FOOTBALL: Turn back the clock

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The Independent Online
As ever, hope springs eternal among newly appointed managers. Wolves were 20th in the Endsleigh League First Division as Mark McGhee sat down to his first match in charge on Saturday but, even after slipping further into trouble with defeat at home to Port Vale, McGhee was still tempted to muse upon the prospect of promotion.

The probability is that both he and Howard Kendall, newly installed at Sheffield United, may as well dream on. Sacking the boss remains the standard recourse of a club in trouble, especially in the fiercely competitive second tier, but rarely does a replacement justify the invariably optimistic noises with which he takes the reins.

Last season, eight First Division clubs gave their managers the boot but, in general, the difference it made was negligible. Indeed, three who hit the panic button - Bristol City, Notts County and Swindon Town - wound up relegated anyway. Only Alan Buckley, at West Bromwich, could be said to have genuinely turned the tide - and even then it took seven months' hard labour to drag the Baggies from bottom of the table when he took over on 20 October to a safe 19th at the death.