5 names in contention for the Exeter City job

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 01 June 2018, 15:43

Normally, when a manager leaves a club after 12 years of service, they depart with legendary status.

In Paul Tisdale’s case, he perhaps has a more complex relationship with Exeter City fans: some are grateful for his hard work and dedication over such a long period and, considering some of the results the club have achieved, it is difficult to argue with that viewpoint.

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There is another section of fans though who feel slightly put off by aspects of his media-handling, which sometimes borders on irritable and his money-orientated way of managing the club.

Although in some ways Exeter are now in transition, with Tisdale and director of football Steve Perryman stepping down, the change of manager isn’t exclusively a bad thing for the club.

Here, we assess the top five contenders to fill the void.

John Sheridan

Why he should get the job:

His record.

After twice taking Oldham from being certs for relegation to safe in midtable, he did the same thing at Fleetwood. In 13 games under Sheridan, the Cod Army accrued an impressive 21 points, having taken just nine from the previous 13.

‘Shez’s sides are notoriously well-drilled and an Exeter defence that shipped 54 goals - the joint-second most in the top ten - could benefit from some extra organization.

Why he shouldn’t:

Even if we assume that fans would be comfortable with Sheridan's two-and-a-half-year association with Devon rivals Plymouth Argyle, his methods represent the antithesis of those of Paul Tisdale.

For example, centre-back Jordan Moore-Taylor has proved capable of pinging accurate passes into forward areas but if Shez were to take over, it is not hard to imagine that he’d be asked to hoof it into row Z. A safety-first mentality wouldn’t get the best out of midfield technicians like Ryan Harley and Jake Taylor.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Maybe the right man to save Exeter if they are struggling in January, but not the right man to continue Tisdale’s legacy.

Mark Warburton

Why he should get the job:

He’d keep it on the deck. Although Exeter have generally been a possession outfit, last season they tended to knock long balls to target man Jayden Stockley, at times earlier than necessary.

Warburton would encourage his players to be brave on the ball and make bold runs off it, which the team didn’t do to the best of their ability in the play-off final. Plus, the ex-Brentford boss loves to develop young players with a high sell-on value, which has been a big part of the club’s ethos.

Why he shouldn’t:

Would he go? After achieving unprecedented success at Brentford, guiding them into the play-offs in 2014-15, he at least met expectations at Rangers and Nottingham Forest, even if he is not uniformly revered at the latter two clubs. Warburton has the ability to manage in the upper-echelons of the EFL, so it could be questioned whether Exeter would have the pulling power.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

It would be a brilliant appointment if chairman Julian Tagg could sell the project to Warburton. While there’s an outside possibility that he would warm to the idea of having more control at a League Two club than he would higher up the pyramid, we’re just not sure it’ll happen.

Grant McCann

Why he should get the job:

Peterborough United fans were very much divided on whether Darragh MacAnthony’s decision to dismiss McCann last season was the right one.

McCann appears a very calm and collected character in the media, qualities not dissimilar to Tisdale and the Northern Irishman also has overlapping belief in possession play.

The 38-year-old’s reputation as a manager has improved since his first managerial tenure, from which he will have learnt plenty. There’s lots of young talent at the ABAX - players like Leo Da Silva Lopes and Lewis Freestone - who Steve Evans might not see as part of his plans but could develop superbly under McCann in League Two.

Why he shouldn’t:

The small age gap. McCann is only five years older than Harley, five older than Robbie Simpson and three older than Craig Woodman; there’s a slight possibility that one or two players in the squad might have difficulties taking orders from somebody they would have seen as an equal for much of their career.

The Sack Race’s Verdict

We reckon McCann would be an excellent appointment for Exeter and, crucially, he could realistically be lured to the club.

Keith Curle

Why he should get the job:

Stability. Exeter don’t like changing their manager and Curle has spent nearly four years, a long time in the current climate, at Carlisle United. When he took over, the Cumbrians had experienced a dramatic decline to the bottom of League Two, but a period of steady growth transpired: from survival, to a feint top seven challenge, to a play-off finish in 2016-17.

Curle is a stickler for detail, evidenced by the success his sides have at set pieces and his firm man management methods might help Exeter handle the big stage better than they have in their last two Wembley finals.

Why he shouldn’t:

Carlisle developed an overreliance on crosses and dead ball scenarios under Curle; while Exeter shouldn’t be shy to use Stockley’s qualities when chance presents itself, they should find other ways of opening up defences. Curle tends to favour experienced holding midfielders and defensive full-backs, methods which aren’t conducive to developing talented, young players and by extension, saleable assets.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

We reckon the Grecians should look elsewhere.

Matt Oakley

Why he should get the job:

Oakley has experience of playing in the Premier League and the Championship and therefore has an understanding of how training methods and general preparation can be improved to reach a higher standards.

Equally though, he’s been at Exeter long enough to be a popular figure at the club, have a knowledge of the squad and the areas to improve. After two play-off finishes have been achieved on a relatively modest budget, Exeter arguably need a degree of continuity and Oakley represents a cost-effective way of providing that.

Why he shouldn’t:

Although Oakley will be aware of the challenges the Exeter manager faces, he hasn’t been directly exposed to public criticism in the same way that Paul Tisdale has; it remains to be seen how he would handle the political aspects of his job.

A section of fans might suggest his appointment implies a lack of ambition from the club, so he would be in unchartered territory if results started badly.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Oakley would be a decent back-up option, but McCann should be Exeter’s primary target.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Graham Westley
Graham Westley
(Stevenage)
16th February
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