There are all different types of jobs in football management. From the big clubs to the small ones with varying expectations and resources. But one thing is for sure. In the age of ‘we want it now’, where everyone demands some kind of success, and failure to deliver is not an option, there are no management positions without pressure. In the football league, promotion and relegation drives this. Here I take a look at my top five football league managers of the moment.
Chris Hughton (Newcastle United)
I feel the job Hughton has done so far in the North East has been underestimated. He knows that if he doesn’t take the Toon up this season there will be huge recriminations but so far he has dealt with that pressure admirably. The next couple of weeks will really test the Londoner and his playing staff after their shock defeat to Derby on Tuesday night. Up until then the season had been going almost too swimmingly.
Paulo Sousa (Swansea City)
The stylish Portuguese man had an illustrious playing career and made 51 appearances for his country. After being sacked by QPR he stepped into the rather large shoes left by Roberto Martinez at Swansea City. He has gone beyond expectations so far, with the Welsh side hardly noticing the departures of Jason Scotland and Jordi Gomez. He plays a defensive style of passing football and has only lost five games this season in the league and, in doing so, turned the Swans into dark horses for promotion.
Mark Robins (Barnsley)
The former Manchester United striker played a vital part in winning Sir Alex Ferguson’s first piece of silverware at Old Trafford, scoring two goals in an FA Cup run in 1990. As a manager he had two good seasons with Rotherham before he was appointed at Barnsley last September with the Yorkshire club sitting at the bottom of the Championship table and looking certainties for relegation. Since then the Tykes have gone on a brilliant run and are currently pushing for an unlikely playoff place.
Paul Lambert (Norwich City)
After a disastrous start to the season in which Norwich lost 7-1 at home to Colchester the then Canaries’ boss Bryan Gunn was dismissed and, in a strange twist, Paul Lambert – the man who a week earlier had been in charge of the U’s dishing out the embarrassing thrashing to the Norfolk club – was put in charge. Since the Scot’s appointment the Carrow Road outfit haven’t looked back and they now top the League One table, after displacing Leeds United a couple of weeks ago.
Keith Hill (Rochdale)
I just couldn’t leave the former Blackburn defender out. He took over Rochdale in 2006 and has been allowed to build his side without interference. He now stands on the verge of being the first man in 36 years to take Rochdale out of English football’s basement level, since they were relegated to the fourth tier in 1974. A whole generation of Dale fans who have watched their side stagnate in the same division will be willing him on to do just that. They are currently 11 points clear of fourth place and I personally hope they can put an end to one of football’s longest unwanted runs.
Other notable mentions go to the likes of Nigel Pearson, Darren Ferguson and Alan Irvine, but I couldn’t pick them all. Please feel free to lambast me for not including one of your picks….