Paul Newman: When fighting fires call in the Red Adairs of club management

The Football League Column

With two months of the season to go there is still no sign of an end to the flow of managerial sackings. Twenty-seven managers have left the 72 Football League clubs since the start of the campaign, including 15 since Christmas.

When you get to this stage of the season clubs tend to go for experience when they decide to make a change. That was exactly the route that Swindon Town and Northampton Town took last week after Danny Wilson and Ian Sampson were shown the door.

Swindon appointed Paul Hart, the Red Adair of football management, until the end of the season. In recent times he has earned a reputation for steadying clubs in the throes of a relegation crisis. Last season the former Leeds United and Nottingham Forest defender steered Crystal Palace to survival in the Championship despite the deduction of 10 points after the club went into administration. Hart was given his first taste of management by Chesterfield 23 years ago and has since had spells in charge of Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, Rushden & Diamonds, Portsmouth, Queen's Park Rangers and Palace.

Northampton recruited Gary Johnson, who has been in regular employment with League clubs since leaving his job with the Latvian national team 10 years ago. He has also managed Cambridge United, Yeovil Town, Bristol City and Peterborough United.

If Wilson's departure was understandable following Swindon's slide into relegation trouble at the foot of League One – the former Sheffield Wednesday manager offered his resignation after a poor run over the previous two months – Sampson might consider himself hard done by, particularly given his association with Northampton going back nearly 18 years. The former defender made 449 senior appearances for the Cobblers – only Tommy Fowler played more times for the club – and was subsequently employed as youth team coach, first-team coach and manager.

Less than six months ago Sampson was in charge as Northampton enjoyed one of the greatest days in their history, beating Liverpool on penalties at Anfield in the third round of the Carling Cup. Results were mixed thereafter, but they had gone eight matches without defeat – a run that included six successive draws – before they lost 3-2 at home to Burton Albion last Tuesday in his final match in charge. Indeed, until facing Burton, Northampton had lost only three of their previous 19 League matches.

Sampson said he was "deeply saddened" to leave Sixfields. "Given the budget at my disposal at the beginning of the season and our plan for the development of younger players, I thought our mid-table position at the turn of the year was about right," he said. Money was subsequently spenton strengthening the squad in January, but Sampson said that injuries and suspensions meant he had been unable to field his strongest line-up.

A 3-2 defeat on Saturday at home to Shrewsbury Town in Johnson's first game in charge left Northampton in 16th place in League Two, nine points above the relegation zone. Johnson's first verdict was that his new charges, having twice taken the lead, had tired too quickly and did not defend well enough as a team. Nevertheless, the new manager is looking forward to the challenge ahead. "This is the right club at the right time for me," he said.

Swindon are in the more precarious position. Saturday's goalless draw at home to Walsall – only the fourth point the club have taken from their last 12 matches – leaves Hart's team three places off the bottom and three points away from safety.

The new manager said he was "very pleased" with the way the team had gone about their task, while the Swindon public also responded well to the club's plight. The attendance of 10,489 was bettered in League One only by Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday and was the highest at the County Ground since Southampton's visit six months ago.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot