Sheffield United have got it right with Nigel

I’M really pleased Nigel Clough’s got back into management so quickly with Sheffield United.

He had a messy departure from Derby, and he would have been very bitter about his treatment. And I know from experience that if you aren’t careful, that bitterness can consume you.

Now, he hasn’t got time to dwell on what happened. He can put Derby out of his mind and get on with the job in hand – which is taking United up the leagues.

He’ll enjoy it. He’s taken his trusted friends Gary Crosby and Andy Garner with him, and he’s got Chris Morgan for a bit of inside information.

Chris is United through and through, and I’m pleased that he’s stayed on board. He was one of my best signings for United, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told young players ‘If you’ve got an attitude like Chris Morgan, you won’t go far wrong in this game’.

They need a few more like him right now, but I think Nigel will do OK. Without a shadow of a doubt, it didn’t work under David Weir. On paper, it was fine. In practice, it didn’t translate.

It’s been a bruising experience, but he’ll have learned a hundred times more in those three months than he would have in a lifetime coaching the reserves at Everton. He’ll be better for it.

By contrast, Nigel has managed above this level and below it. He knows what’s needed.


THE demise of Tony Mowbray at Middlesbrough shows just how fast your fortunes can change in this game.

This time last season they were flying. They’d had a fabulous start and had so many high hopes at Christmas. They were looking at the play-offs, maybe even better.

Since then? It’s been a disaster. No matter what Tony’s tried, with personnel or systems, it just hasn’t come off.

It’s always disappointing to see somebody lose their job, but when Steve Gibson is pulling the trigger, you probably have to admit your time is up. He’s one of the best chairmen around for backing his manager.

Tony will regroup. All managers learn from the jobs they have, and never more so than when they go wrong.

He’s always had his way of playing, and I don’t think he’ll compromise that wherever he goes next.

He showed at West Brom how good he can be, that you can play your way out of the Championship.

But at Middlesbrough, it just didn’t work.  That’s no failing of Tony’s. It’s just the beauty of the Championship.

There are so many different styles of play – sometimes they’ll work, sometimes they won’t. It has you tearing your hair out as a manager, but it makes it wonderfully unpredictable.

As for who comes next, there’ll be no shortage of applicants. Yes, it’s a hard job, but it’s a good one. Middlebrough is a great club.

I desperately wanted that job in 2006, after Steve McClaren left to manage England. I remember putting the feelers out and I was quite hopeful, but in the end they went internal and promoted Gareth Southgate.

The reason I fancied it is simple. One was the fantastic facilities. The other was that you’re only as good as your chairman.

And when I looked around back then, I couldn’t see anybody better than Steve. I’d have loved to team up with him, but sadly it wasn’t to be.

On a side note, I think the Under-21 job is the best thing that could’ve happened to Gareth.

The Championship was a bit unforgiving for him, a bit too dog eat dog. But with his ability to bring young players on and his tactical understanding of the game, the England set-up is made to measure for him.

Now Steve has to find someone who fits Boro just as well. For my money, it’s still a cracking job for someone.


I was watching the results on the television last week, when I saw Northampton were beating Rochdale 2-1 in the 90th minute.

I thought ‘What a great result for Aidy’. Then it comes up 2-2 and you think ‘What a great point for Rochdale’. Then a few seconds later it’s 3-2 to Dale and you say to yourself ‘This is going to be Rochdale’s season’.

Sometimes a club just fits with a manager, and it definitely seems to be that way with Rochdale and Keith Hill.

He looks comfortable to me. He knows everybody, the fans trust him, he can play the way he wants.  When you’re happy and relaxed, you give your best as a manager. It rubs off on the players.

I’ve got a lot of time for Keith. He isn’t a fussy person. He’ll not make a song and dance about all the little things that are wrong. He just gets on with it.

And I thought he was very unlucky at Barnsley. Another few weeks and he’d have cracked it there. But he didn’t let that experience get him down.

And he wasn’t too proud to return to Rochdale. He could have said ‘I’m better than this now’, but he isn’t like that at all. He’s a great example to any manager who’s lost their job.


GREAT to see James Beattie get his first win at Accrington. I’ve met James at a few Conference games this season and I’ve got to know how conscientious and dedicated he is.

It’s been a long time coming but he’ll be so relieved to get that monkey off his back – and I hope I don’t get reported for saying that!

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