Five candidates to replace Jack Lester at Chesterfield

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 24 April 2018, 08:37

With Chesterfield’s relegation to the National League effectively confirmed, they have had a backroom re-shuffle that sees boss Jack Lester step down.

The Spireites, who must contend with as many problems off the field as on it, begin the arduous process of hunting for a manager capable of leading a promotion push next season on what is likely to be a significantly reduced budget.

Who is up to the Chesterfield Job? The Sack Race investigates.

John Sheridan

Why he should get the job:

For a start, Sheridan led Chesterfield to the League Two title in 2010/11 and has since succeeded, short-term at least, at each of the clubs he’s been at apart from Notts County.

He worked with chairman Dave Allen for three years and there is a rumour - only a rumour we must stress - that Sheridan could be in arrears, so it is plausible that we might see some sort of deal that is mutually beneficial.

‘Shez’ has proven to be a good manager in the EFL, but for a National League club with a reduced budget, his appointment would be a coup.

Why he shouldn’t:

The fact the 53-year-old has never managed in non-league isn’t only an advantage. While the likes of John Askey and Danny Cowley had knowledge of the transfer market for the level long before overseeing their recent title-wins, Sheridan would need to pick things up quickly.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

We think Sheridan’s recent record makes him the best manager available for the Spireites.

Russell Slade

Why he should get the job:

Throughout Slade’s managerial career, he has always been a 4-4-2 disciple: no frills, an experienced spine and early balls to an industrious target man. That very philosophy is the accepted blueprint for promotion from the National League.

Lincoln City bullied their way to the top last season through the physical presence of Matt Rhead, while Barnet used the pace and power of John Akinde en route to the title a couple of years earlier; in Chris O’Grady, Chesterfield have high-pedigree striker who would fit in with that plan. It’s only two years ago too, that Slade was a well-respected, top half Championship manager.

Why he shouldn’t:

Since his stay at Cardiff however, Slade’s career has declined alarmingly. After an underwhelming five months at Charlton, he then made the mistake of favouring underperforming veterans over promising youth at Coventry, before leaving Grimsby entrenched in a relegation battle this term.

The off-field problems at those three clubs should excuse Slade partly, but not entirely, given that successors Karl Robinson, Mark Robins and Michael Jolley respectively all proved more popular with supporters.

There’s a possibility that Slade tries too hard to mediate frosty off-field relationships - like there are at Chesterfield - which sometimes leads fans to perceive him as a mouthpiece for the board.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Slade has a reasonable level of experience for the job, but he’d need to learn quickly from recent mistakes.

Ronnie Moore

Why he should get the job:

Having already managed 922 professional games, Moore has expressed a desire over the last 12 months to get back in the saddle and possibly reach the 1,000-club.

His most impressive achievement in recent years is undoubtedly keeping Hartlepool United in the league in 2014/15, even after they were 10 points adrift in January.

The Liverpudlian then went to Eastleigh, where he proved popular with fans before leaving for non-footballing reasons; the 65-year-old’s connections at former club Rotherham might also help Chesterfield’s efforts in the loan market.

Why he shouldn’t:

Moore perhaps made mistakes in the first half of Hartlepool’s 2015/16 campaign, when he brought too many players in mid-season without a coherent plan in place before ultimately leaving.

Furthermore, the tensions at Chesterfield means the next manager will be burdened by off-field matters; without being too ageist, this is hardly the ideal job for somebody relatively close to retirement.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

While Moore deserves great credit for the work he has done in the English game, we think Chesterfield might be better off looking elsewhere.

Neil Redfearn

Why he should get the job:

While at Leeds, Redfearn played a key role in the development of precocious young talents such as Sam Byram, Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt. Chesterfield’s budget cut means they might have to rely on youngsters; Josh Kay could develop nicely under Redfearn, as could academy graduate Ify Ofoegbu.

Having managed in the Championship with the Whites and Rotherham, the former Barnsley goalscorer would bring a decent level of experience

Why he shouldn’t:

Redfearn is already managing in the women’s game with Doncaster Rovers Belles and would need persuading to move. Although 17 years of coaching gives 'Redders' some experience, he has only twice managed a professional men’s team permanently and neither stint was especially successful; Rotherham would have gone down after his spell there were it not for Neil Warnock’s late intervention.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

Redfearn appears to favour less pressured roles; whether he’d embrace a challenge of this magnitude remains to be seen.

Craig Harrison

Why he should get the job:

In Harrison’s first season in charge of The New Saints, they were crowned the 2011/12 Welsh Premier League champions; a feat they would repeat for six seasons in succession.

In the final campaign, TNS broke Ajax's 44-year-old world record for the longest winning streak in top-flight football. Given that four different teams had won the competition in the four seasons that preceded Harrison’s arrival, the subsequent dominance seems impressive.

Why he shouldn’t:

After a strong start west of the border, Harrison found life harder at Hartlepool. While the Gateshead-born boss wanted consistency, he frustrated fans with a tendency to change a winning team, whilst perhaps lacking the charisma to handle the off-field strife.

Chesterfield’s circumstances dictate that they need a strong character in charge, so Harrison would need to learn quickly from his struggles in County Durham.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

A reasonable outside option, if Chesterfield’s primary targets don’t materialize.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Graham Westley
Graham Westley
(Stevenage)
16th February
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