You need luck to survive in the sack race

WELL, the sacking season is well and truly upon us now. After David Weir at Sheffield United, this week has seen my old assistant Kevin Blackwell sacked by Bury and Martin Allen lose his job at Gillingham.

As a former manager of Bury, I have to say I haven’t got many happy memories of my time there.

Before I went, in 1998, they’d had my good friend Stan Ternent, who’d won two successive promotions. I didn’t stand a chance of following that because Bury were never a big enough club to sustain Championship football. We went down on goal difference and I left after 18 months.

So I can sympathise with Kevin. The budget isn’t the best. The facilities leave a lot to be desired.

It’s a hard job and in the summer, it was touch and go whether they’d even have a team with all the financial problems.


I remember talking to Kevin in July and he’d managed to arrange only two pre-season games, both really late on.

Why? He didn’t have enough players. He was sitting there, waiting to see if the takeover would come off. They hadn’t even got enough for a 5-a-side!

Really, you are asking for trouble without a good pre-season.

Even so, speaking to Ronnie Jepson, who’s in temporary charge, they have played very well at times. But the opportunities they’ve created haven’t been taken.

It just shows how much a manager relies on a goal-scorer who can put those chances away. And luck, of course.

If you want to know about luck, you just need to look at Tuesday night. England’s great victory against Poland would have been very different if Robert Lewandowski had put that fantastic early chance away.

He didn’t, England won, and the Polish manager lost his job. If Lewandowski had scored, maybe Poland would have won and Roy could have lost his.

That’s the fine line every manager treads. No matter what your quality of players, no matter how much money you have, you still need that decision to go for you or that shot to hit the bar and go over.


Kevin didn’t get much luck and when you’ve got new owners and things aren’t going well, you’re in trouble.

Owners these days are managers in disguise. I bet they all sit at home playing Football Manager on the computer and thinking ‘Anybody can do this’. And believe you me, all new owners like the thought of interviewing their own man.
Now they’ve got their chance and it’ll be very interesting to see which direction they go in.

As for Gillingham, I don’t think Martin will have been surprised. Not when he’s been in the game as long as he has.

I do like the Gills’ chairman Paul Scally. He’s a man I’ve got a lot of time for. But quite honestly, it’s difficult to imagine where he thinks Gillingham should be really.

It doesn’t matter who’s in charge, they will need absolutely everything going for them if they genuinely want to compete at the top end of that division.


I WAS in London yesterday and I was desperate to take in a game. But I wasn’t brave enough to go and see my old club QPR play at Millwall!

The Den is renowned for its hostile atmosphere
The Den is renowned for its hostile atmosphere

The only time I dared set foot in Millwall was when I stepped off the team bus – and even that was terrifying.

I must admit, it’s one of the most hostile grounds to arrive at for a manager, but also one of the funniest.

I’ve had all sorts given to me as I got of the bus, but the best one was a child’s dummy. Somebody handed it to me and said ‘That’s to stop you whingeing’ – or words to that effect!

But I always took it well and signed all the autographs because it’s a really good club with passionate


WHEN I watched Andros Townsend last year, I always felt QPR were going to do something. I didn’t know whether he would sustain it this year, but once he did I was pleading for Roy Hodgson to pick him against Montenegro.

I just didn’t see anybody else who could run at people, excite the crowd and get crosses in. I’m glad to see he more than justified his selection.

His success is great for the Championship. Because any young kid in the Premier League can look at the way he learnt his trade at places like Ipswich and Watford and think ‘If I go on loan, I will get noticed’.

Mind you, he’s still in my bad books. When I had him on loan at Leeds, I said ‘I’ll build a team around you’. Twenty-four hours later, he’d packed his bags and said he was homesick. Three days later, he signed for Birmingham! Still, I suppose it was a bit closer to London.


NOTHING surprises me about Portsmouth fans anymore. I always think they’ll lose the faith at some point, but they never do.

Portsmouth's Patrick Agyemang against Plymouth
Portsmouth’s Patrick Agyemang against Plymouth

I was at Home Park last weekend to watch them play my local club Plymouth and they brought about 1,500 people down. They packed out the whole end and they sang non-stop for the 90 minutes. And they brought that bloody drum.
It was a cracking game between two big clubs who shouldn’t be mid-table League Two.

They say success comes in cycles and I hope both Plymouth and Portsmouth are on the upward cycle because they’re both great clubs.

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