Hart in charge at fast-moving Barnsley

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The Independent Football

If Paul Hart felt Nottingham Forest acted in haste in dismissing him less than nine months after leading the club into a play-off challenge, he might consider the plight of his predecessor in his new job at Barnsley.

When Gudjon Thordarson, sacked and replaced with Hart on Thursday, complains about not having been given enough time, you really can see his point. In charge at Oakwell for only eight months - Hart held his job at the City Ground for two and a half years - the Icelander had his Barnsley team in second place in November and fourth as recently as the end of January.

He hands over with Barnsley still a mere four points outside the play-off places. Yet a run of one win in 11 games since Boxing Day was considered unacceptable by chairman Peter Ridsdale, although one suspects the writing may have been on the wall for Thordarson from the moment Forest decided Hart's time was up just four weeks ago today.

Ridsdale, the former Leeds chairman, was hugely impressed by Hart's work as youth team coach at Elland Road and the regular touting of Hart's name in connection with Leeds was no coincidence.

"Introducing a new manager means we've had to part with somebody under difficult circumstances," Ridsdale said. "Obviously Gudjon has gone and we had an outstanding relationship, but football is all about winning football matches, and following one win since Boxing Day we felt he was not going to take Barnsley where we wanted to go."

Ridsdale's hope is that Hart can spur Barnsley towards "an outside chance of the play-offs" although should they beat sixth-placed Luton at Oakwell today in Hart's first game in charge, they may look rather better than long shots.

Plymouth, the managerless leaders, meanwhile, are in Nottingham to tackle resurgent Notts County, while Bristol City, having surged to the top with 11 consecutive wins, need to regain their form at Stockport after the tiniest of stumbles -- a defeat at Sheffield Wednesday and a draw at home to Wycombe -- allowed Plymouth to go clear again.

In the Third Division, second-placed Hull travel to Mansfield (6th) and Oxford (3rd) meet Huddersfield (4th) in matches that might both benefit leaders Doncaster, who played last night.