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…
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