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Monday, October 3, 2011
McClaren's fall and Barmby's army

Will Tidey

Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.

McClaren falls on his sword

There's only one place to start to this week - with the resignation of Nottingham Forest manager Steve McClaren. The former England coach announced his decision on Sunday evening, after a 3-1 loss to Birmingham at the City Ground left Forest fourth from bottom in the Championship, and with just eight points from their opening 10 games this season. McClaren's 111-day reign at Forest fell spectacularly short of the expectancy that met his appointment, and was blighted by bitter dispute over transfer policy at the club. Ultimately he decided the situation was untenable, and had apparently already made up his mind before the Birmingham game. Forest fans, on the whole, are not unhappy to see him go. But, judging by the comments on fan forums and the club's Facebook page, they are at least grateful for the part he played in forcing chairman Nigel Doughty to step down. Doughty has accepted responsibility for the club's dismal start to the season, and will leave his post at the end of the current campaign, although he will continue his responsibilities as owner. It seems breaking point in the strained relationship between McClaren and Doughty was the chairman's refusal to fund loan moves for two Premier League players. McClaren called for "drastic" action after his team were thumped 5-1 by Burnley but, having been frustrated during the summer transfer window, he was once again defied in his call for cash. Unsurprisingly, out-of-work Forest legend Martin O'Neill has been installed as an early frontrunner to take his job and would be a hugely popular choice among the fans. Former players Stuart Pearce, Roy Keane and Nigel Clough could also be in the running - along with Alan Curbishley and current first-team coach Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Given Forest's current predicament, however, combined with the apparent lack of financial support afforded to McClaren, and you'd imagine candidates will need some serious convincing it's a job worth taking. The fact McClaren walked away without demanding compensation should at least afford them a decent salary.

Barmby army

Nick Barmby is the Championship equivalent of Ryan Giggs. The 37-year-old midfielder is old enough to have fathered a good number of his opponents these days, but he's still producing the goods on a weekly basis for Hull City. On Saturday, it was Barmby who popped up with the winner against Cardiff to move Hull into the play-off places, prompting manager Nigel Pearson to pay tribute. "Nick has always had a very positive impact for us," he said. "He brings quality to the team." If Hull get promoted we could yet see a midfield battle between Barmby and Giggs in the Premier League next season, roughly 20 years after the pair first squared up in the colours of Tottenham and Manchester United.

Seagulls down to earth

Brighton's heady start to the season has been sobered somewhat by consecutive Championship defeats to Crystal Palace and Ipswich. Gus Poyet's men lost 3-1 at home to bitter rivals Palace in midweek, and by the same scoreline to Ipswich at Portman Road on Saturday. The two bright spots for Seagulls fans have been Poyet's signing of a new five-year deal and a first goal for former Valencia winger Vincente.

Roberts in trouble

This week's "telling it like it is" award goes to Port Vale manager Micky Adams, for his handling of disciplinary matters pertaining to midfielder Gary Roberts. Roberts failed to show up for training on Sunday, September 18 - the day after Vale had lost 3-2 at home to Shrewsbury - or inform the club of his non-attendance. Then on the Monday he turned up in a condition deemed "unfit to carry out his duties as a professional footballer" by Adams. He was suspended for two weeks and has subsequently been placed on the transfer list. Having started the season in fine form, scoring five times in nine games, it seems the 24-year-old has some serious work to do to win back the trust of those around him. "If somebody treats their profession, his manager, team and supporters with the contempt he did, he's got a lot to do to get back anywhere near the side," Adams said. Roberts has a catalogue of disciplinary and the contract with Vale was seen as a last chance to save his career. He was twice suspended for missing training with Crewe in 2008 and again the following month for a "training ground incident". He again failed to show up in the summer and was transferred to Yeovil. After just one season his contract was cancelled at Yeovil due to a breach of cluib discipline and he then spent 26 days in the Sporting Chance clinic. Rotherham gave him another opportunity in November 2009 but again his contract was ripped up in April 2010 after continuous breaches of discipline. Roberts joined Vale in the summer of 2010, signed by Micky Adams in his first spell at boss, though the player had a poor relationship with Jim Gannon when he replaced Adams for most of the 2010-11 season. Adams, after returning from Sheffield United, gave the player a new 12-month contract but his behaviour has let him down once more. Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini may well be taking notes in his dealings with Carlos Tevez.

Roll up for the Gillingham circus

Gillingham manager Andy Hessenthaler also deserves a mention, having emerged hot and bothered after watching his side beaten 3-1 at home by AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, in League Two. "It was like a circus, and these players are better that. It's hard at any ground to come back from 3-0 down," Hessenthaler said. "We weren't good enough for the whole 90 minutes. Forget about the second half, we lost the game in the first half. "It's not acceptable and I apologise to the fans. We can't come to places and defend the way we defended as a group. You've got to come away from home and be solid early on in the game but we weren't that today."

King of the Hill

There was better news for Barnsley manager Keith Hill, who achieved his first competitive home win with his club at the sixth attempt - beating Championship strugglers Coventry 2-0 at Oakwell. "I hope people will stop asking me about getting the first win now. I knew that it would eventually come," Hill said. "I was really pleased with the performance, 100%."


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