David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Paul Hart’

Manage Portsmouth: Get A Promotion

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Of all the things you are told to put on your CV in order to get a job, from being an all-powerful prefect at school to joining the ever-crucial debating society at Uni, there is one thing you need on there in the football world to guarantee you an improved career path – Manager of Portsmouth Football Club.

Amid the turbulence that has seen Pompey tumble from the heights of lifting the FA Cup in 2008,through financial crisis to end up in the lower reaches of League One, one thing has been a constant, any manager who has failed to stop the rot has been rewarded with a very attractive job elsewhere.  Unfortunately for this trio of south coast failures, their lack of success followed them to the next port of call, but what was it about their time at Portsmouth that attracted chairmen around the country?

The story starts with Paul Hart in 2009 who, in fairness, kept Pompey in the Premier League when he took over as caretaker at the back end of the 08-09 season. Unfortunately he followed being offered a permanent contract with the worst start any team has ever made to any Premier League season, losing seven straight games.  Understandably he didn’t last long but his reputation was fully intact and despite this record breaking failure he was almost immediately ushered in at the newly mega-rich and highly ambitious Queens Park Rangers.  It didn’t go well, lasting less than a month. He then suffered similarly short spells at Crystal Palace and Swindon.

Hart’s successor at Fratton Park was the difficult to warm-to Avram Grant, who had the first ever points deduction in Premier League history to deal with, but given they finished eleven points adrift at the bottom of the table, even without the deduction it would have finished been last place for Pompey.  It was clearly an incredibly difficult situation for the Israeli, but ultimately he failed nonetheless and the club went down.  Grant though seemed to be held in higher regard at that point than he was when he took Chelsea to a Champions League final and second in the Premier League, and he was immediately offered the West Ham job in the top flight.  Like Hart, this next move was a disaster as he took the Hammers down in his only season at Upton Park.

Steve Cotterill was the man to take the reins at Portsmouth after Grant, again in tricky circumstances but with a decent Championship level team to work with.  The former Notts County manager had a half-decent season, stabilising the club to a degree and finishing a non-descript 16th.  Not going down was an achievement of sorts due to the madness that was going on around the club, but as mentioned there were some good players there, 16th was nothing special and Portsmouth fans were far from enamoured with the style of football he introduced.  It was enough for Nottingham Forest to come calling though after the resignation of Steve McClaren and duly Cotterill returned to Nottingham to take charge at the City Ground.  Again though his move away from Fratton Park was not fruitful, he lasted less than a year at Forest after finishing 19th.

Now we find Michael Appleton in charge at Pompey in League One after they were relegated from the Championship last season.  He has arguably had the most difficult job of all, having to deal with a ten point deduction, which if had not been in place would have seen Portsmouth survive, and then losing nearly his entire squad before the start of this season.  The side are now in the bottom half of League One, and although you would be a fool not to recognise just how difficult the job Appleton is doing is, a relegation and encampment in the bottom half of the league below is not really working miracles.  However, he is now being linked with a return to the Championship and is one of the favourites for the job at Burnley.

So what makes these men who have effectively done little to halt the demise of Portsmouth such attractive propositions for management posts?  Well it seems that it has been their attitude and demeanour during what has been a torrid time for the club that has kept their profiles up.  They have all been dignified, not moaned and complained about what is a shocking situation for a manager to find themselves in and just got on with it.  It seems that getting on with it is what appeals to chairmen and they don’t seem too fussed that it was done with no great success.

The comparison could be drawn with a man mentioned earlier, Steve McClaren who arrived at Nottingham Forest, spent a decent amount of money for Championship level, lost a few games and was off again in no time at all.  Although he got his old job back in Holland, there will have been few chairmen in England who would have been keen to offer McClaren a contract after he displayed that kind of spineless attitude.  It seems that like the tenacious full-back that has no real talent but works his socks off for the team and will always be a fans favourite for it can still be a role applicable to managers.

Appleton may be the one to buck the trend – he has a lot about him, is young and is building a good reputation in the game.  Let’s just hope he doesn’t become the latest in the line of much heralded but ultimately unsuccessful men to manage Portsmouth.

Written by Phil Haigh, We Are Going Up’s Barnsley blogger

Phil tweets at @philhaigh_

Toppo’s Top Tens – Short Managerial Reigns

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Football managers – who’d be one?

It is often said that a new manager needs time to bring in his own players and try out different formations. Despite this the average tenure of bosses has gradually decreased over the past two decades as trigger happy chairmen wield the axe if things fail to go to plan.

The pressure for immediate success from fans and owners is another reason so many managers collect their P45’s each season. Peter Jackson walked away from the Bradford City hotseat last week after a couple of months in charge – hardly enough time to build a successful squad – to become this season’s first managerial casualty in the Football League.

He was in charge of his side for a relatively short period, but it is nothing compared to the reigns of the men below who stretch the phrase ‘short-term’ to its very limits. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ten of the shortest managerial stints in Football League history….

10: Gary Megson, Leicester City

During Milan Mandaric’s spell as owner of Leicester City, it seemed the club changed manager every week. The reality was of course nowhere near that bad, but it wasn’t great either as seven managers occupied the dugout at the Walkers Stadium in a four year period. The fourth of those was Gary Megson, who arrived on September 13th 2007.

He guided the Foxes to their first league win in early October, beating Sheffield Wednesday away 2-0 but was soon attracting interest from Premier League Bolton Wanderers. Mandaric rejected a first approach from Bolton but the Trotters publically stated Megson as their number one choice as a second approach was rebuffed by the Foxes.

After Bolton made another move Megson was given permission to speak to the Trotters and on October 24th he left Leicester City to take over at the Reebok – 41 days and nine league games after joining the club.

9: Dave Penney, Bristol Rovers

Former Doncaster Rovers, Darlington and Oldham Athletic boss Dave Penney was appointed Bristol Rovers manager in January 2011, replacing the sacked Paul Trollope. Rovers were struggling in League One when Penney arrived, by the time he left they were staring relegation in the face.

He took charge for thirteen matches and lost nine of them before being ousted by the West Country club less than two months after joining, a 2-0 loss to Dagenham & Redbridge proving to be the final straw for his employers. Penney’s only wins came against Swindon Town and former club Oldham while his biggest defeat was a 6-1 demolition at fellow strugglers Walsall. 33-year-old club captain Stuart Campbell took over until the end of the season.

8: Steve Coppell, Manchester City

Steve Coppell was appointed Manchester City manager in October 1996, the Sky Blues seeking a quick return to the Premier League having been relegated four months before. Sandwiched between his second and third spells as Crystal Palace boss, he lasted just six games and 33 days at Maine Road before quitting, citing the pressure of the job as his reason for leaving. Unsurprisingly, his tenure is the shortest of any City manager to date.

7: Paul Hart, Queens Park Rangers

Queens Park Rangers moved to appoint Paul Hart as their new boss in December 2009. Hart had a nine month tenure on the South Coast as Portsmouth manager prior to this role, but even that could not have prepared him for what proved to be a brief stay in West London.

Hart’s predecessor Jim Magilton left after falling out with a player and Hart too had a bust up with one of the playing staff, Adel Taarabt before leaving in January 2010, less than a month after his appointment. On the pitch things did not go well under Hart as QPR won one of his five Championship matches in charge against Bristol City, the manager heavily criticised for poor tactics and player selections before being shown the door by Flavio Briatore.

6: Bill Lambton, Scunthorpe United

Former goalkeeper Bill Lambton managed just three official league appearances as a player.  Having moved into coaching Lambton following retirement, he turned up at Leeds United as manager in December 1958. He stayed there for just four months, a lengthy tenure compared to his next job at Glanford Park. Lambton took over as Scunthorpe United manager before a 3-0 defeat to Huddersfield in his first game in charge saw his reign brought to a very swift end, three days after it had begun.

5: Martin Allen, Leicester City

Back to the East Midlands for the third of Milan Mandaric’s Leicester City managers.  Martin Allen arrived at the Walkers in May 2007 having had success at Brentford and MK Dons in the previous three seasons.

However soon into Allen’s reign his relationship began to deteriorate with chairman Mandaric over disagreements about transfer targets. The former West Ham and QPR midfielder’s contract was terminated by mutual consent on August 29th 2007, after just four matches in charge.

4: Micky Adams, Swansea City

Current Port Vale boss Micky Adams took charge of the then-struggling Swansea City in Division Three not long after the start of the 1997-98 season, having guided Fulham to promotion from the league’s basement division in 1997. However the 36-year-old left South Wales after 13 days and 3 games in charge, claiming money promised to strengthen the squad never materialised.

3: Steve Coppell, Bristol City

Steve Coppell makes his second appearance in this list for his brief stint as Bristol City boss in the summer of 2010. Having enhanced his managerial CV by steering Reading to the Premier League for the first time in their history, alongside his achievements at Palace, all seemed rosy as the former Manchester United midfielder arrived at Ashton Gate to replace Gary Johnson as manager.

England goalkeeper David James joined from Portsmouth and the Robins were instilled as pre-season favourites for promotion from the Championship. However two games and 112 days later Coppell walked away from the club and retired from football management with immediate effect, claiming he could not ‘become passionate about the role and give the commitment the position needs.’ It was 1996 all over again.

2: Dave Bassett, Crystal Palace

Dave Bassett established himself as one of the brightest managerial talents outside the top flight as he oversaw Wimbledon’s incredible rise up the Football League. He won three promotions with the Crazy Gang in four seasons before accepting an offer to become manager at Crystal Palace in June 1984. Technically Bassett never signed a contract with the Eagles, however after four days at Selhurst Park he quit, refused to sign on the dotted line and returned to Wimbledon.

1: Kevin Cullis, Swansea City

Probably not the most well-known gaffer on this list but his is a name Swansea City fans try to forget in a hurry. Kevin Cullis was appointed manager at the Vetch Field in February 1996 by new chairman Michael Thompson as the club languished in Division Three. He had never played professional football and his only previous managerial experience came as the Youth Coach of non-league Cradley Town in the West Midlands.

His career at the Swans lasted two games in which his side shipped five goals and lost twice. In his second match against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, Cullis’ half-time team talk was apparently ignored as the players took control and he soon resigned, 13 days after his appointment. The phrase ‘lost the dressing room’ could not be more apt.

Written by Steven Toplis, We Are Going Up blogger.

Tweet Steven at @steven_toplis with your suggestions for Toppo’s Top Tens.