James Bolton gives a run-down on all the recent managerial changes in England's second tier and gives an insight into which clubs he believes have done the best deals...
Blackburn Rovers – Henning Berg replaces Steve Kean (resigned)
In truth, pretty much the entire length of Steve Kean’s tenure at Blackburn Rovers was a complete mess. He took the helm when the club were comfortably sat in 11th place in the Premier League before he provoked large scale protests with poor results - wasting millions of pounds on unproven foreign imports - and ultimately took them down to The Championship. The Venky’s, Blackburn’s controversial owners, should have sacked him in the summer following the club’s relegation and ended the whole horrid ordeal. His spell in charge was to last another four months before he was forced to resign, with Rovers sitting 3rd in The Championship.
Over four weeks passed before The Venky’s named his successor, and that man was Henning Berg. A three time Premier League winner (once with Blackburn and twice with Manchester United) his playing career in England can hardly be scrutinised. His managerial career has seen him take charge of FC Lyn Oslo and Lillestrøm in his homeland of Norway with mixed success. But despite this being his first venture into the English managerial game, you get the feeling that might not matter for Blackburn. After 21 months of being disillusioned and divided under Kean’s leadership, they just need someone to unite behind, and there can’t be many better than Berg.
Burnley – Sean Dyche replaces Eddie Howe (appointed Bournemouth manager)
Eddie Howe, previously the Football League’s youngest ever manager, arrived at Turf Moor after earning promotion to League One with Bournemouth. However, those fortunes didn’t continue in the North West. Indifferent spells of form meant the Clarets never really got close to the heights they managed under former boss Owen Coyle who guided them to the Premier League in 2009. Howe took the opportunity to return to Bournemouth when their managerial post become available, putting the move down to family reasons. The club have appointed Sean Dyche as their new manager, who was extremely unfortunate to lose his job during the summer as part of Watford’s Italian revolution. Dyche is certainly deserving of another, longer lasting stab at managing in The Championship, and with a strong backroom staff of Ian Woan and Tony Loughlan, I think he will be a very solid appointment. Although, with one of the division’s leakiest defences, much may hinge on whether they hang onto runaway top scorer Charlie Austin in January.
Bolton Wanderers – Dougie Freedman replaces Owen Coyle (sacked)
Although Dougie Freedman’s record doesn’t exactly jump off the page when you read it, he is nevertheless another member of the very good crop of young managers plying their trade in England’s second tier. Prior to Palace’s unbeaten run of eight games that saw them break into the top six, Freedman had won just three of the previous 25 league fixtures. This season though, the Eagles have been playing fluent and attractive football and Freedman has done that while bringing through some very exciting young players, most notably Wilfried Zaha and Jonathan Williams. Bolton have arguably the strongest squad in the division, and despite Freedman saying he is 'in it for the long game,' the pressure will certainly be on him to get Bolton back into the Premier League sooner rather than later.
Crystal Palace – Ian Holloway replaces Dougie Freedman (appointed Bolton Wanderers manager)
Of all six clubs that have undergone a managerial change, I think Crystal Palace have probably come off best having acquired the services of now former Blackpool manager Ian Holloway. It’s actually a bit of a coup and will make fans of some teams (possibly even those featured in this article) rather jealous. While it might look like a bit of a sideward career step for Holloway given Blackpool’s recent spell in the Premier League and Crystal Palace’s mediocre finish last season, he needed a change. You got the sense that frustration was building at Bloomfield Road. He played some great football with Blackpool and won a lot of admirers and now he has the chance to do the same with Palace. He has targeted promotion, but personally I think that might be a step too far, especially if they don’t manage to hold onto Wilfried Zaha in January or if Glenn Murray goes through a barren spell of form.
With the strength of some of the squads in this division, I think a top-eight finish would be a massive success for Palace, but there is always one team who is a surprise package.
Blackpool – Michael Appleton replaces Ian Holloway (appointed Crystal Palace manager)
From the outside looking in, swapping Holloway for Appleton does not look like a good move at all. As has already been alluded to, it was probably time Holloway moved on and his replacement arrives from arguably the Football League's most troubled club, Portsmouth. After being forced to end his playing days early due to injury, Appleton became a highly respected coach during his time at West Bromwich Albion working with Roy Hodgson. He was appointed Portsmouth boss in November 2011 but horrendous off the field problems meant he couldn’t save them from relegation to League One in May. Things didn’t get any easier on the South Coast with lots of the Pompey squad signing on one month deals, and while Appleton won’t have anything like those extremes to deal with at Bloomfield Road, you get the feeling chairman Karl Oyston is being prudent with the purse strings.
Nevertheless, if Appleton can hold onto the better players in his squad, this is a great opportunity for another up and coming British manager to prove himself.
Ipswich Town – Mick McCarthy replaces Paul Jewell (departed club by mutual consent)
Mick McCarthy is a manager whose credentials at this level are very good indeed having won this division twice - with Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively. At Ipswich Town he faces a very different proposition with the club bottom of the league. McCarthy’s honeymoon period was short lived as the Tractor Boys were trounced 5-0 in just his second game.
For Ipswich, what is important is they don’t try and run before they can walk. McCarthy may have come in praising the club's stature and saying it deserves to be in the top flight, but the fact is they are a long, long way from that. For McCarthy, I think Ipswich will be more of a building project. This season is all but a write off in terms of achieving anything at the upper end of the table and in my opinion they need a fairly large squad overhaul if they’re going to be fighting in the top six even next season. Traditionally, Ipswich back their managers with both time and money, and McCarthy will need a decent amount of both if he is to succeed .