5 contenders to replace Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at Northampton Town

by Gabriel Sutton / 03 April 2018, 19:11

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was dismissed as Northampton Town manager on Easter Monday, after a 2-0 defeat at Peterborough kept his side in the bottom four - and one of just two League One outfits averaging less than one point per game.

Dean Austin and Jon Brady are expected to take charge until the end of the season, which is likely to end in relegation - but who is the right man to start the re-building process?

Gabriel Sutton runs us through the main contenders in the Next Northampton Town Manager.

Steve Cotterill

Why he should get the job:

Steve Cotterill has won league titles as a manager with Cheltenham Town, Notts County and Bristol City in each of the three divisions below the Championship. He left those clubs in far better positions than the one he found them in - two divisions higher up, in Cheltenham’s case.

Later in his management career, the former striker showed tactical innovation to employ a 3-5-2 system at Ashton Gate, where he built one of the greatest third-tier teams of all-time in 2014-15. Few managers boast better records at this level.

Why he shouldn’t:

A lack of balance. It became clear early in Bristol City’s return to the Championship that the three-at-the-back system was leaving them exposed against better quality players; Cotterill’s persistence with it perhaps cost him his job. After taking the helm at Birmingham, his tactics ventured too far in the other direction: ball-winners like Maikel Kieftenbeld and Cheikh N’Doye played in attacking midfield roles despite lacking the necessary offensive quality.

Cotterill’s handling of fans and media during his ill-fated spell in B9 could also be questioned, meaning the 53-year-old - rightly or wrongly - must now work with a stigma attached to him.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Cotterill might benefit from another month or two away from the hot-seat, allowing him both time to reflect on his last job and a pre-season away from the microscope to feel his way into a new one. He could be a good appointment for June.

Uwe Rosler

Why he should get the job:

Chris Long is Northampton’s top scorer this season and he would attest to Uwe Rosler’s managerial strengths. The Burnley loanee played a part in the first half of Fleetwood Town’s 2016-17 play-off campaign under the German, posing a threat with nippy runs in behind. Rosler can get the best out of Long and he provides an impressive record, too: three of his last four managerial stints have led to a top six finish.

The former Brentford boss would inherit a squad capable of playing the possession-based tactics he favours, perhaps more so than Hasselbaink’s defensive approach. When performances start well, Rosler can be a hugely impressive tactician.

Why he shouldn’t:

The flip side is that when Rosler’s side start badly, his outlook can - if we’re being horribly brutal - resemble the endangered tea-drinking dog in the ‘this is fine’ memes. For example, in the second leg of Fleetwood’s play-off semi-final with Bradford, he knew all game that his side needed a goal having fallen behind in the first leg, but at no point was any urgency shown.

We’re not saying Rosler must scrap his philosophy altogether, but the way his tenures at Wigan and Fleetwood ended suggests his sides struggle to combine possession with penetration.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

This Northampton squad could work well with Rosler, and that is more likely to be at the start of a new season - be that in League One or Two - rather than in the heat of a dogfight.

Robbie Neilson

Why he should get the job:

Robbie Neilson enjoyed plenty of success with Heart of Midlothian, who he led from the Scottish Championship to 3rd in the SPL, progress that saw him shortlisted for the Manager of the Year award north of the border in 2014-15. The Scot retains the respect of most at MK Dons, where he has the best win % ratio of the three (four including caretakers) they have had since dropping into League One.

Why he shouldn’t:

Even if the Northampton board are happy to run the risk that Neilson’s MK connections might count against him politically, they should be aware that this could be a tactical mismatch. The 37-year-old favours direct football, but Northampton’s attacking players tend to be more effective when the ball is played on the deck.

Long and Kevin Van Veen lack the physical qualities to dominate centre-backs in aerial duels while the midfield consists largely of forward-thinkers such as Matt namesakes Grimes and Crooks, but effective ball-winners are hard to locate.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Neilson could be a good manager elsewhere, but we’re not convinced Northampton would be the right fit.

Steve McClaren

Why he should get the job:

Steve McClaren would bring a wealth of experience to Sixfields. He had an influence on Manchester United’s ’99 treble win as an assistant, he led Middlesbrough to some memorable UEFA Cup runs, guided FC Twente to a historic title win and turned Derby from a youthful midtable side to one that was denied promotion only by a play-off final mugging. It shouldn’t be forgotten that he has achieved some good things in the game.

Why he shouldn’t:

Perhaps one factor behind Derby’s nosedive in form, during the final two months of their 2014-15 campaign, was McClaren’s disruptive courting of the Newcastle job. He got that the following summer, before presiding over a relegation season on Tyneside, where he perhaps lacked the bravery to endear himself to locals.

Because the York-born boss has a history of getting - and failing in - high-profile jobs, it is possible that he will take a lower league management job with a more self-interested perspective than most. That might not necessarily be conducive to a healthy rapport with fans, which more successful managers at this level tend to have.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Only a daringly large budget would convince McClaren to move and we reckon Northampton should look elsewhere.

Graham Alexander

Why he should get the job:

In two of Graham Alexander’s three full seasons in senior management, his side have reached the play-offs, which in Fleetwood Town’s case ended successfully in 2013-14. The Cod Army subsequently concluded their first ever third tier campaign in 10th place, just six points shy of the top six.

The former full-back later guided Scunthorpe United, a midtable side, to promotion contention for three consecutive terms, achieving a play-off finish in his only full-season in charge. Alexander consistently ensures that expensive squads have the range of qualities required to fulfil potential.

Why he shouldn’t:

Alexander’s record would be hugely impressive if it was attained with low or middling budgets, but Fleetwood and Scunthorpe had spent enough to expect those results. The latter stages of his tenure at Glanford Park might ring alarm bells too: The Iron won one of his last 13 in charge with very poor performances.

Alexander fielded players like Neal Bishop and Murray Wallace out of position despite the availability of more natural alternatives, an error that might seem familiar to Northampton fans.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

If he can learn quickly from the way his time at Scunthorpe ended, we think he could be suited to the job.

sackrace

Managers Departed

Last man down

Mick McCarthy
(Ipswich Town)
10th April
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