Who will be Stevenage’s next manager?

Stevenage are looking for a new manager after Gary Smith was sacked after failing to challenge for promotion this season.

After a run of 14 losses in 18 games the board obviously felt the club were going backwards and did not want to fall any further down the table. The latest defeat a 2-0 loss to Bury must have been tough to take because Bury are struggling and will probably get relegated this season. But, Smith may feel hard done by as they had just beaten Sheffield United 4-0 at home at the weekend, so at least he will be happy with that performance and gave the fans one last thing to cheer while he was in charge. They are currently 15th in the table and personally I do not think that is bad for a team like Stevenage who have only been back in the Football League for a few years and maybe the board’s ambitions are set too high at the moment. They obviously feel that promotion was a realistic target again this season and they need someone in that can get them back up there next season, however it is a tough league and it will not be easy as the teams dropping from the Championship this season will have a lot of quality.

The favourite for the job is Graham Westley and if he did get the job then it would be a third spell in charge for him. He may not be the most likeable manager and the way his team play may not be the most eye catching but he does have a fantastic record at Stevenage and if he can work his magic again then they will always be in with a chance next season. His time at Preston was very poor but sometimes it just doesn’t work for you at a club and that could be the case here.
Graham Westley
Since leaving Luton Town, Paul Buckle has been linked with quite a few jobs and I still find it strange because he was doing ok with them but it still seemed like they were going to fall short and not get promoted so why should he get a job in a higher division? But, he has had some good times as a manager and maybe somewhere like Stevenage would be good for him and he could do a decent job. However, I don’t think this will be likely but I wouldn’t be surprised if he accepted it, if it was on offer.
Paul Buckle
Finally, and possibly even stranger than Buckle, Gary Waddock has been linked with the job and it is a surprise because he has been out of management since leaving Wycombe Wanderers in 2012. It wasn’t a good end for him there either, with the club in 21st place in League 2 they may have suffered another relegation under him. The one positive is that he does have a promotion on his CV and that could certainly work in his favour.
Gary waddock
Others linked with the role are Iain Dowie, Peter Taylor and Paul Dickov.

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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

Who will be Wycombe Wanderers next manager?

After losing three games in a row Wycombe Wanderers and only four points from seven games the club have sacked manager Gary Waddock.

Waddock, had been in charge since 2009 and won promotion to League 1in the 2010-11 season, however they only lasted one season at the higher level and were relegated. They were expected to challenge at least for the playoffs this season even though they lost a few key players and Waddock will be disappointed he wasn’t given more time to turn it round. But, the board have decided that a change is needed and there is still an air of negativity around the ground and will hope that a new man will get them back where they believe they belong.

This job will surely interest quite a few out of work managers and this is the route that the club will most likely take because they will not want to pay compensation to another team for a manager. So, let’s look at the options, the favourite for the job is currently Brian Laws, and this may come as a surprise to some people because he has managed in the Premier League recently with Burnley and it will be quite a big drop to League 2. However, he hasn’t had a managerial job since his sacking at the Championship club in 2010 so he does need to find a way back into English football. Another reason why he may be a good choice is because he has won promotion from this division twice before, both times with Scunthorpe United, so he knows exactly what it takes and which players he will need to achieve promotion again.

Another manager linked with the job is former Sheffield Wednesday manager, Gary Megson. Many people believe he was harshly sacked as their manager as the team were performing pretty well and were comfortably in the playoff places, although in the end it did turn out to be a good decision as the team got promoted, he still deserves a lot of credit as he signed a lot of the players. His style of football is usually criticised too as it is very long ball and feeding off the scraps which could be a good thing in League 2 and may work to the teams advantage, however, if Wycombe don’t have the players then the fans will have to accept a transitional period while they get in the right players to play his tactics.

Finally, Paul Ince could be in the running for the job, and it just shows that Wycombe can attract good managers because all three of these have managed in the Premier League at one point. Ince didn’t have the best of times at Blackburn Rovers but he has proved in the lower leagues he can be a success with both Macclesfield Town and MK Dons. His win record of 43.37% is not bad either and if he can replicate this at Wycombe then he would surely get them challenging for the playoffs at least.

Who will be League 2’s top scorer?

A difficult thing to predict is always who will top scorer be at the end of the season because so much can happen in a season including injuries and loss of form.

Sacking of managers can also be influential because even if someone is in goof dorm they may get dropped simply because the new man doesn’t fancy them or wants to bring in his own players. So, League 2 is obviously 46 games long and this could be a very tough choice as top scorer could be from a team that is challenging for promotion or it could easily be for a team that are struggling and this one player has become their star and is doing everything he can to save them as we saw last season with Izale McLeod at Barnet.

New Fleetwood Town signing Steven Gillespie could be considered the favourite as he does have a very good scoring record over the years but has unfortunately struggled with injuries. But just looking at his record he should be one of the most feared strikers in the division, he scored 25 goals 98 league games for Colchester United in League 1 and a lot of his appearances were from the bench so that makes his record look even worse. It was his 21 goals in 67 games for Cheltenham Town that convinced Colchester to sign him but he was struck down by injuries regularly and couldn’t get a good run of games going.

His main competition could come from Stuart Beavon of Wycombe Wanderers who were relegated to League 2 last season. The only problem with backing him is if he starts the season well then he could be sold if an offer comes in for him because he did score 20 goals last season while the club were playing in a higher division. But, if he does stay he should score goals for fun because he must be confident and will cause a lot of problems.

Billy Kee could be an outsider for the award as the 21 year old plays for Burton Albion who I think could struggle this season but obviously that will not stop this man from scoring as they weren’t exactly great last year and he still managed to score 12 goals in just 20 games. I would expect him to get to double figures but maybe it is a little too early for him to be considered top goal scorer.

Daniel Nardiello signed for Rotherham United this summer and will be hoping that he can score the goals to get them into League 1. Nardiello, who was once capped by Wales, has had an up and down career and never seems to settle at a club for very long will be hoping that manager Steve Evans gets the best out of him. The longest he has stayed at a club is two years but this may be where he shines so he may stay for longer and what better way to start than win the Golden Boot in League 2.

Finally, yet another Fleetwood Town signing David Ball could be an outsider especially if him and Gillespie form a good partnership. Ball, came through the Manchester City academy and will be hoping to show his quality in League 2 this year and he did do quite well for such a young lad at Peterborough United in the last few years where he scored nine goals in 41 games. He is an outsider but definitely in with a chance.

Who will be Crawley Town’s next manager?

Crawley Town are looking for a new manager after recently appointed Sean O’Driscoll decided to leave for Nottingham Forest.

Crawley Town start their league campaign against Scunthorpe United on the 18th August

O’Driscoll was given the job on the 16th May and left on 19th July without managing them in a competitive fixture which must have been frustrating for the board who had put a lot of faith in their new man and now their preseason could be in pieces. The new man that comes in won’t have a lot of time to stamp his authority on the side and maybe he won’t want some of the players that O’Driscoll thought were good enough. There will be a number of candidates that want the job but the newly promoted League 1 club will need to make a good choice to make sure they stay in the division, under O’Driscoll I thought they would challenge for the playoffs but now I am not so sure.

So who will be a good choice? At the minute the clear favourite is current Aldershot Town manager Dean Holdsworth. Holdsworth has been working his way up the leagues and has one very well wherever he has been but he doesn’t have the managerial experience in my opinion to lead Crawley next season because he hasn’t worked higher than League 2 and has only joined the Football League in January 2011. Another thing that will put Crawley off going for him is the fact that he signed a new contract in the summer and they will probably have to pay compensation.

Also in the frame for the job is former Aldershot manager Gary Waddock who unlike Holdsworth has managed in higher divisions, however he hasn’t always been so successful. In June 2006 he was appointed manager of QPR but after a poor start to the season and with the club bottom of the table he was replaced by John Gregory. Waddock, has managed in League 1 for two seasons but unfortunately for him they have both ended in relegation with Wycombe Wanderers. Obviously, this means he has gained a promotion with them and he has been relatively successful over the years with him also gaining promotion to League 2 with Aldershot gaining over 100 points.

Finally, Gareth Southgate is linked with the job and this would be an interesting decision because he had a very good career as a player but as a manager he hasn’t had it easy. His only job so far has been at Middlesbrough where he managed 150 games so he has quite a lot of experience and most of these games were in the Premier League. He won 44 of his games as manager but he, like Waddock also has a relegation on his CV but at a much higher level. It is good timing for Crawley as he has recently left his role in the FA as their Head of Elite Development and you would expect him to want to get back into football as soon as possible. He would be a good choice because he will have a lot of contacts in the game and will be able to bring in some good players either on loan or permanently and the board will surely back him in the transfer market.

Chesterfield are relegated to League 2

Chesterfield finished 22nd in League 1 this season and got relegated and will therefore be playing in League 2 next year but they have still given their fans some joy this season.

Chesterfield only picked up 42 points from their 46 games

The fans at least got to make the trip to Wembley and see their team lift a trophy which is a fantastic experience for all the fans and players even if the season didn’t go quite as well as hoped. During the season they beat Sheffield Wednesday at home 1-0 which must have given the fans a lot of pride as their rivals from Sheffield went on to win automatic promotion and in recent weeks they beat relegation rivals Wycombe Wanderers 4-0.

The question is can they bounce back from this relegation and return to League 1 at the first time of asking? Well if they stick by their manager John Sheridan which seems very likely, they will have a fantastic chance because he has proven he is a good manager and has more ability than League 2 level. The problem could be if a manager in League 1 gets sacked early on, they may want to give Sheridan the job.

So they have the manager but what about the team? In goal they have Tommy Lee who I rate quite highly because he has produced some stunning saves and will be vital to the squad next season if he stays because there is no doubt he will have teams looking at them as he is better than a lot of League 1 goalkeepers. The defence may need improving though because it wasn’t the greatest and conceded 81 goals throughout their league campaign. But Neal Trotman who was signed permanently in January after an initial loan spell should perform better in League 2 and could even become captain next season.

From the midfield they should get goals as Danny Whitaker has very good instincts and knows when to arrive late in the box. In his Chesterfield career he has scored 23 goals for the club including eight this season which is a good record for a midfielder. Alongside him in the midfield they have Mark Allott who does a lot of the work that goes unnoticed and he does a good job in front of the back four.

In the striking department they do have a good mix of youth and experience. They have Jordan Bowery who at just the age of just 20 has played over 100 games for the club but this has been his real breakthrough season. He has played 48 games this year and has scored 12 goals so if they can hold onto him, I believe he could finish as top scorer in League 2 next season and could interest a lot of clubs in the future and may even have the ability to play in the Premier League one day. Craig Westcarr alongside him up top also added 11 goals this season with eight of them coming in the league. His pace will cause a lot of teams problems and will be a massive threat next season.

The Chesterfield fans have a lot to look forward to next season if they can keep the squad together and this relegation experience may actually do them some good. The fans need to make sure they are right behind the manager and the players because they are a good team but underperformed this year and I personally think it was just a bad year and they will come back stronger.

Sheffield Wednesday are promoted to the Championship

Sheffield Wednesday have gained promotion to the Championship after defeating Wycombe Wanderers on the last day of the season.

So where to start, everyone at the club deserves praise from chairman Milan Mandaric all the way down to the fans who were terrific again on Saturday and just proved that their club deserve to be in a much higher division than League 1 and even put most Premier League teams to shame.

But I am going to start with former manager Gary Megson and first give him praise because in my opinion he deserves a lot of credit for what he has done at Sheffield Wednesday, when he joined the club the players did not understand what playing for Sheffield Wednesday meant and that is the reason why they finished in the bottom half of the league. So in the summer he got rid of a lot of deadwood and players that couldn’t handle playing for such a massive club and brought in players that were wanting to fight for the shirt and give the supporters a Sheffield Wednesday team that they would be proud of and in my opinion made the signing of the season in Jose Semedo. At the start of the season the fans probably would have been happy with the playoffs but there was a chance that the team could finish in the automatic spots so Mandaric had a tough choice to make as it didn’t look like Megson could deliver it.

But fair play to Mandaric, he allowed Megson to take charge of the Derby which was a risk but Wednesday came out on top and everyone got to see how much it meant to Megson when being ridiculed by the United fans he lifted up his shirt and showed them his badge. It was a wonderful moment you just don’t see anymore and it was his passion that got Wednesday that far and it will have hurt him that he was sacked but fast forward a few months and he can have no complaints.

Megson is and always will be a proud Wednesdayite

Dave Jones came in and used everything that Megson had given the team and adding to it by changing the style of play but he always knew that if times were tough in a game he could switch to more of a direct approach as his players could do that. He brought in  Nile Ranger and Keith Treacy to help in the promotion push and they all played their part in getting the team promoted with Ranger and another loan signing Michail Antonio scoring the goals on the final day. What more can you say about Dave Jones he only dropped four points and won manager of the month twice, has there been a better start as a manager?

Onto the players and they deserve credit too because they could have let their heads drop and just been happy with a playoff place especially when United had games in hand and were on a good run but they stuck at and kept going. It was a fantastic effort in the end and they were playing with confidence and gave the fans everything they wanted and more.

I am very happy for Wednesday and their fans because they continually support their team even though there has been very little to shout about in a long time. To make it even sweeter for them they stopped Sheffield United getting promoted so could the season have gone any better? Even Sheffield United’s opponents enjoyed Wednesday’s promotion