in the Championship though, and eventually left the club after financial problems condemned them to relegation to League Two last season. Now at Lincoln.

Stuart McCall (Bradford City)

The Yorkshireman began his career at Bradford and during his first spell at the club was part of their third tier title winning side in 1985.

He returned to the Bantams in 1998 and captained them as they secured a place in the top flight of English football for the first time in 77 years.

They stayed there for a couple of years and, after retiring and spending time assisting Neil Warnock at Sheffield United, McCall returned to Valley Parade for a third time in 2007.

On this occasion it was as manager, with the club newly relegated to the basement division. Despite lofty expectations, he failed to guide them to the play offs in his first two seasons.

Persuaded to stay on by supporters, he eventually resigned midway through his third campaign - again with the Bantams struggling to make the top seven. Now managing at Motherwell.

Jim Gannon (Stockport County)

As player with Stockport, Gannon spent a decade helping the Hatters to two Football League Trophy finals as well as a couple of promotions.

Hugely popular with the Edgeley Park faithful, after retirement and a move into management in Ireland, the club turned to him to aid their battle against relegation to the Conference in 2005.

He helped them escape the drop on the final day of the season and then transformed them into a young side playing good football which, two years later, won promotion via the play offs.

However, County's financial turmoil saw him unable to take the club much further, and they only narrowly avoided the drop back to the basement division.

He was made redundant by cost-cutting County at the conclusion of the 2008/9 season. Now at Port Vale, but is constantly linked with a return to the Stockport job.

Mick Harford (Luton Town)

Often voted the best ever player for the Bedfordshire club, Harford spent six years with Luton during the 1980s.

During his time with the Hatters, he helped Ray Harford's men win the 1988 League Cup and preserve their top flight status. He also appeared for the England senior side.

He spent a short spell at Derby before returning to Kenilworth Road again, almost scoring the goals to keep Town amongst the country's elite. However, he left after relegation.

Harford was assistant to Joe Kinnear in 2001, helping Luton win promotion from League Two before leaving a couple of years later. He returned as manager himself in 2008, with the cash-strapped Hatters facing relegation back to the basement division.

Docked 30 points, he was at the helm as Luton crashed into the Conference in 2009, but did secure them the Football League Trophy. He left the club early on last term after a poor start to the campaign.

Ronnie Moore (Rotherham United)

Now in his second spell as manager of the Millers, Moore has a long and successful connection with the South Yorkshire club.

He first went to the club as a player in the '80s. His goalscoring exploits over three years made him a terrace favourite and saw him recently voted United's greatest ever player.

In 1997, he returned to Millmoor as manager and guided the club to successive promotions to the Championship where, despite a comparatively small budget, he kept them for four seasons.

Eventually, with relegation looking likely, he departed in 2005. However, he returned to Rotherham last season to replace Mark Robins.

Moore took the Millers to the play off final where they were beaten by Dagenham. They are once again in contention for promotion from League Two this term.

Brian Tinnion (Bristol City)

Despite being a man of the North East, 450 appearances over 12 years as a player at Ashton Gate means Bristol is the city most associated with Tinnion.

He was part of the Robins side who fluctuated between the second and third tiers during the '90s - winning promotion in 1998 but suffering relegation in 1995 and 1999.

Working with the club's youth system, Tinnion was already being groomed for the top job before becoming a player coach under Danny Wilson as City once again fought for promotion from League One.

He replaced Wilson as manager after successive play off failures, but in his first year at the helm Tinnion was unable to even guide the Robins into the top six.

A poor start to the next season saw him resign from his post following a 7-1 thrashing at Swansea left City in the relegation zone.

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