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Football League founding fathers facing managerial madness this summer

| 03.05.2016

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 2, 2016

It may surprise you to learn that at least a third of the dozen original founding members of the Football League already must make managerial appointments this summer.

Relegated duo Aston Villa (Premier League) and Bolton Wanderers (Championship) join play-off promotion hopefuls Derby County in being rudderless under caretaker stewardship.

Blackburn Rovers, meanwhile, are seeing their boss Paul Lambert leave after their final game of the 2015/16 campaign. Situations are far from certain at other founding father clubs such as Everton, Preston North End and Stoke City.

There are some ifs, buts and maybes, yet these seven sides that lined up against one another during the original maiden Football League season in 1888/89 could be swept along the managerial merry-go-round.

Coral’s football experts try to make sense of it all, with plenty of opportunities on offer for punters.

Aston Villa

Relegated in all but name before Christmas, there’s plenty to sort out at Villa Park. New manager, new owner, new players needed, and arguably in that order.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Burnley v Leicester City - Turf Moor

Nigel Pearson is the main fancy to take over, having got fellow Midlands outfit Leicester City up in style. David Moyes has also been linked with Villa, but that is just one junction he could take at a coaching career crossroads.

The Villans alternatively might even poach boss Simon Grayson from Preston, with new Birmingham-based board bigwig Brian Little having mentored the Deepdale gaffer during his playing days.

Blackburn Rovers

Lambert is leaving Ewood Park and odds-on at 8/11 to take over at Celtic, putting Rovers owners Venky’s in a position where they must appoint a sixth permanent boss since removing Sam Allardyce in December 2010.

Blackburn have plenty to find if they are to be competitive in the Championship again. Selling striker duo Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes in successive transfer windows has left a huge void in attack,

Paul Jewell – the man who famously cleaned Alan Hansen’s boots as an apprentice at Liverpool, coached Bradford City and Wigan Athletic both to Premier League promotion, and Derby County to the lowest-ever top-flight points tally – is an early favourite to succeed Lambert as Rovers boss.

Soccer - Sky Bet Championship - Middlesbrough v Blackburn Rovers - Riverside Stadium

A popular and alternative appointment from within could be Under-21 assistant David Dunn. He made almost 400 first-team appearances for Blackburn and briefly coached Lancashire rivals Oldham Athletic.

Premier League title winning captain Tim Sherwood will always have the affection of Rovers fans, but will he be ready to come back into management after taking on the most torrid of tasks at Villa?

Bolton Wanderers

The Trotters, who once graced European football and signed ageing stars for a swansong under Sam Allardyce, are now set to play in League One, the third tier, for the first since 1993.

Having failed to court Northampton Town boss Chris Wilder, who coached the Cobblers to promotion from League Two, Bolton remain under the caretaker management of youth chief Jimmy Phillips.

Neil Lennon left Wanderers with their relegation from the Championship all but confirmed, and this is in truth not an attractive job prospect. Out of work trio Uwe Rosler, Steve Cotterill and Gary Bowyer, plus Southend United boss Phil Brown have all been linked.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal - Reebok Stadium

Former Bolton captain Kevin Nolan making a return would go some way to restoring wounded fan pride. His dismissal as manager of Leyton Orient, yet curiously remaining a player could be a situation that Nolan wishes to extricate himself from this summer.

Derby County

Paul Clement’s late winter departure from Pride Park still makes little to no sense. The Rams’ American investors wanted the team to play ‘the Derby way’ with promotion not a priority but improvement on a seventh place finish in 2014/15.

Leaving that headache to one side, caretaker coach Darren Wassall has got County into the Championship play-offs, perhaps helped by the advice of Harry Redknapp.

Birmingham City boss Gary Rowett remains a firm favourite to be the next permanent manager of Derby, as he has allies on the coaching staff and has done a brilliant job across the Midlands on a budget.

Huddersfield Town v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship - The John Smith's Stadium

There’s no other clear, credible candidate with other names talked about in contention for other vacancies, like Brendan Rodgers, who seems set to return to Swansea City.


Roberto Martinez hasn’t lost his job yet, but is strongly odds-on at 1/4 to not be in charge of the Toffees on the first day of next season. It looks highly likely, then, that new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri may sack the Catalan coach among increasing fan unrest.

While top eight Premier League finishes were taken for granted under predecessor Moyes, much more than Everton’s current mid-table presence has been expected of Martinez with a squad that on paper should be challenging for Europe.

This looks like being the second successive season when the Goodison Park club end up in the bottom half. Martinez may pay the price for such underachievement, but thoughts turn to who could take over?

Stoke City v Swansea City - Barclays Premier League - Britannia Stadium

Stoke boss Mark Hughes, who briefly played for the Toffees, emerged as a shock contender to step in, while outgoing Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini could choose to stay in England.

Could Moyes return to Goodison? There’s also some betting support for Southampton coach Ronald Koeman and Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.


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Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.