Football League Daily – Knill replaces Barraclough as Scunthorpe look to avoid relegation

It is very possible that Bury and Scunthorpe United could play each other in Npower League One next season, but for now the two clubs are divided by two divisions, and that was one of the key reasons that persuaded Alan Knill to leave his post at the promotion chasing Shakers yesterday to take the helm at the relegation threatened Irons.

Scunthorpe currently sit in 23rd place in the Championship, five points adrift of safety with just eight games remaining. Former boss Ian Barraclough lasted just six months in the post after taking over from Nigel Adkins in September.

Adkins’ tenure was always likely to cast a shadow over Barraclough’s reign. Despite the tongue in cheek nature of Scunthorpe’s fans singing “Who needs Mourinho, We’ve got our physio”, Adkins performed miracles on the shoestring budget available to him at Glanford Park. Developing players such as Billy Sharp, Andy Keogh, Martin Patterson and Gary Hooper as well as winning promotion from League One twice and then keeping Scunthorpe up last season was always likely to bring bigger clubs sniffing around. When Southampton came calling it was too attractive a proposition for him to turn down, and he has proved his worth to the Saints by keeping them in the League One promotion race.

Barraclough, as a former Adkins player, was a safe choice for the Scunthorpe board, but was unable to match his old boss’s success. The sale of star player Martyn Woolford to Bristol City in January was a bitter blow and coupled with Scunthorpe’s dismal home form, saw the Irons sink into deep trouble. Despite some movement in the transfer market in January, Barraclough was unable to turn things around and was fired on 16th March.

Speaking to BBC Radio Humberside, Scunthorpe General Manager David Beeby admitted that Knill was always the preferred candidate to take over once the decision had been made to relieve Barraclough of his duties. “Alan was always our number one target and we’re glad we have got him,” adding: “At one stage we thought we might have to wait until the end of the season but we’re delighted to have Alan and his team in place for the remaining games of the season.”

The reason for the potential delay was Bury’s position in League Two, as The Shakers sit just outside the automatic promotion places. However with the two clubs thrashing out a compensation deal, Knill was free to go. Despite his past association with Scunthorpe, playing 150 games for the club, Knill admitted it was a difficult decision to leave Bury. “I’m really close with the players and the board and it’s one that I haven’t taken lightly,” he told BBC Radio Manchester. He was tempted though by Scunthorpe’s current status and future potential. “I had the opportunity to go and manage in the Championship. Even if they came down I feel they are going to be a strong side in League One,” he said.

He faces a difficult first fixture, a trip to 2nd placed Norwich City, although it has not yet been decided if he will take charge of team affairs or leave the side in the hands of caretaker boss Tony Daws.

Bury, who face Oxford United at the weekend, have as yet made no announcement as to who will take over team affairs.

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