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Profiling England’s up and coming managers



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 Edinburgh

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.

Gary Rowett

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.

Eddie Howe

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.

Football sadist by choice, only choosing to go to lower league matches when the weather is terrible.


Burnley 0-1 Manchester United: Three talking points from Turf Moor

Rob Meech



Photo: Reuters

Anthony Martial scored the only goal of the game as Manchester United recorded their third consecutive victory by seeing off Burnley at Turf Moor. In a game devoid of end-to-end entertainment, the Frenchman struck in the 54th minute when his right-footed shot found the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Burnley tried in vain to force a leveller but could not find a way past David de Gea, as their winless run extended to seven Premier League matches. United, meanwhile, have maintained their grip on second spot but remain 12 points drift of runaway leaders Manchester City. Here are three talking points…

United pass another away-day test

Despite rumours of unrest at Old Trafford, United are now unbeaten in eight Premier League matches. While their hopes of reeling in Manchester City may be remote, Jose Mourinho’s men are red-hot favourites to finish as runners-up. That would be a huge improvement on last season – their first under Mourinho – where United finished sixth. It was only their success in the Europa League that guaranteed them a place in the Champions League.

The Red Devils are definitely progressing and the expected arrival of Alexis Sanchez would give them another dimension. In particular, their away form will please Mourinho. This was United’s fifth victory in their past six Premier League games on their travels, a run that is helping to keep the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool at bay.

Burnley is a notoriously tricky place to visit, but United withstood the physical threat of the hosts and just about had enough to claim all three points.

Burnley are feeling the effects

When looking at the table, Burnley’s position appears to be very comfortable. In eighth place and with 34 points to their name, the Clarets are all but guaranteed to be playing Premier League football again next season. That would have been manager Sean Dyche’s priority and he can feel satisfied with the job he has done.

Nonetheless, this is a difficult period for Burnley, who have not tasted victory since they beat Stoke City on December 12. Scoring goals has been their biggest problem, having drawn a blank in four of their seven-game winless  run. The Clarets are not renowned as being free-scoring – they have found the net only 19 times this season – and rely on a solid defensive foundation.

Perhaps the exertions of their promising start have taken their toll on a settled side. The challenge for Dyche, who had been linked with the Everton job during the height of Burnley’s success, is to ensure his players do not fall into the trap of thinking they have nothing to play for.

Martial is making rapid progress

The Frenchman began the campaign out of favour at United, but he has regained his place in the side thanks to a series of consistent performances. His output has been productive, too. His goal against Burnley was his third in a row, taking him to 11 for the season. Allied to his seven assists, Martial is beginning to fulfil his immense potential.

He cut a frustrated figure at being kept out of the starting XI by Marcus Rashford – there was even speculation he might be on his way out of Old Trafford. But Martial said all the right things publicly and is no longer in the ‘supersub’ category. Competition for places will only intensify if and when Sanchez’s switch from Arsenal is completed.

But the former Monaco starlet should not fear the Chilean’s arrival, but relish it. He has proved he can be a trustworthy player for United. Like Luke Shaw, he is another to have benefited from some stern words from Mourinho, who will soon have an embarrassment of attacking riches to call upon.

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Manchester United 2-2 Burnley: Three talking points from Old Trafford



Photo: Reuters

Jesse Lingard came off the bench to strike deep into injury-time as Manchester United came from two goals down to salvage a dramatic point against Burnley at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

Going into the match with the chance to close the gap to Manchester City at the top of the table to ten points, the hosts got off to the worst possible start when Ashley Barnes poked home with just three minutes on the clock after a melee in the box.

And it went from bad to worse not long after when Steven Defour struck a superb free-kick out of the reach of David de Gea to leave the visitors dreaming of a first victory at Old Trafford since 1962.

Jose Mourinho rang the changes at half-time and it was Jesse Lingard who, just moments after missing a sitter from a yard out, hauled his side back into the match with a delicate back-heel finish.

United piled on the pressure as they went in search of an equaliser but they were met with typically determined defending by Burnley, until the ball dropped to Lingard in the second minute of time added on to fire home a shot into the corner and break Burnley hearts in the most dramatic of ways.

The result will do little to increase United’s title diminishing title hopes though, who now sit 12 points behind their rivals and have a game in hand against Newcastle United, whilst Burnley move to within a point of the top six.

United falter again as title drifts further away

For the second time in just a matter of days there was injury-time drama for Manchester United after substitute Jesse Lingard tucked home in the 92nd minute to salvage a late point for the hosts.

Whilst Boxing Day’s draw will leave a slightly better taste in the mouth than their one against Leicester City at the weekend as this time it was them who came from behind to claim a point right at the death, it does little to detract from the fact that the Premier League title is now all-but lost.

The gap between United and rivals Manchester City was reduced to 12 points on Tuesday but, considering City play a lowly Newcastle United later today, it’s likely to be up to a huge 15 points by Thursday morning.

Whilst Burnley were well-regimented and showed the defensive prowess that has become accustomed with Sean Dyche’s side this season, there was an all-too similar feeling of déjà vu from last season as the hosts failed to truly test Nick Pope despite amounting over 75% possession.

Jose Mourinho’s experiment with both Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic starting failed to produce any meaningful impact and, until Lingard’s intervention, they were staring an unlikely defeat in the face.

The Portuguese boss claimed post-match that there is ‘not enough’ funds being given to him to improve his squad – despite spending nearly £300million since taking over as manager – in comparison to Manchester City, but on the day there’s no debating they have the resources to beat a side like Burnley at home.

Surprise package Burnley continue to ruffle feathers

In a week that saw people tuck into turkey across the country for Christmas Day, Burnley continue to ruffle some feathers of their own after coming agonisingly close to claiming a first win against Manchester United at Old Trafford in 55 years.

After being convincingly beaten by Tottenham at home last time out, it was the perfect response from the Clarets in a match that proved they have the temperament to battle with the best teams in the league.

It was arguably a classic snatch and grab performance from the visitors, taking their two chances from set-pieces with their only two shots on target of the game, but their fast start enabled them to soak up pressure inside their own half and get ten men behind the ball.

Whilst a point will come with mixed emotions due to the manner in which they were pegged back during injury-time, it maintained their mightily impressive run on the road against the top six sides.

This season Dyche’s side have already beaten Chelsea and drawn with Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United, picking up more points (six) than any other team in the Premier League so far.

Not many would have expected Burnley to be able to continue their fine start but, with over half of the campaign done and dusted, there’s a real possibility that they could achieve something miraculous this season, and the likes of Arsenal will now be nervously looking over their shoulders.

Lingard to the rescue as substitute continues purple patch

Whilst Manchester United may be in the midst of what some would call a ‘slump’ having won just two of their past five Premier League matches, one positive to come from their run is Jesse Lingard.

The 25-year-old has quietly gone about his business this season under the radar, slowly becoming one of the first names on Jose Mourinho’s team sheet and ousting the likes of Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford.

And after being a squad player for the best part of the last few seasons at Old Trafford, every now and then popping up with a vital goal – such as the FA Cup final winner in 2016 – he has suddenly taken his game to the next level as a result of playing in a more free, central role behind the strikers.

Deployed behind Romelu Lukaku his pace can turn defence into attack in an instance for United as shown against Watford and Arsenal, and it was his impact from the bench that earnt his side a point.

Some may question why he didn’t start considering his prolific recent form but he made up for lost time once introduced at half-time, producing a sublime back-heel flick into the far corner to reduce the home side’s arrears before being in the right place in the 92nd minute to fire a half-volley home.

It could have been an even better afternoon for the England international too had he not been denied from a yard out by Nick Pope but, on the day, his manager will be thankful for his exploits.

For a man that has rarely been spoken about as a future first-team player he’s certainly giving people something to think about, and his brace – the first to be made by a United substitute since 2015 – now means that he’s been involved in more goals this season (six goals, four assists) than the likes of Eden Hazard, Dele Alli and Alexis Sanchez, and that’s not bad company to keep.

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Three talking points as impressive Burnley downed Bournemouth

Rob Meech



Burnley climbed to sixth in the Premier League thanks to a thoroughly deserved 2-1 victory away to Bournemouth. Goals from Chris Wood and Robbie Brady either side of half-time put the Clarets on course for all three points. And although Joshua King halved the arrears 10 minutes from time, the Cherries could not force an equaliser as they slipped to their first defeat since October.

With their seventh win of the campaign, the Lancashire outfit have moved above Tottenham Hotspur in the table, while Bournemouth dropped to 15th after an off-colour performance. Here are three talking points to emerge from a bitterly cold evening at the Vitality Stadium.

Sean Dyche triumphs in battle of the English managers

This game was billed as a contest between two of the brightest young managers in England – and there was a clear victor. Burnley dominated the 90 minutes and perfectly executed Sean Dyche’s game-plan. They never let Bournemouth get a foothold on proceedings and capitalised on the break.

The Clarets are often described as a long-ball side and dull, but the football they produced was far superior to that of Bournemouth, who are renowned as an attractive team to watch. Meanwhile, Dyche’s opposite number Eddie Howe – celebrating his 40th birthday – was left scratching his head after his side’s insipid display.

The Cherries headed into this clash three games unbeaten, but the worrying signs that appeared during the goalless draw with Swansea at the weekend were magnified here. There was precious little creativity and too much sideways passing. Tellingly, the midfield two of Harry Arter and Andrew Surman were completely outnumbered and outplayed.

Burnley’s remarkable transformation on their travels

Much was written about Burnley’s poor away form last season, which was in stark contrast to their results at Turf Moor. But from the moment they shocked Premier League champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the season, the Clarets have looked perfectly at ease on their travels.

This victory over Bournemouth followed wins against Everton and Southampton, as well as draws with Liverpool and Spurs. Burnley’s only away defeat came at table-topping Manchester City. These 14 points are double what they earned in the entirety of last season. It is a remarkable turnaround and testament to the work Dyche has done with his well-drilled squad.

Each player knows his own role inside out. In truth, they never looked in any trouble against Bournemouth once Wood had opened the scoring. On this evidence, it is no surprise to see Burnley riding high in the table – they are there on merit and will continue to succeed if taken lightly.

Goals are in short supply for timid Bournemouth

In their first two seasons in the Premier League, Bournemouth entertained audiences with goals aplenty at both ends of the pitch. The dramatic 4-3 victory over Liverpool and 3-3 draw against Everton spring to mind. This season though, excitement has been replaced with pragmatism.

The Cherries have become harder to beat, but the trade off has been that, despite the arrival of a striker of Jermain Defoe’s pedigree, they have found goals tougher to come by. Bournemouth have scored 12 times in 14 matches so far, with a third of those coming in the 4-0 thumping of Huddersfield Town earlier this month.

The challenge facing Howe is to get the best of both worlds. In a division as competitive and unforgiving as the Premier League, that is no easy task. But the consensus is, currently, the Cherries have compromised too much on the brand of football which has made them so watchable.

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