Early on in the season it was Eastleigh replacing Chris Todd. Shortly after struggling Southport pulled the trigger on Andy Bishop and today high flying Tranmere have decided four games without a win is justification for sacking Gary Brabin. It’s a tough life as a football manager.
Whilst the first ripples of discontent appeared for Lincoln after the 2-1 defeat by Barrow there will be no calls for the manager heads and to be barely into September and already have lost three managers is a testament to how tough this league really is.
Tranmere have fallen into a rut but I was incredibly surprised to hear the news Brabin had been dismissed. They may have lost the scoring touch but they’re still in the play off hunt and have had some tough games recently. We were on a great run of form when we beat them, Sutton are a well organised and a tough unit to break down and Aldershot have shown they are no push-overs.
Danny Cowley says in this league anyone can beat anyone, and he is right. So is sacking a man after losing a couple of inevitable games really the way to go about success? We’ve been the victim of instability brought on by too many managers over the past six or seven years and in truth sticking with Peter Jackson might have at least kept us in the football league.
To replace a manager who won his first five games is both reactionary and incredibly short sighted from Tranmere. I can understand Andy Bishop at Southport as when they came to the Bank they looked devoid of ideas, but I was similarly bemused when Eastleigh pulled the trigger so early. With ambition comes expectation and that can weigh heavily on the mind of a club chairman.
So far not a single football league manager has lost his job this season. Exeter and Cambridge who occupy the two bottom spots in our division haven’t sacked their managers yet, although I hear Paul Tisdale may be close at Exeter. Why is our league so dangerous to ply your trade as a gaffer?
I think the pressure is ramped up in our league due to how tough it is to get out of. If you’re poor a fourth from bottom finish will see you relegated which isn’t the case in League Two. However if you finish second or third you have to battle through the play-off system to have a chance, whereas in the two leagues above us that means automatic promotion.
If the same systems were employed in all the leagues then Keith Alexander would not have got us into a single play-off encounter, and John Schofield would only just have scraped in. Would Keith have survived four years of so-called under achieving like that?
I don’t like Gary Brabin and I never have. As a player for us briefly and for Luton I thought he was a thug and a hatchet man. I do feel he is a victim of the league structure though rather than his clubs performances. With so much to lose and so little chance to win is the National League the most cut-throat and competitive league in Europe? Where else can four teams get automatically relegated but just one automatically promoted?
The quality of the football is on a par with League Two and arguably there is more competition as smaller sides like Eastleigh and Dover get some cash to compete with the bigger clubs. We are in a league full of clubs who believe they’re too big to be there, clubs who have history and rich clubs who want to start creating history. Barrow and Gateshead may be non-league teams to fans of my age, but to my Dad’s era they are league clubs still looking to get back.
Next year we’ll get to add ambitious AFC Fylde to the mix and similarly ambitious Salford City will be in the mix too. Both will have some momentum behind them and both will expect a level of success. Couple that with two more league clubs expecting to go straight back up. The fight for those precious top five spaces is relentless.
Unfortunately I see no end to the merry-go-round in the near future. If big spending Barrow drop below 10th it wouldn’t take long for Paul Cox to be searching for alternative employment. For every appointment like Danny Cowley at Braintree which works there is a Gary Brabin at Tranmere or a Chris Todd at Eastleigh.
It is imperative as Lincoln fans that we stick by our management team through thick and thin. The good feeling built up around the club cannot slip in the wake of a poor run of form. The name of the game now is consistency and progression. We have made massive strides as a club since Gary Simpson left and the sight of him huffing and puffing on the side lines with Cox yesterday made me acutely aware of how far we have come.
We are Lincoln City and we need to show more class and culture than the likes of Tranmere when it comes to sticking by our managers. In the Cowleys we trust. At least I do.