I have put together this article on a day when Shaun Derry, in his first management role, for a club that he supported growing up, played for at youth and professional level, was sacked. I’m showcasing the talent that the English Leagues has, hopefully by portraying three excellent candidates that will prove to be decent, top end managers.
Justin will be remembered by many as a Spurs defender, but to me, he was the bane of my life at Primary School, given I had about 25 Justin Edinburgh stickers for swaps which I never got rid of. Other people are more forgiving about Justin, especially teams like Newport County, in which he joined in 2011. Before joining the Exiles, he made himself a name at Rushden and Diamonds from gaining the job as manager Garry Hill left in 2009. He then single-handedly went to make waves in his first season by narrowly missing promotion to the footballing league by being beaten in the playoffs against Oxford.
Following the liquidation of R&D he became Newport County’s manager in October 2011 and despite just avoiding relegation, he made his mark on the FA Trophy by getting all the way to the final only to lose to York City. Losing at the final hurdle may have seemed like a common theme for Justin at the time, but made it count the next season by guiding Newport County to the Footballing League with only a short absence of 25 years…
Claiming the Manager of the year in the Conference, he began to deny links to all League Two sides, ranging from Portsmouth to Northampton, but when League One side Gillingham came calling this season in February, he found the opportunity to compelling to turn down. For his track record in steadying the ship in the first season and making a decent crack in the second, I’m very keen to find out what becomes of the Gills next season, if indeed, he isn’t poached first.
The man from Bromsgrove had the opportunity in becoming a manager for two Championship clubs that he’d previously played for, in Blackpool and Birmingham this year, but given the structure of the clubs at the minute, decided with the latter, and what a move it’s been so far.
Not that a decision was made out of thin air by either Blackpool or Birmingham to get Gary at the helm; This was made clear to them given his track record of excellent seasons at Burton Albion. Albion are known for their judgement and often successful management selections ranging from club legend Nigel Clough through to present manager, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink. After gaining promotion from the Conference, Paul Peschisolido was placed in charge of the Brewers in which the brilliance was appointing Gary as his number two. Paul’s career didn’t take off well but as soon as he left and Rowett in charge, the Brewers fortune changed. Two successive seasons of hitting the playoffs, but dismay at never gaining promotion Gary left for Birmingham.
Rowett has been something of a transformation at Birmingham, given that when he’d arrived, Lee Clark had pretty much lost all faith from the Brum fans not helped by being unable to win in front of the home fans in 18 matches. Clark had the lowest win ratio Birmingham had seen in the 25 years that it ironically took Newport County to get back into the Footballing League. With Rowett, alongside players at his disposal with the likes of the outstandingly talented Demerai Gray and the revitalised Cotterill and Donaldson, had led them to 7 wins and losing only 2 in his first 14 matches at St. Andrews. Given that this is still his first half season with Birmingham, I’m thoroughly looking forward to what they can produce in upcoming seasons given the youth prospects in Gray, Redmond and upcoming Reece Brown all coming through the ranks.
One of the first articles I had published was about halfway through his first stint at Bournemouth. If memory serves me right, my thoughts we’re that his side looked fantastic, not hard given the opposition was my own Notts County in a season were they run riot on the league. Rumour was that he’d rejected an official approach to replace Darren Ferguson. I went on to say that it wouldn’t be long before Mr Eddie Howe went on to bigger and better things. He of course did, reflecting back on it now, but his story is one of loyalty and admiration thereafter.
Moving to a big job in Burnley during a harsh cold of January in 2011, after a hardened Owen Coyle had resigned, Howe was touted as one of those “up and coming managers”, a stigma that could potentially ruin a career given the wrong club at the wrong time. Howe had a lot going for him, giving youth a go, obviously well-liked in and outside of the dressing room, successful in organising a team and something that Burnley overlooked, a piece of the furniture at Bournemouth.
Making 201 appearances for Bournemouth in an eight-year stint he moved into management at just the age of 30 after coaching both the reserve and the youth teams, he made his step up when Jimmy Quinn was sacked at the end of 2008. With a 17-point deficit, it was Eddie’s guile and man-management that helped them turn it round and survive relegation. Next season they broke out of League Two after being there for two years and found themselves in league one in the same year that my beloved Notts were promoted.
I anticipated that he’d move to a big job or to be more precise a big club and obliviously looked past his loyalty and passion for Bournemouth, a club that held him in very high regard, swaying further than the board and management of the club. In 2004, the Bournemouth chairman Peter Phillips made an appeal to fan’s and supporters to re-sign Howe from Portsmouth, in which they made up in two days.
He took over the reigns at Turf Moor a year after they were relegated from the Premiership but soon found himself missing the pull of the South Coast, and after his mother died in March 2012, Eddie realised he needed to be close to his family and footballing family, Bournemouth. Moving back with his Assistant in Jason Tindall, the man he’d taken from Bournemouth to Burnley, only then to go back to Bournemouth (The two racked up some air miles in those 21 months in charge). The two had set down some foundations at Burnley, in which they believed in strongly for the next manager (Match of The Days pundit crush and much loved Sean Dyche). Back to Bournemouth and within the year had gained them promotion from League One to the Championship and with excellent signings such as Matt Ritchie, Eunan O’Kane and Yann Kermogant alongside players that have been with the side since League Two, in McQuoid and Pitman, find themselves in a similar situation gunning down the Championship’s automatic places.
Only 37, Eddie is renowned for a Bournemouth side that a direct and rely on technical and physical players, for example Wilson and Kermogant. Genuinely the bigger players but still with great technical ability, Howe possesses an excellent eye for fitting the gap where players are to fit in to his squad. And given he is still only 37, and Bournemouth have a larger financial backing than most people in football realise, they may just become a Premiership squad and he may just prove himself in unison with the elitists.