As we approach the penultimate month of the year, the managerial merry-go-round is in full swing. Sheffield United, Notts County, Gillingham, Carlisle, Middlesbrough and Bury have all parted company with their managers in the past three months, some of the changes more justified than others. As the league tables really begin to take shape, we focus on two managers who could be the next victims of their chairman’s bullet, in English football’s second tier.
Dave Jones – Sheffield Wednesday
The former Cardiff boss has had a troubled start to the 13/14 season, as his Sheffield Wednesday team is the only remaining professional football club without a win to their name this campaign, and have suffered their worst start to a season for a quarter of a century.
Much of this has been down to a lack of support from upstairs; owner Milan Mandaric has publicly stated that he wants to sell the club, thus leaving Jones with a bottom five standard transfer budget, which unsurprisingly has left Jones with a squad deprived of quality.
However, many Owls fans are becoming fed up at the Liverpudlian’s negative style of football, as Wednesday have drawn no fewer than eight games so far this season, the most in the Football League.
As a ‘Wednesdayite’ myself, the most worrying thing for me is that the men from South Yorkshire have only come up against three teams in the top half, and with an extremely tough run of games round the corner, I’m struggling to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Apart from the humbling 4-1 loss at Birmingham, Jones’ men have been quite difficult to beat, and have picked up creditable away points at Leeds, Brighton, Middlesbrough and Bolton. You can glorify that as much as you like, but failure to win at local rivals Barnsley compounded the Owls to the bottom of the Championship. Failure to win combined with no entertainment means that the outlook is rather bleak in the blue side of Sheffield, and time is at a premium for the DJ.
Dougie Freedman – Bolton
Freedman has been in charge of Wanderers for around a year now, as his exploits at Crystal Palace prompted Phil Gartside to lure him away from Selhurst Park to replace outgoing boss Owen Coyle 12 months ago. Since then, he transformed the Lancashire outfit’s fortunes in 12-13, as they went from relegation candidates to missing out on the play offs by the skin of their teeth under his stewardship.
Optimism wasn’t in short supply ahead of the 13-14 season at the Reebok, as Trotters fans were confident that the Palace cult hero could build upon the foundations he laid last season. However, despite owning a squad packed to the rafters with quality Championship players such as Jermaine Beckford, Tim Ream, Jay Spearing and Chris Eagles to name a few, Bolton have only picked up a solitary victory in the league so far.
After disappointing results like the 4-1 defeat at Blackburn, the 3-0 loss at Forest and the 1-1 draw at home to Yeovil, Freedman’s side unbelievably found themselves rock bottom of the Championship. Despite this, there was a feeling that one win would spark an revival similar to last year, so when Wanderers secured their first win of the term away at Birmingham, the supporters were confident of following that up with victories in back to back home fixtures.
Disappointingly, the whites only managed to draw home clashes with Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town. Like Wednesday, Bolton must turn these draws into vital wins to get themselves out of jail.
However, the men from the North West have faced eight teams from the top half so far, and have a seemingly easier run of games ahead of them. I expect Phil Gartside to give Dougie until at least the end of November to show progression before pulling the trigger.
Easy run of games in the Championship? What a load of rubbish.