Who will be Preston North End’s new manager?

Preston North End are looking for a new manager after Graham Westley was sacked and are hoping that a new manager can improve results.

The club are currently 17th in League 1 only five points above the relegation zone but more worrying for the board and everyone involved with Preston is the fact they have only won one league game since November. The club were hoping for more stability, but this hasn’t happened and it is now the fourth season in a row that they are searching for a new manager. Westley was given a lot by the board because in the summer he was allowed to bring in a completely new squad so he cannot use the excuse that they weren’t the players that he wanted at the club. I expected a lot more from both Preston and Westley this season and am surprised that they are towards the bottom of the league. Westley was in charge for 62 games but could only manage 16 wins leaving him with a win percentage of 25.81% and after his time at Stevenage he probably thought he could get this team back in the Championship. So who will take the job and guide them to at least safety this season?

The favourite for the job is currently Simon Grayson, who has been very successful in League 1 in the past, guiding Blackpool, Leeds United and Huddersfield Town to promotion from the division. He would be a great appointment and even though Huddersfield were on a bad run, I believe he would have kept them in the Championship this season. Unfortunately though for Grayson it does look like he has to drop down into League 1 to get another job as I can’t see many Championship teams giving him a chance yet.

A surprising manager that is linked with the job and is one of the early favourites is Gareth Ainsworth. He is currently player manager at Wycombe Wanderers and even though he does have a decent record of only losing 10 of his 27 games in charge, surely that is not yet good enough to make the jump to a higher division with a team that wants to get promoted. I do like Ainsworth and would want to see him get a chance but I just don’t think he would be the right appointment at the moment. However, he is a former player and had one of his best seasons as a player at the club, getting 11 goals in 38 league games during the 1993-94 season.

Finally, Owen Coyle has been linked with the job and this would be an interesting one because he failed to get Bolton Wanderers back to the Premier League and will have to rebuild his reputation slightly and Preston could be the perfect club for him. It is just a question of whether a manager with Premier League experience with two clubs wants to drop down to League 1.

Others linked with the job are Steven Pressley, Paul Dickov and Gary Megson

Advertisements

Who will win the League 1 playoffs?

League 1 playoffs could be the most exciting they have been in a number of years as I cannot see an outsider out of Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, MK Dons and Stevenage.

Sheffield United will play away to Stevenage in the first leg while Huddersfield travel to MK Dons. So will the club from Sheffield be able to get their season back on track after losing out to Sheffield rivals Wednesday in the race for the automatic spots. Or will Stevenage continue their good form under Gary Smith? Can Huddersfield go one better than last year and win in the playoff final? Or will MK Dons passing style be good enough to get them into the Championship.

Sheffield United finished in third place an therefore you would think that they would be favourites but with everything that has gone in recent weeks will get their fans worried and they may not be as confident as they should be. With them running out of strikers with James Beattie the latest to get sent off they may struggle to get the goals needed to win the semi final and then the final. But they do have experience in their squad and should be able to deal with the pressure, the fans will also play an important part as Bramall Lane can be a difficult place to go when the fans are fully behind the team. A key player to watch is Lee Williamson who can get goals from the midfield and will cause problems for the Stevenage defence, he has scored 13 goals this season which is a good return for a midfielder and is the top scorer in the squad currently.

Huddersfield Town now with Simon Grayson in charge have been slightly inconsistent since he took over from Lee Clark but he has managed to guide them to the playoffs. He does have history of being in the League 1 playoffs and has won it on one occasion with Blackpool in the 2006-07 season but unfortunately has lost a playoff when in charge of Leeds United.  So the key player for Huddersfield in my opinion will no doubt be Jordan Rhodes who has got 38 goals this season and if they can keep him fit for the playoffs they will score goals but one worry is that there will be too much pressure on him and he may not be able to perform as well as we all know he can.

MK Dons go into the playoffs on the back of a 1-0 home defeat but this shouldn’t make them feel any less confident as they were already comfortably in the playoffs. Karl Robinson deserves a lot of praise for what he has done at the club and has made his team play good football. He likes his side to keep possession and no matter what happens he wants his team to keep the ball on the floor which is very rare in League 1. A key player could be Dean Lewington and although this may strange because he is a left back, he can be very influential and has played 53 games and added four goals this season. He has a good left foot and is a very solid defender for the club.

Stevenage secured their place in the playoffs on the last day of the season with a 3-0 win over Bury. The club may have been criticised by some fans because of their direct tactics but they are only getting criticised because it is working for them and it is very difficult to stop. The recent 2-2 draw away to Sheffield United will give them confidence to go there and take the game to the Blades and they have a very good home record so they have a really good chance. Also beating off the competition to secure their place in the playoffs will give their players a massive lift. Scott Laird will be vital for the team during the playoffs and he is actually the second top scorer for the club with nine goals this season. He has very good delivery and sets up a lot of goals for his teammates.

I think Stevenage will beat Sheffield United over the two legs because they will be very confident and it will be hard for Danny Wilson to pick up his players for the two games and Stevenage will put a lot of pressure on their defence. If United ‘s defence can stay strong they may have a chance but I don’t think they will. In the other semi final, I think MK Dons passing game will be good enough to beat Huddersfield as they are too over reliant on Jordan Rhodes at times and if he struggles they will most likely lose. The final will be a game of two differing styles of football and I think because of that Stevenage will come out on top and achieve their third promotion in three seasons.

Who will be the next Huddersfield Town manager?

Huddersfield Town have sacked their manager Lee Clark somewhat surprisingly as it looks as though Clark was leading the club into the playoffs again this season. Maybe this wasn’t good enough but I believe that the board have made a strange decision because there are bigger teams in the division this time around and they are all above them. Charlton Athletic, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday are all above the Terriers and these clubs all have recent Premier League history and therefore it is not such a bad thing being behind them.

They may have sacked him because even though they went on that fantastic run, Clark was reluctant to attack and win games and just took the draw which isn’t always a bad thing but they have challenged at the top of League 1 now for years and to finally get them promoted they may need somebody else that is willing to take the risk. Or has he been sacked because he wanted to take the Leeds United job?

But anyway, let’s look at the options they have available to them to replace Clark. Neil Warnock’s name is obviously going to be on tip of everyone’s tongue because he is available and has worked in Yorkshire before and has a fantastic record of getting teams promoted. He has managed at the club before and won promotion through the playoffs in the same tier of English football therefore he knows what is necessary and will know what the fans want at this club. However, at the minute he is linked with a lot of jobs and could probably do a good job at any of them. It will be difficult for Huddersfield to attract him to a job in League 1 but if they could, they would have a fantastic manager on their hands and success would surely follow.

Simon Grayson, the recently sacked Leeds manager is another of the bookies favourites to get the job and like Warnock he has gained promotion from this division before with Blackpool and Leeds so knows exactly what is required to get a team out of this division. He would be a very good choice as manager it is just whether he would want the job because I feel he could get a Championship job if he waits around for one but maybe he wants to get straight back in to football management. But there is a lot of potential at Huddersfield and Grayson is usually pretty good in the loan market and that is usually very important in gaining promotion from League 1.

Finally, I would love to see Billy Davies get back into football management because he has now been out the game for a little while and I think he would enjoy the opportunity to build something at Huddersfield and he would definitely have the chance to do that. He did a very good job at Nottingham Forest and his teams are always challenging at the top of the table and he may give the players that extra boost to finally get them promoted after years of trying. Is he an unrealistic target though?

There is a chance for a manager to do something amazing with Huddersfield Town but will the club be able to attract the best managers to League 1. If they can’t they may have to rethink their ambitions because I cannot see another manager from the lower leagues do a job as well as or even equal to the job Lee Clark has done. They have probably pulled the trigger too quickly and should have waited till the end of the season because they are still in with a very realistic chance of gaining promotion.