Wednesday afternoon saw the sacking of Paul Tisdale and now The Gas are looking for their third manager of the season and their fourth in just over two years since Darrell Clarke left the club by mutual consent.
The board appointed Tisdale very quickly after sacking Ben Garner and now need to bring in a man tasked with keeping the club in the third tier at all costs. Garner built a team that Tisdale inherited and in truth it was strong on paper through the first two thirds of the pitch.
However, by Garner’s decision or the boards, we went into the season with two unproven at League One strikers in the form of Jonah Ayunga (23) and James Daly (21) alongside Brandon Hanlan (23) who scored 13 in 74 league games for League One’s mid table specialists Gillingham.
These three youngsters have been tasked with replacing the goals scored by Jonson Clarke-Harris who is now one of the league’s top goal scorer’s at Peterborough and the fact of the matter is that not one of them is ready to carry that burden.
Tisdale’s final interview as manager showcased to everyone what he thought of the three strikers and that may have had some impact on his sacking.
‘They are strikers for the future but not the here and now, someone needs to put the ball in the back of the net.’
Now it is common knowledge that he should have strengthened that area of the pitch, a striker was needed but a Goalkeeper and a right back turned up and now we’re scraping around the free agent market looking for a proven goal scorer to get us out of this mess.
The next appointment is crucial, whoever the board does decide on entrusting the League One status of Bristol Rovers with has a mighty task on their hands. Below we’re going to be looking into the contenders and who should take charge.
Now unless the person appointed only wants the job on a short-term basis, the chances are that if they keep us up then we will be seeing them on the touchline from the terraces once we return to the Mem.
Tommy ‘100%’ Widdrington – 4/5 Bookies Favourite
One short term option is the bookies favourite and current caretaker boss, Tommy ‘100%’ Widdrington. Widdrington’s first stint as caretaker this season oversaw a win over Chelsea U23’s and the Director of Football has had a hand in bringing the vast majority of players at the club through the door and could be seen as an ideal short term candidate should he hit the ground running over the next couple of weeks.
This appointment though could further the divide between the board and the fans during a time where fans already feel isolated from the club and that is why therefore I personally don’t think he will be the man chosen to attempt to lure The Gas away from danger.
Pros: Signed the squad so has some knowledge in how they should line up together.
Cons: Signed the squad with more imbalance than a three-legged goat.
Lee Mansell – 4/1 and/or Byron Anthony – 6/1
If you want someone to unite the fanbase and bridge any divide between the board and fans, then look no further than appointing a cult hero. With Darrell Clarke at Walsall and Ian Holloway rumoured to not be interested, then step forward Lee Mansell.
The 2015 play-off final penalty will forever live in the memory of Gasheads young and old and with the former Torquay man still at the club managing the development side, it may be quite a savvy appointment from the board to bring him through to the first team.
Much like Mansell, Byron Anthony is another former player linked with the role and is also currently employed by The Gas as an academy coach. Anthony has likewise played in a play-off final for Rovers at Wembley and could be looked at by many as another candidate to promote through the ranks to first team management in order to unite a divided fanbase.
However, both Mansell and Anthony lack experience in management and with relegation on the cards, Rovers have to get this appointment spot on so may go for experience over unity.
That being said, Rovers’ recent successful managers have all come from promoting within. The likes of Holloway, Trollope and Clarke all spent time at the club prior to being appointed as managers.
Pros: Unite any divide between fans and quell animosity towards the board.
Cons: Risk possibly not worth taking with relegation a real possibility.
Joey Barton – 6/1
Sticking with the bookies odds for a minute, one of the possible candidates for the role according to SkyBet is former Fleetwood manager and Premier League bad boy Joey Barton.
Barton boasts a League One play off semi-final to his managerial CV and is seen by many to give the side the bite that they need in games in order to survive the drop. However, the former Man City and Newcastle midfielder also has a court hearing for an assault charge against former Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel in June so any appointment should have this in mind.
Pros: Good managerial record in League One (albeit at one club)
Cons: Impending Court Appearance
Nigel Adkins – 16/1
Next up is my personal choice, former Scunthorpe, Southampton and most recently Hull City manager Nigel Adkins.
Adkins, linked with the Rovers job prior to both Ben Garner’s and Paul Tisdale’s appointment lives in Southampton and has previous experience in the club’s long-term goals, promotion to the Championship.
He also most recently guided Hull City away from relegation from the Championship in 2018.
Adkins has been out of a job since June 2019 and could be looking for a return to management. The question is though, with Adkins previous experience, he may have his sights set on loftier goals than a club that is 20th in League One.
Pros: Has League One promotions to his name and has previous experience in saving clubs from relegation
Cons: Could be seen as a big fish in a small pond looking for another pay check.
Keith Curle – 25/1
Another man linked with the role is a candidate sacked on the same day as Tisdale by relegation rivals Northampton and that is former Rovers (and City) defender Keith Curle.
Curle, a Bristolian himself, started his playing career with Rovers in the 1980’s, moving to Torquay and then Bristol City, Reading, Man City and Wolves amongst other clubs.
He then moved into management, enjoying success at League One with Notts County in 2012, finishing seventh before being sacked a season later. Curle went on to manage Carlisle in League Two but only managed a play-off place at best for the Cumbrians and left for Northampton. Curle then secured a Wembley win last season over Exeter but his side have struggled this season, winning six of the 26 games this campaign.
The issue with the Curle appointment would be the undenying fact that come May he could have potentially caused two relegations from League One in the same season.
Pros: Former Rovers player – knows the club and supporters. Plays a 3-5-2 which is what formation the current squad was built with in mind.
Cons: Very good at Northampton in League Two but sacked with them to 23rd in League One this season.
A couple of names also linked to the role are Tony Pulis (16/1) and Paul Cook (25/1). However, I do not believe that either see their next managerial roles any lower than the Championship and therefore I will not be going into any more depth.
If we did somehow bring either of them in, then it would almost definitely be only a short- term option (not by our choice) but I truly believe that either would keep us up.
The Outsiders to look out for:
James Rowberry (Cardiff City First Team Coach) – 11/1
Pros – A lot of praise at youth level from Cardiff
Cons – Risk of another Garner-esque appointment
Nathan Hallett-Young (Rovers Women’s First Team Coach) – 22/1
Pros – Has experience in managing a Rovers side
Cons – No previous male football management exposure
Chris Lines (Shouldn’t need to tell you who he is) – 25/1
Pros – Like Mansell and Anthony, is adored by fans and would provide unity.
Cons – Would have to retire from playing and no one wants that! It is also a gamble when safety is a priority.
All in all, as I have stated previously, this appointment is crucial. The board needs to properly evaluate any candidates and with the games coming thick and fast, they have to quickly appoint the right person to keep us in the third tier.
Whether the appointment is a short term fix or they take the job on into next season is also something the board have to weigh up. What is clear though, whoever it is that we do appoint, we as Gasheads will be giving them our full backing going into their first game in charge. UTG!