10 Bold Managerial Predictions For 2020: From the return of Marco Silva and Tony Pulis to Alex Neil's next job

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 30 December 2019, 08:51

New Year begins on Wednesday – so what can we expect from 2020?

From returning heroes to up-and-coming managers, our man Gabriel Sutton prophesizes 10 managerial movements that could occur over the course of the next year...

Alex Neil will get the Scotland job

Alex Neil has done an excellent job at Preston North End, who proudly sit seventh in the Championship at the end of 2019.

The 38-year-old has built a team that plays with tenacity, pace and counter-attacks with incision; in short, all the qualities that Scotland should attempt to embody to become more competitive on the international stage.

It seems little secret that Neil may have been interested in the West Brom job back in April and Scotland would be an exciting project close to his heart.

Cowley brothers will make Huddersfield competitive

Huddersfield’s first 19 games under Danny and Nicky Cowley’s tutelage have led to seven wins, six draws and six defeats.

That is top-10 form and very impressive, considering the Terriers lost five of their six league games before the brothers arrived, drawing the other.

There is a professionalism, a thoroughness about the way they work and already, they have found a reasonable formula for results with a bigger role for Steve Mounie next to Karlan Grant up top.

The Cowleys have managed in nine of the top 10 divisions in English football – if they keep improving Town at the current rate, then maybe that last remaining division might not be quite so far away.

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Could Marco Silva bag his fourth job in English football?

Marco Silva to lead Aston Villa in the Championship

In 2017, Marco Silva had done enough across a five-month stint at Hull to earn a Premier League job, rather than stay on Humberside for life in the Championship.

The Portuguese tactician started well at Watford in 2017-18, but his tenure ended sourly due to his alleged conduct amid interest from Everton; since getting his move to Goodison Park, Silva has underperformed with a big budget.

For that reason, the former Olympiakos boss may no longer be able to snub an opportunity to manage at a big club in the second-tier, where Aston Villa may reside next season.

If they do come down, Villa need a manager to give fans believe that they can make progress in the Premier League and at least try to push the boundary, because just being there does not satisfy natives.

Silva is a progressive coach with innovative tactical ideas and could fit the bill.

Russ Martin could go on to manage Norwich

Daniel Farke’s incredible work at Norwich City last season will never be forgotten – and he has done enough to earn loyalty in Norfolk for now, even with the Canaries bottom of the Premier League.

Still, many fans felt the club had been guilty of being too loyal to Alex Neil, to whom they stayed loyal eight months into the 2016-17 season, after he took them down.

If Norwich finish bottom of the top flight this year, then results and performances do not start well the following campaign, the board may look to a club legend to lift the mood.

Russ Martin has made an instant impression at MK Dons, who have taken eight points from his first seven games in charge, accompanied by improved performances, to boost their chances of staying in League One.

Martin is an effervescent character, a true leader and somebody who can unite a whole club – so Norwich may be tempted to bring him back to Carrow Road, along with a tactical mastermind in Luke Williams.

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Tony Pulis has been out of work since leaving Middlesbrough in the summer

Tony Pulis to return

Tony Pulis is not everyone’s cup of tea, but there is a consistency to his history as a manager.

Even when the wily Welshman has not been uniformly liked at a club, he has been proven to have fared better than his successor – this has been the case at Stoke, Crystal Palace, West Brom and arguably Middlesbrough.

The 61-year-old is a master at recognizing the opposition’s strengths, then developing an off-the-ball system to combat them whilst looking for opportunities to steal the ball in positive areas.

Charlton would likely be interested if Lee Bowyer is tempted away, as could Luton or Wigan.

John McGreal will return to Ipswich

John McGreal is a legend at Ipswich.

After signing from Tranmere in 1999, the centre-back 123 games for the Tractor Boys in a five-year period, which saw him contribute hugely to the George Burley side that played in the UEFA Cup.

Paul Lambert is reportedly set to be staying at the club into the New Year but there remains uncertainty over his long-term future.

McGreal, who has got Colchester United playing good football and competing for promotion in League Two whilst developing youth, may love to return to Portman Road and work with a thriving academy.

If the last two predictions come true and Ipswich go up, then the 2020-21 Championship season will see East Anglian Derbies involving two clubs managed by a legendary former centre-back at their respective clubs.

Richie Wellens to earn a Championship job

Richie Wellens has everything a Championship club could want.

On the one hand, he is sufficiently tough-talking to command the respect of his players and build a rapport with natives.

On the other hand, though, he has the tactical nous to build a team that is superbly co-ordinated in terms of passing and movement, as well as its work off the ball, which is evidenced by the way Swindon have played since he took over in November 2018.

Ian Evatt to channel ‘Ollie spirit

At the start of the ‘10s, Ian Evatt and Holloway led Blackpool to an unlikely promotion from the Championship: the former as an on-field leader, the latter as an inspirational manager.

At the start of the ‘20s, we could see Evatt manage in the EFL and channel the leadership that Holloway taught him.

Once an uncompromising centre-back, the 37-year-old is doing an outstanding job in the National League with low budgeted Barrow, who currently top the table.

We could see Evatt lead the Cumbrian outfit into their first ever EFL season or get a job at that level; Grimsby and Leyton Orient are yet to appoint a permanent manager.

Struber to become in-demand

Barnsley took their time over their choice of head coach to replace Daniel Stendel, but the early indications are that they have made the right decision.

Gerhard Struber has overseen a return of 12 points from his first nine games in charge, when the squad was on nine points from 16 games before he took charge.

The German has opted for a diamond system with Jacob Brown pressing up top alongside Conor Chaplin, who has scored seven goals already under Struber, with Woodrow linking play at the tip of the diamond.

The system is working a treat and if the Reds beat the drop – and their form suggests they have a far greater chance of doing so now than they did before the change of manager - Struber will attract interest.

Another decade for Clough and Coleman

In 2001-02, Accrington Stanley and Burton Albion met one another in the Northern Premier League, managed respectively by John Coleman and Nigel Clough.

On Sunday, they met one another in League One, managed by… John Coleman and Nigel Clough.

‘Coley’ and ‘Cloughie’ have worked wonders at their respective clubs to consistently defy the budgetary gulf.

Firstly, this points to excellent recruitment – John Coleman and Jimmy Bell have got former non-league players like Sam Finley and Colby Bishop performing among the best in League One.

Secondly, it shows the standard of coaching – Clough’s Burton side press with energy and hunger, then produce superbly co-ordinated attacks in transition between Liam Boyce, Lucas Akins and Oliver Sarkic.

Coleman and Clough clearly both feel at home at their clubs, they have an excellent relationship with Andy Holt and Ben Robinson respectively – and while results are going well, why change?

Stanley and Burton meeting one another in the Championship managed by Coleman and Clough at some stage in the 2020s sounds like a pipe dream, but events over the last two decades show that anything can happen.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Graham Westley
Graham Westley
(Stevenage)
16th February
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