In the space of a week, six managers lost their jobs in the Football League. With the hectic Christmas schedule on the horizon and the January transfer window just after, teams have jumped at the chance of changing things up top at what many see as the best opportunity to change things. Here we look at the six teams, why they chose to give up on their managers and what could lie ahead.
Out: Owen Coyle In: N/A
This was the biggest surprise of the recent cull of managers, with Owen Coyle leaving Wigan by mutual consent after less than six months. In honesty, Coyle has been fighting from the start by not only playing with a weaker Wigan side in a competitive Championship but also having to play regularly in midweek in the Europa League.
To expect the club to be fighting
nearer the top isn’t unrealistic but it is an unfair assumption to be there whilst also having to play in Europe. It seems more like the decision to sign him in the first place was rushed out of desperation, with him being an ex-Bolton manager, and that made it easier to let him go.
As for the future, the side have a good squad that could challenge for a play-off spot but still remain in Europe for at least another game. Early front-runners are Mike Phelan and Ian Holloway, who could steer them in the right direction, as long as the distraction of European Football doesn’t rear its ugly head again.
Out: Dave Jones In: N/A
One win and eight draws in 16 games is a recipe for disaster and it saw Dave Jones lose his job. It was coming, taking 13 games to get your first win is a pretty poor showing from a club that only just managed to survive last season.
The situation behind the scenes wouldn’t have helped, the future of the club is still unknown with Milan Mandaric looking to step down and no suitors coming out of the woodwork. That restricted Jones’ budget but he was allowed to bring in a string of loan signings that haven’t helped steady the ship and turns some draws into wins.
Fans seem divided with who they want to come in and who they don’t want, so it could take some time before anyone is appointed. Marmite managers Steve Evans and Neil Warnock have been linked with the job, so Wednesday fans may have to deal with a man not everyone wants to see lead the club.
Out: David Flitcroft In: N/A
Sitting at the bottom of the table, Barnsley decided they needed to take some action by firing David Flitcroft after just under a year in charge. It’s not so much of a surprise they did it, it’s more that the club were incredibly lucky to stay up last season under Flitcroft and will be even more lucky to stay in the Championship this year.
They hired Flitcroft to give them that guile to stay up last season but his powers began to fade this year with the club on such a small budget to compete at this level. Two wins all season is not good enough but at the same time everyone expected the club to struggle again this year.
Michael Appleton and Danny Wilson are the current favourites, but Micky Mellon might be given the nod with the club under tight financial constraints. If anything, it looks more like a job in preparation for next season in League One rather than keeping them in the Championship.
Out: Richie Barker In: John Gregory
Despite starting the season in good fashion, Crawley have won just once in the last 11 games in all competitions and that brought forward the end to Richie Barker’s reign at the club
The club are in 15th, just five points away from the relegation zone but nine points off a play-off place which was seen as unacceptable by the board. The club has a pretty good squad with ambitions of heading towards the play-offs, which could be achieved with the right man in place.
So in comes John Gregory, the former Aston Villa manager who has plenty of experience in the English game. Recently, he’s been managing in Israel and Kazakstan, not exactly hotbeds for football but a more cultured manager than Crawley fans might have expected. He could just be the man to lead them back up the table.
Out: Sean O’Driscoll In: Steve Cotterill
Sean O’Driscoll was promising to bring the club to a new level after they just went down last season but Bristol City really struggled to adjust to life in League One, leading to the manager being relieved of his duties.
He seemed to have bought well in the summer, with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas looking like an excellent signing, but his team have just struggled to win games and are living dangerously in 23rd position. In the end, it was probably the right decision to let O’Driscoll go and it could be his last managerial job for a long time.
In comes another former Nottingham Forest manager in Steve Cotterill, who has experience of almost every level of English football. He’s the kind of manager that can galvanise an under-performing squad, so he could pull them out the mire but he’s also known for not being able to take teams to the next level, so it could be more of a steadying-of-the-ship appointment.
Out: Guy Whittingham In: N/A
Many felt that Portsmouth, now they seem clear of financial troubles, would be promoted from League Two with ease but that hasn’t been the case and Guy Whittingham has lost his job because of it.
With just five wins in 18 games, the south coast side are in 17th position and far away from their ambition of promotion this season. They also have a competitive squad for this level and should really have picked up more points than they have so far.
Oxford United manager Chris Wilder has been given permission to talk to the club and that could be the right kind of appointment for the club. It would take away something from a team who is currently competing for promotion and give Pompey that League Two know-how they desperately need.