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
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
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

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little