Five contenders for the Cambridge United job

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 12 February 2018, 08:38

Cambridge United are on the hunt for a new manager following the departure of Shaun Derry who was sent packing on Friday just minutes after the club's goalless draw with Lincoln.

Below we look at five contenders in the Next Cambridge Manager Market.

Joe Dunne

Why he should get the job:

Cambridge's interim boss has been assistant manager since 2015 and will have a better idea than any other candidate of the strengths and weaknesses of the squad.

He has already managed at League One level with Colchester, where the Irishman made Jabo Ibehre one of his first signings; the powerful striker is hoping to recover from concussion this week.

While Joe Dunne likes to coach young players, he should also theoretically have a good relationship with the squad’s two most experienced campaigners: ball-winner Gary Deegan is a fellow-Dubliner, while stopper David Forde is also from the emerald isle.

Why he shouldn’t:

Dunne’s experience as assistant arguably counts against him: he was present throughout Shaun Derry’s relatively underwhelming 27-month stint and was also second in command when Richard Money was dismissed.

His experience as a number one with tertiary rivals Colchester was hardly more inspiring and it’s hard to see him having a particularly extensive contacts book. If you want change, why vote for the same thing?

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

The Cambridge board might be open to Dunne, but we reckon they should look elsewhere.

Robbie Neilson

Why he should get the job:

Robbie Neilson achieved some great things with Hearts, who he took from the Scottish Championship to 3rd in the SPL, success that saw him shortlisted for the Manager of the Year award across the border in 14/15.

He favours direct football, which could suit the physical qualities of Barry Corr and Uche Ikpeazu. A good man who retains the respect of a few people at MK Dons, where his initial impact shouldn’t be disregarded.

Why he shouldn’t:

MK Dons shouldn't have been in a relegation battle under Neilson with the squad available. Fans weren’t overly keen on his tendency to field one or two players out of position nor his long ball approach, which might not suit weedier but technically gifted players such as Billy Waters and Jevani Brown.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

If he can learn from a few lessons from his time in Buckinghamshire, this could be a decent appointment.

Phil Brown

Why he should get the job:

The man took Southend United from being a mid-table League Two club with financial limitations, to one with half an eye on the League One play-offs in the space of five years.

Corr was top scorer in his promotion winning Shrimpers side, while Deegan normally started around half of the games he managed – we could expect Brown to get the best out of both. The Geordie would bring a wealth of experience, an extensive contact list and League Two promotion knowhow.

Why he shouldn’t:

Although Phil Brown experienced success at Southend, he wasn’t always uniformly loved by supporters: at some stages the football was poor, he courted the Bolton job on national television and sometimes was a tad disrespectful to officials. If he were to be appointed, he could bring a little bit of baggage with him…

The Sack Race’s Verdict

…but then you could say the same about Steve Evans and Neil Warnock – how many promotions have they won? Just go and get the man, Cambridge.

Gary Caldwell

Why he should get the job:

It’s not every day that a bottom half League Two club could appoint a manager who was not only plying his trade in the Championship last season, but also led his side to a League One title win the year before. Wigan Athletic fans are largely complimentary of Gary Caldwell, who got the boot in West Lancashire just when results and performances had been picking up.

Why he shouldn’t:

Chesterfield fans, who saw their club first relegated under the Scot then drop into the League Two drop zone, take a different view. They weren't happy with the aimless football and inconsistent tactics they saw, which arguably contributed to the Spireites' decline.

The Sack Race’s Verdict

The off-field turmoil at Chesterfield should be factored in, but so should Wigan’s financial dominance in the third tier; as such, appointing Caldwell would be a 50/50 gamble for the club.

Stuart McCall

Why he should get the job:

He led Bradford City to the play-off final last season and left them this year still in the top six. Billy Clarke’s photo of Stuart McCall and senior Bantams players having one last evening together underlines the respect the Scot had from everyone at the club.

Considering that the board had been unable to match the financial demands of key, experienced performers in the summer – instead seeking to bring in unproven, younger players – McCall’s time at Bradford was far from a failure. He would be a terrific appointment for a mid-table League Two club.

Why he shouldn’t:

McCall will have lots of interest from upward-looking League One clubs and therefore may not be tempted to join a mid-table League Two club with off-field complications to deal with.

Furthermore, the most southerly place he’s ever worked in is Liverpool, when he had a stint as a player at Everton between ’88 and ’91. It would be surprising if he felt a move to Cambridge would suit him, both on a personal level and in terms of his career as a manager.

The Sack Race’s Verdict

It would be a terrific appointment, but we don’t see it happening.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Graham Westley
Graham Westley
(Stevenage)
16th February
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