News and Views from the Football League – The assistants step up

It’s been another busy week in the Football League with much of the news coming out of Cambridgeshire. It was confirmed on Tuesday that Peterborough United had parted company with manger Darren Ferguson by mutual consent.

Ferguson’s final game in charge of Posh had been the 3-1 defeat away to Newcastle on Sunday, and rumours had been rife that club and manager would soon be going their separate ways. Indeed, the official announcement came on Tuesday. Peterborough have suffered a disappointing start to the league campaign it has to be said. Despite having only just achieved promotion to the Championship, Ferguson’s men were widely tipped to steer themselves well clear of the drop-zone, with many even suggesting that a promotion chase would have been a realistic expectation. The reality of the situation however is that Posh find themselves bottom of the division, having accumulated a miserly tally of 11 points from their 16 games. With statistics like this, it was perhaps inevitable that a change was on the cards.

Now of course it is not unusual for a change of management when a club finds itself in a position such as that of Peterborough’s. Yet this particular case is an odd one for the fact that Ferguson has led the club to two successive automatic promotions. The London Road side have come a long way in a very short space of time under the Scot’s astute stewardship. Club chairman Darragh MacAnthony undoubtedly has big plans for the future of the club and nobody will be happy to see the team struggling this time around. However, given just how far the club have come in the last few seasons, this separation appears to be somewhat of a strange decision for both sides. Perhaps there is more than meets the eye with this case.

Needless to say, Ferguson had proven himself a popular figure with the fans and still looks to be one of the most promising managerial talents in British football. His departure has angered many, but as is football, thoughts are turning to his successor. There is no shortage of talented candidates out there but many have already been ruled out. In a press conference, MacAnthony has stated that Peter Taylor, Gareth Southgate and Steve Coppell are all out of the running. Some big names to just dismiss, but this is a club with big ambitions.

On the south coast, Eddie Howe has worked wonders with Bournemouth, but Posh have been denied permission to speak to the youngest manager in the Football League. Howe and the Cherries have confirmed that they are both very happy with the status quo. Chris Wilder of Conference National leaders Oxford has also been linked with the post, but his is another name which MacAnthony has dismissed. It does beg the question as to who the club are lining up, with so many names supposedly out of the running already. A speedy appointment is hoped for, with the new boss being in place by this coming Sunday. Time will only tell as to whether this happens, and if the club will be able to get their number one target.

In League 1, Brighton have moved swiftly to replace the axed Russell Slade, with Gus Poyet being appointed as the new boss at the Withdean Stadium. Poyet has previously held coaching roles at Swindon, Leeds and most recently Tottenham but will take charge of a club himself for the first time on Sunday when his side travels to Southampton. A difficult start for the manager undoubtedly but things won’t get any easier anytime soon for the Uruguayan. An FA Cup replay against Wycombe follows on Wednesday before games against Leeds, Norwich and Charlton respectively. Now that is a baptism of fire if ever football has served one up.

Dipping into League 2 now and Aldershot have moved to replace former boss Gary Waddock and have confirmed the appointment of former Reading coach Kevin Dillon. The Shots had appointed Jason Dodd as caretaker manager after Waddock left to take the Wycombe hotseat in October. However, with Dodd quitting the club to take up a role with his beloved Southampton, the position was vacant for Dillon to step in. Dillon’s playing career saw him turn out for many top sides including Birmingham and Newcastle, and he was on Steve Coppell’s coaching staff at Reading taking his leave from the Royals over the summer. Coppell has been linked with many clubs recently, but wherever he next does turn up, it seems that he won’t be joined by Dillon, who is taking the helm at a club for the first time.

It’s great to see coaches making the step up to first team management. The work of an assistant or a coach often goes unnoticed by the fans and the Press, and so should their new clubs thrive under their tutelage, Poyet and Dillon should finally receive the acknowledgement that their hard work deserves. Of course, in the harsh world of football, only time will tell if their appointments were the right decision, or indeed if they will join the many others on the scrapheap of – ‘great assistant, poor manager’.

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