Who’s Next as Blues Boss?

First of all may I just place on record my thanks for the job Chris Hughton did, and luck in his new post at Norwich. I’m gutted he’s left, but I don’t think many Bluenoses begrudge him the move; we know that the shambolic way the club has been run has effectively made his decision for him. But let’s move on, we need a new man in, and even with apparent impending doom for our club, there are many out of work managers out there and obviously a limited amount of jobs. I’m not sure we can afford the biggest compensation package or biggest salary, but a club our size should still attract any number of managers. So do we go for…

The Ex-Blue?

Someone who knows Blues, knows what the fans are like, knows the history of the club, is genuinely excited by the thought of being the man to awake this supposedly comatose giant. Someone who potentially will gain more leeway and time from the fans because they are or were a Blue:

Lee Carsley – Has already got involved in the coaching side by managing the youth team at Coventry last season. Was a popular and dependable on-pitch leader at St.Andrews, captain the last time we won promotion. The lack of managerial experience might obviously count against him at the moment, but it’s fair to say that if he could transfer his attributes as a player to the dugout then he might have a chance of being a good manager for the not too distant future.

Noel Blake – Known best as the Blues legend who nutted Steve McMahon at Vile Park. Blake has spent the last four years working as the manager of the England under-19s, working with some of the best youngsters in the country. If we are as financially buggered as all kinds of people are making out, we might need to bring on more than the three promising youngsters making the breakthrough already. He could be the man. However he did have a spell as manager at Exeter about a decade ago, where, by all accounts, he was crap.

Michael ‘Magic’ Johnson – One of my favourite ever players. Magic never ever stopped trying as a player, and always seemed to have a smile on his face. Has coached both the first-team and youth team at Notts County (working with Sven for a little bit), there is also a YouTube video of him singing ‘S*** on the Villa’ before we played at Wembley last year, so he’d get my vote. He would certainly enthuse the fans and make them forget about the palava behind the scenes a bit, if only a bit.

Alan Curbishley – By all accounts (I wasn’t alive back then) a good midfielder for Blues, who wrote in his book how much potential he thought the club had. A very good proven manager, he would be a great choice. However he’s been out of the game a while; after the way he was treated at West Ham I get the impression he wants a manager’s job on his terms and if the circumstances were right, something which, alas, I don’t think he will find here.

Or do we go for…

The experienced ‘been there done that’ guy?

Mick McCarthy – Mention his names to some Bluenoses and they come out in a rash. Yet that can only really be because he managed the Dogheads. He is blunt and he doesn’t sound too eloquent, but he can’t be that much of an idiot; he got Ireland past Holland to qualify for a World Cup, he’s guided Sunderland to a Championship title and did the same with a pretty crap Wolves team, before managing to keep them up for two seasons until their limitations were finally exposed. My real problem with him would be that it may see a return to the pragmatic percentage style of football that Steve Bruce really loved to play but which proved to be limited.

Billy Davies – He did really well turning Preston, Derby and Forest around. They went from being relegation fodder in this league to challenging for promotion from it. Living in Nottingham I saw Davies’ side play a few times; a rather limited but very organised unit. Forest fans were gutted when he left and it’s fair to say the club’s gone on the slide since. There were issues though, one being the fact that he apparently spent less time than most managers actually working because he wouldn’t move down from Scotland, instead choosing to commute. He also hated the fact that he had not as much control over transfers or the budget as he would’ve liked at Forest, and was vocal in saying so. It’s fair to say if the Board need to sell a player at the moment whoever comes in might just have to accept it.

Gary Megson – At first yesterday I said I wouldn’t set foot in the stadium if he was appointed. But when I clinically assess it he is very experienced, and has been for the most part (a big blip at Forest aside) relatively successful. He took the Baggies up to the Premier League with a similar squad to the one that had he had kept up from League One (or whatever it was called) two seasons previously. He kept Bolton up in the Premier League at our expense when that season they looked hopeless, and kept them there despite the fans hounding him constantly for no real reason.He built the squad that took Sheffield Wednesday up last year, even if he was sacked for some unknown reason (a lot of the time no-one really does know when Milan Mandaric is the chairman) before manging to finish the job. OK so he has the looks and personality of a garden gnome, he knows how to be effective at this level of football and when a club has it’s back against the wall.

Or do we go for…

The ‘up and coming’ manager?

Lee Clark – Guided Huddersfield to a forty-three game unbeaten run. Took them desprately close to promotion twice from League One and signed players such as Jordan Rhodes and anthony pilkington who turned out to be two of the shrewdest signings that possibly have ever been made at that level, something we in our current climate could really benefit from. He’s also coached players at a level higher than the third tier with Newcastle and Norwich. However, his surprise sacking by Huddersfield apparently carried undertones of a team flattering to decieve; a mundane style of football mixed with man-management issues on the part of Clark apparently made for a club far unhappier than one riding that high in the league should’ve arguably been. We know from the experience of 2008/09 how unhappy even a promoted team can be with the mundane McLeish football and backfighting that went on, so maybe those undertones have more credence than one might think.

Darren Ferguson – He’s taken Peterborough up twice from League One, and kept them up in the Championship the second time around. Both times he won promotion were with sides who were youthful and played with vibrancy, and were signings that have been picked up from seemingly nowhere; Craig Mackail-Smith from Dagenham, Ryan Bennett from Grimsby and Aaron McLean from Grays, to name just three; again, as mentioned, a propensity that could be vital for us. I’m sure he’d love to take on a club like us, which, with no disrespect to Posh, is much much bigger than where he currently resides. However, compensation would be an issue; how much they’d want fpr him I don’t know, I’m afraid I don’t know the financial parameters Peterborough work with. Another downside is the fact that his one move in management to Preston ended in a total disaster, who’s to say it might not happen again?

Karl Robinson – As far as I know, the youngest manager in the Football League. He’s done pretty well at Milton Keynes Dons since he took over, taking them to two successive play-offs, but did lose them both (Trevor Francis’ protegee!). Compensation would be an obvious issue, as would the fact that in appointing Mick Harford and Ian Wright to his coaching staff he’s made a bit of a coup; would he want to jeapordise that?

Or do we go for…

The ‘left field’ candidate?

One of the Neville brothers – This might sound ridiculous (then again anyone from the left field might) but they’ve both recently taken up coaching roles with England, Gary’s career has ended, Phil’s must be nearing its end. Both were obviously great players, and both obviously pretty good leaders to be captaining United and Everton respectively for years. Fergie, according to folklore, is meant to be something of a Bluenose, and recommended the club to Steve Bruce and McLeish, so who knows if he’d do it again? Phil would be the more likely candidate perhaps, seeing as Gary has is cushy job with Sky, but both would be very interesting.

Paulo Sergio – Guided Hearts to a Scottish Cup win this season just gone, battering arch-rivals Hibs 5-1 in the final after knocking Celtic out in the semi’s. By the sounds of things did well to do so with the background of financial strife (sounds familiar) whilst improving the style of football (again, sounds familiar). Has previously managed Sporting Lisbon so knows what it’s like to manage a club bigger than us, but if do get ourselves sorted we are a greater challenge than a Scottish team. No compensation would be paid because he’s just left at the end of his contract.

Richard Beale – The reserve team manager. He’s been told to hold the fort at Blues apparently. If we really are in the crap it might be best to go with some sort of continuity, especially if we have to start blooding reserves and youngsters. No disrespect to him, but I hope that we don’t have to appoint him, otherwise it’d be more an indication of how desperate things are.

Just please don’t go for…

Steve Bruce/Alex McLeish – They say never go back. In the case of these two it really is true. Bruce’s football wasnt great, and as it wore on it became more and more desperate. He’s had his time, he was fairly successful to an extent, let’s not diminish that anymore than it was towards the end of his time here. As for McLeish (I actually find it hard to call him McLeish), people who don’t know anything about Blues (namely Adrian Durham and Darren Gough on talkSPORT) have been suggesting he could come back. He is not welcome, and never will be. That’s all that needs to be said.

Paul Ince – It’s only SkySports, but they are suggesting that Ince is ‘in the frame’ for the job. Why? Why does he still get linked to so many half decent jobs? He saved Macclesfield from relegation to the Conference and won MK Dons promotion from League Two with a squad that should’ve definitely been promoted anyway. Since then he’s got the chop at Blackburn, MK Dons and Notts County (and trust me, up here, he was a total disaster). His ego seems to be a lot greater than the sum of his parts.

People will read this and say ‘he is awful, he shouldn’t be under consideration’ or ‘why didn’t you put him in?’ At the end of the day I’ve tried to take into consideration the financial implications and who might be willing to come to a club of our stature and circumstance. Ian Holloway and Gus Poyet are names being bandied around but would either leave their respective clubs when they have good teams? And if they wanted to, could we afford them. There are beggars and there are choosers; whilst I don’t think we are beggars yet, we have to be realistic, and get a manager in who will be suited to another backs to the wall season, which already is what next season is starting to look like. Whatever happens, this great club will rise again. KRO!


I’m adding these names plus Hollaway’s name because he has been mentioned in dispatches, as a poll. Kev

Discuss this post, and other items, in the Joys and Sorrows Forum.


30 Comments on Who’s Next as Blues Boss?

  1. IMO it has to be an up and coming manager from the lower divisions who has gained experience at that level and needs to move up a level. The example who springs to mind is Ian Adkins at Southampton. He learnt his trade at Scunthorpe and has now guided Southampton to the Premier League. Someone like that would be ideal.

  2. I am not quite sure why so many people have this obsession with appointing ex-players with minimal managerial experience. Sure, Noel Blake, Johnno, The Horse, etc were great players who we all love, but when has a sentiment appointment ever worked? I’m immediately thinking of Shearer taking Newcastle down, Bryan Gunn at Norwich, Les Reed at Charlton and Terry Connor at the Dogheads.

    What we really need is a steady hand to steer the ship, not a former fans’ favorite to cut his teeth.

  3. Fair point Francis, although they are options and that was the point of the article to give some of the possible options.

  4. There’s an interesting piece by Tatts today in the Post about Jose Domiguez wanting the job.

    A left-field candidate, but maybe not so crazy – I guess Jose would have access to hitherto unknown Portuguese talent on loans or permanents (once the transfer embargo goes away, that is).

  5. I deffo don’t want Mick McCarthy & the reason being he has never had a good word to say about my beloved BCFC always negative so if he was manager then that would make him a hypocrite in my eyes! I couldn’t support him I hate him!!

  6. to many has beens mentioned and imo has to be someone from the lower league with a point to prove i,e lee clark.Whoever it is it will be a gamble and until the inept owners go then ithink we will struggle.

  7. Zola isn’t on the poll! Though not my first choice, he must have a reasonable chance

  8. i doubt if anyone from outside the club will take the job on. it’s a poison chalis. i believe they will do it on the cheap by apointing Steve Caldwell as player manager with Stephen Carr as his assistant

  9. Paulo Di Canio or Gus Poyet would be the men for me if we could tempt either of them away from their current safe jobs. The people mentioned so far leave me a little bit cold. I did like the thought of Lee Clarke at first but his sacking at Huddersfield was an odd one so would be a bit wary. Karl Robinson is a decent shout but I have heard he is a bit of a nerd (only used that cause it rhymed). Zola is a good shout as well from ‘thehawk’

    p.s where in Nottingham are you Nat? I am also a Bluenose in exile in Nottingham (well 50 miles exile lol)

  10. I think we should wait for interested parties to contact us. Give it a couple of weeks and see who fancies it. I don’t think ther’ll be many takers…Might have a bob on us going down next season.

  11. I am with Griff: this is depressing after Hughton got us so close to going back up which, had it happened, would doubtless have lead him to stay, and no one is jumping out at me right now as an obvious and desirable choice. I don’t think this will be sorted quickly, and unless we luck in with someone of Hughton’s class again – but who?? – like 12 months ago we start the new season behind the 8 ball (once again…..). KRO, nevertheless

  12. Not Lee Clark, see article below from which i have taken some snippets.

    arrivals of Ian Bennett, Gary Naysmith, Damien Johnson, Joey Gudjonsson and Alan Lee all examples of the experience Clark felt necessary. On paper these signings looked to be exactly what the club needed. However as the season progressed it was clear that some of Clark`s signings were over the hill and simply happy to collect one final pay-packet. This left Town with a squad of youngsters and has-beens with very few players at the peak of their footballing ability.
    Despite a promising start to the new campaign Town`s football would become increasingly negative as the season went on. The final blow to Clark`s attacking football would come after a 4-1 mauling at promotion rivals Southampton in late December. This result led Clark to implement a 4-5-1 system for the remainder of the season.
    The problem with 4-5-1 was the negativity that accompanied it. Between January 1st and the end of the season, Town won only five games by more than 1 goal and became the divisions draw specialists.
    Indeed, as the season wore on, it appeared that some players were scared of playing for Lee Clark. This was in part due to Clark`s increasingly strange team selections, which prevented players from gaining confidence.
    The Peterborough squad (play-off final) had been assembled on a fraction of the budget that Lee Clark had to spend and highlighted just how much money Lee Clark had squandered on players. Clark`s transfer record was a real mixed bag with the signings of Jordan Rhodes, Anthony Pilkington and Lee Peltier seemingly showing he had an eye for a player. However, Clark would sign enough players to have four separate teams in his time at Huddersfield but never one good enough to secure promotion.

    Sound more like McLies type of management, boring football, negative tatics and playing players who are his favourites and not giving the whole squad a chance to shine which is the opposite we have seen this season.

  13. Why not Alan C, he knows what it takes to build a club and can spot a player. Done wonders at CAFC and maybe would like one more crack to build a proper club. KRO

  14. Good article Nat…it’s all hyperbole at the minute until Peter Pannu returns from HK but I think you’re inclusion of the Neville brothers is very intriguing! I myself would love to see Gary Neville given the chance to cut his managerial teeth at St Andrews, as he talks the most sense of any pundit I have ever heard! If he could transfer that experience & insight to our current squad (or whatever is left of it come August!) then I think he could be a great success! I fear however that he is too astute to allow himself to be sucked into the mess that we are in so I certainly won’t be putting any money on him taking the reigns of our great club!

    In reality, I would like to see either Karl Robinson given a go, if we can afford his compo, or Alan Curbishley if we can coax him back to St Andrews! I fear however that we may well see a scenario whereby we start the season with Richard Beale as “interim 1st team coach”!!

  15. There will be joys and sorrows too. After 60+ years I have seen too much of the latter.

    It is sad that money now drives everything in the upper levels.
    Who would come to St.Andrews? Well Hughton did last year. He did well – but left the job unfinished.

    Blue Noses are made of strong stuff however and should remain optimistic.
    The club are big enough to provide a platform for talent on and off the field.
    Here’s a rumour. Tony (Antoine) Hey.

  16. I’d like to think that the accounts are good enough, we have the transfer embargo lifted by the end of the week, and an excellent, exciting new manager appointed soon after.

    Then we might all be optimistic again!

  17. U lot can have super ginge back who takes strikers off and puts defenders on but we r happy with paul lambert

  18. I would love to see Dominguez back!!! I bet we would fight for the blues as a manager as he did as a player!!!

  19. His name wasn’t included because at the time when I wrote this (last Thursday night) he hadn’t come out and said he wanted the job. To be honest I had absolutely no idea he was a manager or had been coaching, so that’s why I didn’t include him.

  20. Paulo Sergio is the best for this moment. He have the Mourinho’s school. They are friends. Mourinho help him (and us) maybe come some Real Madrid players. Let’s try and see.

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