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Friday, March 11, 2011

Three Is A Magic Number?

As Bristol Rovers appoint Stuart Campbell as their third manager of the season, Nobes looks at how other sides who went through as many bosses during a campaign fared.

Dave Penney has been shown the exit by Bristol Rovers after two months

When Dave Penney reflects on his managerial career, it will include a tale of two Rovers. At the first, Doncaster, he established his reputation as a promising young coach.

He led Donny back into the Football League in 2003 before taking them to the League Two title a year later. He then consolidated the Yorkshire side in the third tier.

At Bristol Rovers, however, he hardly had time to get his feet under the desk. The 46-year-old took charge of just 13 matches at the Memorial Stadium as he struggled to turn around the League One outfit's fortunes.

Just two wins and nine defeats - conceding 28 goals along the way - later and the Gas had shown him the door, handing senior player Stuart Campbell the job until the end of the term.

He began his reign with a 1-0 win at Tranmere in midweek, taking the West Country outfit to within a couple of points of safety.

Not that having three different managers during the campaign is an ideal scenario. It paints a picture of instability and panic, pinning blame on one man rather than looking at collective responsibility.

Rovers are banking on their latest switch making the difference though, but what do the history books tell us about sides going through three different bosses in just one season?

Exeter City 2002/3

He now drives a milk tanker around Devon but, at the start of the 2002/3 season, John Cornforth [pictured] was in charge at Exeter.

As boss at St James Park though, he failed to deliver, and was removed from his position at the start of October.

The Grecians, just three points above the drop zone, turned to rookie Neil McNab.

However, the Scot managed just three wins from 20 games and with City rock bottom at the beginning of March he was axed.

Former Preston boss Gary Peters was drafted in for the last 13 games to try and save the Grecians.

Result: Despite collecting 20 points under Peters, City ended up 23rd, just a single point off safety, and were relegated to the Conference.

Northampton Town 2002/3

Cobblers had only narrowly avoided the drop the previous year - when they had turned to Kevan Broadhurst to replace Kevin Wilson.

However, the boot was on the other foot a season later, when Broadhurst was given the push and in came former England international Terry Fenwick

His reign lasted just seven games though - five losses and two draws - dumping Town to a point off the bottom of League One.

Chief Scout Martin Wilkinson then assumed control for the last 13 matches of the season.

Result: Wilkinson hardly fared any better. Cobblers finished bottom of the division, a full 11 points from safety.

Macclesfield Town 2003/4

Macc began the season under the stewardship of David Moss, but after a third of the campaign found themselves only out of the drop zone on goal difference.

In came club legend and assistant boss John Askey into the top job.

However, he struggled to lift the Cheshire side out of relegation danger.

With seven games of the season remaining, and the Silkmen three points adrift of safety, he was moved back down to assist veteran manager Brian Horton

Collecting 13 points from 21, the experienced hand of Horton ensured Macc beat the drop comfortably in the end.

Millwall 2005/6

The Lions had already got through one manager before pre season had even ended.

Steve Claridge was swiftly removed after 36 days over concerns about his managerial style and the club's prospects for the season.

Ex-Wolves boss Colin Lee was drafted in, but Millwall struggled towards the bottom.

When he left just before Christmas the club were bottom of the Championship and five points from safety.

His assistant, and former Lions player, David Tuttle
[pictured] then took over the reins with more than half the season to keep them up.

Result: That worrying pre-season proved correct, with Millwall finishing the season second bottom, and relegated with two games of the season still to play.

Torquay United 2006/7

Only a late great escape had saved the Gulls from relegation to the Conference in the previous campaign.

It had been engineered by Ian Atkins, who led the side into the new season.

However, a bright start soon evaporated and he was given the boot by new owner Chris Roberts with United just outside the bottom two.

Roberts hired former Czech Republic international Lubos Kubik to take over, but his disastrous reign saw the Devonians collect just a single win from 12 matches.

By the time Keith Curle
[pictured] took over in February, Torquay were rock bottom and five shy of safety.

Result: Curle guided the side to two wins from 15 as they crashed to a dismal relegation to the Conference.

Leicester City 2007/8

Milan Mandaric hailed the summer appointment of Martin Allen
[pictured] at the Foxes - then parted company with him after just three games.

Next up was Gary Megson, but it was roles reversed when Megson walked out on the club after just 40 days to join Bolton.

Mandaric then turned to Plymouth's Ian Holloway to bring some much needed stability.

With more than 30 games of the campaign remaining he was charged with guiding the club up the league table.

Result: Only he didn't. The goal-shy Foxes were permanently staving off the drop until, on the final day, slipping into the bottom three and being relegated.

Bournemouth 2008/9

A ten point deduction had resulted in Kevin Bond's men being relegated to League Two in 2008.

They then had the daunting prospect of beginning the season on minus 18 points.

Failure to win in their first four games saw him axed and ex-Cherries striker Jimmy Quinn being brought in to win their fight against the drop.

By the end of 2008, although back in positive numbers, they still sat seven points adrift of third bottom with half of the season remaining.

Popular former player and Quinn's assistant Eddie Howe
[pictured] was thrown into a baptism of fire to keep the Dorset side up.

Result: The rest is history. The 29-year-old rookie garnered 39 points in the second half of the campaign as Bournemouth comfortably stayed up in the end.

Queens Park Rangers 2009/10

The revolving door was in full spin at Loftus Road as Rangers kept up their extraordinary managerial turnover last term.

Jim Magilton
[pictured] began the campaign, with the Rs picking up after a slow start to be in contention for the play offs.

An alleged dressing room bust up saw Magilton leave and Paul Hart in as his replacement.

Hart's reign lasted just four matches though before he resigned.

Caretaker Mick Harford presided over Rangers slumping into the bottom five and were just three points above the drop zone when Neil Warnock was appointed.

Result: The outspoken Yorkshireman quickly turned things around in West London, and QPR ended up in 13th - well clear of any relegation danger.

Peterborough United 2009/10

Posh had just won back-to-back promotions into the Championship under Darren Ferguson's management.

A poor start that saw them bottom after 16 games led to the Scot being fired.

He was followed by Kettering boss Mark Cooper,
[pictured] plucked from the Non Leagues.

His nightmare tenure only produced one win from 12, and he was given the push in January.

Jim Gannon was the next in the hot seat but, despite a relatively productive spell, he turned down the chance to stay on at London Road.

Result: Gannon's final game saw Peterborough condemned to relegation and Gary Johnson took over for the last four matches of the season.

Notts County 2009/10

Big-spending County were everyone's tips for the League Two title last term.

An inconsistent start saw the club's ambitious owners axe Ian McParland with the club only in the play offs.

They brought in Swede Hans Backe,
[pictured] a close friend of Director of Football Sven-Goran Eriksson.

However, after a similarly erratic tenure, he was gone by the time the club's ownership fell through and a new regime turned to Steve Cotterill.

Result: Cotterill picked up the pieces, got the best squad in the division to play to their maximum, and an incredible late run took them to the predicted title.

Sheffield United 2010/11

Like Rovers, United are onto their third manager of the campaign.

The early sacking of Kevin Blackwell
[pictured] was then followed by a four-month spell at the helm by Gary Speed.

When he quit for Wales though, they turned to Port Vale boss and proud Sheffielder Micky Adams.

He has struggled to turn around the club's fortunes though, and they currently look likely to be relegated to League One.

The Gas will hope to not suffer a similar fate.

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