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.







News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam