Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crossing Enemy Lines

With Sheffield United's appointment as manager of former Sheffield Wednesday boss Danny Wilson, Nobes looks at others who've tried to cross similar divides.

Sheffield United's appointment of Danny Wilson is a controversial choice

A manager whose teams have a reputation for playing good football and with experience of getting sides to challenge at the top end of League One.

It's a fair to suggest that it was the kind of boss Sheffield United, having been relegated from the Championship and then decided to replace Micky Adams as manager, were on the look out for.

Their eventual choice, Danny Wilson, meets the above demands, so does it matter then that formerly in his career he both played for and managed United's bitter Steel city rivals Wednesday?

For many United fans, the answer is undoubtedly yes, with an added criterion for the hunt for a new boss excluding anybody with connections to the Hillsborough club.

They and others will also point to a chequered managerial career for the Northern Irishman, from the highs of Barnsley and Hartlepool to the lows of Milton Keynes and Wednesday.

Add in his mixed fortunes at Swindon and Bristol City and it's hard to know what to think of chairman Kevin McCabe's decision to hand Wilson the task of restoring the Blades to the second tier.

In some ways, having struggled under a lifelong Blades fan in Adams, the appointment of Wilson fits the pattern of clubs choosing a polar opposite to a previously unsuccessful manager.

Even though Adams assumed control with United embroiled in a relegation dogfight though, the need for immediate results is probably even greater for his successor in August.

A poor start and those questioning his passion for, and commitment to, the Bramall Lane club will soon become even more vocal. Wilson's tenure could turn out to be a short lived and very unsuccessful experiment.

He's not the first manager to try his hand at the rivals of a former club though. Here's how some others fared when they crossed enemy lines:

Harry Redknapp - Portsmouth, Southampton

Arguably the biggest Judas act of all time came from Harry Redknapp when both of these Championship sides were still in the Premier League.

Having guided Pompey into the big time in 2003, Redknapp helped stabilise them in the top flight before resigning - unhappy at interference from club owner Milan Mandaric.

He then had the audacity to turn up at bitter Hamsphire rivals Southampton and try and engineer their escape from the drop - maybe even at his former club's expense.

Ultimately he failed to keep them up, but almost a year later returned to Fratton Park to save Portsmouth from joining Saints in the second tier.

That helped convince the doubters who hadn't wanted his return. Leading them to FA Cup glory in 2008 didn't hurt either.

Billy Davies - Derby County, Nottingham Forest

The outspoken Scot took Derby to promotion to the Premier League in 2007 in just his first year at Pride Park.

However, a slow start the next season saw the Rams rooted to the bottom, and he was relieved of his duties.

He returned to the game at County's local rivals Nottingham Forest, following in the illustrious footsteps of Brian Clough, who'd also managed both East Midlands sides.

He saved the City Ground outfit from relegation in 2009 and then took them to the play offs the following season.

They lost out to Blackpool and again were play off losers to Swansea last term before he was replaced by Steve McClaren.

Tony Pulis - Bristol Rovers, Bristol City

Pulis spent the majority of his playing career with Bristol Rovers, with two stints totalling eight years with the Gas.

His appointment as City boss in 1999 was met with hostility by many Robins fans therefore.

Results were patchy, particularly at home where City struggled to win, and fans also become unhappy with the football on display.

The Welshman lasted around six months at Ashton Gate, with fans relieved to see him leaving to take over at Portsmouth.

Peter Jackson - Bradford City, Huddersfield Town

It's hard to know exactly where the loyalties of Jackson lie in West Yorkshire.

Bradford-born, he began his career with the Bantams and captained them to the Third Division title in the '80s.

He also played for Huddersfield during his playing days though, and then took over as manager in 1997 - helping them avoid relegation before stabilising them in the top half of the second tier.

Fans were outraged at his dismissal in 1999 and he was present at the Galpharm Stadium to witness his old club relegated from the Championship in 2001.

He returned as manager with the Terriers in the basement division and took them to promotion back up to League One in 2004 before almost helping them return to the Championship via the play offs in 2006.

He was sacked again a while later and, with a spell at Lincoln in-between, is now back in management at Bradford - whom he guided to League Two safety last term.

Steve Coppell - Crystal Palace, Brighton & Hove Albion

Coppell had four spells at Crystal Palace including, in his first nine years, taking them to the final of the FA Cup in 1990 and guiding them to third in the top flight - Palace's highest ever finish.

The Selhurst Park favourite later spent a year as boss at rivals Brighton & Hove Albion between 2002 and 2003.

He was unable to help them win their fight against relegation from the Championship - including suffering a 5-0 loss at Palace along the way.

The fact Coppell received a warm welcome from Eagles fans though demonstrated how he had managed to retain their affection.

He left Brighton for Reading in 2003, with the Seagulls top of the third tier and making a strong bid to return to the Championship at the first time of asking.

Micky Adams - Leicester City, Coventry City

Adams was at Leicester when the Foxes crashed out of the top flight in 2002, but 12 months later he had overcome the club's financial issues to guide them back up at the first time of asking.

They came close to surviving the drop the next season, but ultimately a succession of late goals helped consign them to an immediate return to the second tier.

A poor start to the next campaign saw him resign from the Foxes - only to turn up a few months later at local rivals Coventry - albeit a side he'd represented as a player.

He kept the Sky Blues in the Championship and an 8th place finish the next season is still their best in a decade at that level. A sticky spell the next season saw him relieved of his duties though.

Kevin Dillon - Reading, Aldershot Town

For fans of the original Aldershot, their rivalry with Reading was a cornerstone of the club's existence.

So when former Kevin Dillon - a former assistant at the Royals during their Premier League era - was appointed as manager of phoenix club Aldershot Town they were less than impressed.

Despite leading them to the play offs in his first year, the Geordie's Berkshire connections - as well as an unhappiness over the playing style - always saw him fail to win around some Shots supporters.

It was no surprise then, when results failed to come last season, that he departed the Recreation Ground.

Gary Johnson - Peterborough United, Northampton Town

Although not one of English football's biggest rivalries, these two are old sparring partners from Non League days - as well as a grudge evolving from the fact Peterborough was formerly based in Northamptonshire.

Despite that though, and the fact that Gary Johnson spent a few months in charge at Posh, his appointment as Northampton manager earlier this year was warmly greeted.

Maybe it was because he spent so little time at London Road, or the fact he came with a reputation for playing good football and having succeeded in the lower divisions with Yeovil and Bristol City.

Either way, Johnson was regarded as a coup for the Cobblers and his time at Peterborough hasn't really counted against him.

No comments:

Post a Comment