The League One managerial arena was suddenly shaken up on Wednesday afternoon as two managers left in rapid succession.
Firstly, we saw Bristol Rovers axe Paul Tisdale after just 19 games at the helm - you can read more about that one here - then Northampton quickly followed suit as they chose to part ways with promotion-winning boss Keith Curle.
Former Carlisle manager Curle was appointed at Northampton in October 2018. The Cobblers went on to finish the campaign 15th in League Two, before Curle orchestrated a promotion in his first full season; negotiating the club through the play-offs and up into League One courtesy of an emphatic 4-0 win over Exeter City.
It was surprisingly the first promotion of Curle’s 18-year managerial career, and it was an achievement he was hoping to build on in the 2020/21 season.
However, a return of six wins from 26 matches to date leaves them stuck in the relegation zone - on goal difference - which has forced the club to take action.
In a club statement, chairman Kelvin Thomas said:
"We have a huge amount of respect for Keith and Colin and we will always owe them a debt of gratitude for the promotion they achieved but we feel a change is now required.
"Our results, and in particular our lack of goals, have left us in a very difficult position in the league and we believe that this decision is in the best interests of the club as we battle to retain our League 1 status.
"Keith and Colin leave with our thanks and our best wishes and their time at the club will go down as a success, especially managing us through the difficult period of Covid 19."
Who could replace Keith Curle at Northampton?
As for Curle’s replacement, the betting is notoriously variable at this early stage in proceedings yet there are a few familiar names in the frame, including Northampton’s Under-18s coach Jon Brady who has been placed in caretaker charge following Curle’s exit.
"Jon has a wealth of experience both as a player and a manager, he also has a good knowledge of the club and our younger players and we are fortunate to be able to call on him," revealed the club’s Chairman.
"He will be assisted by Ian Sampson and Marc Richards. Both are rightly Northampton Town legends, they have a huge amount of experience in the game and a deep knowledge of and affection for the club and I am sure all supporters will join me in wishing Jon, Ian and Marc well."
Sol Campbell, no stranger to next manager markets this season, has emerged as one of the early frontrunners in the betting.
Campbell performed a minor miracle in leading Macclesfield to safety in his first job in management, which was followed by a difficult spell at troubled Southend; whose problems were well known.
The former England international is believed to be hungry for a third slice of management, and he’ll no doubt be confident he can lead the club clear of danger.
Northampton fans, who would you like to see replace Keith Curle on a permanent basis?— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) February 10, 2021
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Paul Tisdale, who we mentioned at the very start of the article, also features in the betting yet you get the feeling an appointment is remote given that he’s just left Bristol Rovers in a similar predicament to Northampton.
Joey Barton enjoyed a creditable start to his managerial career with Fleetwood - who he led into the play-offs last season - and with League One experience on his CV the young boss could be an attractive option for the club, however whether he’ll fancy returning to management at the bottom end of the division is questionable.
Stephen Robinson has been linked with various clubs since his surprise decision to leave Motherwell at the end of 2020.
During his tenure at the Scottish club, Robinson’s men featured in two cup finals - they lost to Celtic on both occasions - and they secured a 3rd place ‘best of the rest’ finish last season.
Robinson also previously managed Oldham for six months back during the 2016/17 season.
Meanwhile, other managers who are currently unattached at the moment include Phil Parkinson, Gary Caldwell, and Gary Holt, whereas former Northampton player Kevin Wilkin, who currently manages Brackley Town, could be a possible option.