A look back at the previous managerial targets during the most recent upheavals down at the Turf throws up a few questions, says Oliver Norris.
How have the board fared when making the right choices for the club and was the right choice eventually made?
One of Barry Kilby’s first jobs when he took over the not quite sinking, but very leaky, ship was putting his faith in Stan Ternent and giving him the free reign to shake things up and start laying the foundations for what became a solid Championship team. That has to go down as a job well done after Ternent memorably offered his resignation after heavy defeats to Gillingham and Manchester City.
Despite Kilby supporting Ternent throughout his six years at the Turf, the chairman still retained the ability to identify the beginning of a decline and decided a change was needed, allowing Stan’s time to run its course and moving on to a new manager.
Steve Cotterill: Brian Flynn, Ronnie Moore, Steve McMahon
During the search for Ternent’s replacement, the board identified a number of targets, a few of these being Brian Flynn, Ronnie Moore and Steve McMahon. On reflection, despite Cotterill having a less than glowing record behind him in his time at Burnley, his appointment stemmed the flow of goals that Ternent’s policy of score/concede two more than them revelled in. Cotterill provided a platform for the 2008/09 season which saw Burnley promoted with the bulk of the team being provided by Cotterill’s transfer business. Although the streak of 19 league and cup games without a win was difficult to endure, Cotterill shored up the defence and gave Coyle a good grounding to work with. Compare this to Flynn, Moore and McMahon’s influence in the game since 2004 and he’s head and shoulders above them. Two out of two for the board.
Owen Coyle: Brian Laws
In 2007, when Owen Coyle walked into Burnley, it was difficult for anybody, let alone the board, to comprehend just how far he would take us but all in all, it turned out to be an inspired decision. Tipped off by Phil Gartside, the board identified and swooped on the St Johnstone gaffer, starting the ball rolling for a rollercoaster three years. One of the candidates up for the job this time was Brian Laws and Brendan Flood stated in his book that he was an early favourite. We dodged a bullet that year. Peter Reid – last seen being fired by Plymouth Argyle – was another who was interviewed. Three out of three.
Brian Laws: Sean O’Driscoll
Laws came back to bite us however, taking over from Coyle in 2010 and facing a difficult task, he led us back down to the Championship. It was here that he did the most damage, while we should have had a manager who would strike while the iron was hot with a squad superior to that of the majority of the league, we turned in some inept displays and never capitalised on that superiority. On this occasion, the board handed a stick to the fans with which to beat them. Laws appointment was an abysmal decision and this opinion was played out every other Saturday on the Turf. Sean O’Driscoll, after a poor run and despite the unimaginable success he brought to Doncaster on such a small budget, was sacked a year later and has bounced between Nottingham Forest and Crawley since. The style of passing play he is well known for has been implemented at his clubs and compares favourably to that of Laws’ football. Three out of four, then.
Eddie Howe: Derek McInnes, Malky Mackay, Paul Lambert
With a number of decent targets after Brian Laws, the choice was as vital as it was exciting. The club made it clear early on that Lambert was a high priority, his subsequent flirting with the club left a sour taste in the mouth and a slight lack of professionalism seemed apparent. His recent move to Aston Villa may prove that we were saved another vanishing act had Lambert been put in charge. McInnes did eventually make his move south to Bristol City and Mackay took over at Cardiff and looks to be solidifying their role as play-off runner-ups (consistency is the key).
Howe on the other hand managed a falling side, losing major assets along the way and bringing in new ones at the same time. Kieran Trippier and Charlie Austin have turned out to be key players in this squad and Junior Stanislas, Ben Mee, Marvin Bartley and Danny Ings in the coming years could go on to do the same. Admittedly, the form he produced in the league was not up to the high expectations of the club nowadays but there’s not many that could have doubted the appointment at the time given his record. The improvements behind the scenes leave the club in a much better position. The board deserves recognition for that. Four out of five.
If anything can be said for our board and up to last season, Kilby’s reign, it is that they support their manager. Brian Laws aside, their appointments tend to be on the slightly adventurous side of sensible. We have not been graced by the usual likely lads that to-and-fro between their cushy Sky Sports punditry and a dabble in management at a smaller club. We have not had dumped on us the ‘character’, the manager that is good for a few quotes or receives the most airtime on the radio. The board deserves credit for this and has my trust to choose the right man.
Do you believe the board will get it right this time? Comment below.