10 Managers we want to see back in the Football League: From Paul Tisdale to Neil Warnock

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 06 January 2020, 15:56

As 2020 begins, out-of-work managers across the country are giving themselves New Year’s resolutions to step up their chase to get back into the hot seat.

Here are 10 of them who will be hoping to be considered once posts become available...

Nathan Jones

Nathan Jones struggled at Stoke City, whom he left in the Championship relegation zone, but it is hard to escape the feeling he will go on to have a successful career in management.

The fiery Welshman always speaks with passion and has strong convictions in his belief about how the game should be played, which made him a huge success at Luton, where he built a team that won successive promotions.

With the right full-backs to facilitate his diamond system, Jones could be a great fit for a lower Championship club or an upper League One outfit – although a return to Luton would certainly divide opinion!

Paul Tisdale 

Having spent 12 years in charge of Exeter, where he oversaw sustainable progress, Paul Tisdale is a process-driven manager who works with a long-term picture in mind.

The Bath-based boss, therefore, brought the clear-headed leadership that MK Dons needed last season, guiding them to automatic promotion despite various disrupting factors.

Tisdale likes to build teams that mirror himself: controlled and disciplined.

The 46-year-old’s time in Buckinghamshire might not have ended as he hoped, but there were mitigating factors and he will be an attractive proposition for any club in League Two.


Paul Tisdale left MK Dons back in November

Kevin Nolan

Kevin Nolan can take a lot of heart from his first 12 months in charge of Notts County.

The former midfielder kept the Magpies up in 2016-17, then inspired them to promotion contention the following season; his animated, fist-pumping passion being key to galvanizing the club.

After Nolan’s psychological impact on players wore off slightly, though, he had to rely more on tactical acumen and that is where he struggled in the final eight months of his reign - even if he was slightly unlucky that refereeing decisions went against his side in the Play-Off Semi-Final defeat to Coventry.

Some EFL clubs might be interested in Nolan’s ability to galvanize a group very quickly, but others may be sceptical as to whether he can take it forward over a long-term period.

Michael Jolley

Although Michael Jolley’s tenure at Grimsby might not have ended brilliantly, his reputation is certainly enhanced within English football.

Firstly, Jolley kept the Mariners up in 2017-18 at a time when they had been in the worst form out of all the teams in the top four divisions; he then oversaw a season of steady progress last term.

Should get another offer in the EFL. 

Slavisa Jokanovic

Slavisa Jokanovic, currently in charge of Al-Gharafa, is fast becoming a Championship promotion specialist.

The Serb guided Watford to the runner-up spot in 2014-15, then steered Fulham to promotion via the Play-Offs in 2017-18.

Most impressive, perhaps, is that those two promotions came with two different playing identities.

Watford were all about the tenacity of Adlene Guedioura and quick transitions through Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.

Fulham were more patient in possession and looked to dominate through the trio of Tom Cairney, Stefan Johansen and Kevin McDonald.

That shows that Jokanovic can adapt to different squads and make them equally effective going forward.

Paul Heckingbottom

It has not been the best two years for Paul Heckingbottom, who has had a difficult time at Leeds United and Hibernian.

He should, though, be sought after in the middle to lower echelons of the EFL, just because of what he achieved at Barnsley, developing the likes of Alfie Mawson and Conor Hourihane, who have since gone on to play in the Premier League.

The Reds were 12th when he took over in 2015-16 and went on to not only reach the Play-Offs but win the JPT and promotion double.

The following season, ‘Hecky’ steered the South Yorkshire club to seventh in the Championship (January) prior to a late dip in form, which shows he can achieve on a low budget. 


Tony Pulis recently revealed that he's eager to return

Tony Pulis

Tony Pulis is not everyone’s favourite, but there is a reliability about his track record. 

Even when the wily Welshman has not been universally appreciated at a club, he has been shown to have performed 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.

If Wigan opted to change manager at any point, they could certainly benefit from somebody to improve their organisation and management of leads.

John Sheridan

Much like Pulis in the Premier League, John Sheridan is the archetypal lower-league survival specialist.

He loves to come into a club mid-season, re-organise the team help them get out of a troubled situation.

That is something he has done at Plymouth Argyle, Newport, Oldham, Oldham again and Fleetwood.

As we have seen at Notts County and Chesterfield, Sheridan has found life difficult when asked to build a team over a long-term period, but he remains an appealing option as a quick fix.

Uwe Rösler

Uwe Rösler has not been in contention for recent EFL jobs, but his record as a manager is reasonable.

The German should be credited for initiating the good football Brentford have played in the last decade; he guided the Bees to the League One Play-Offs in 2012-13, losing in the Final to Yeovil.

He had them back in promotion contention in 2013-14 before leaving, mid-season, for Wigan Athletic, whom he steered from the bottom half into the top six before losing in the Play-Off Semi-Final to QPR.

Rösler arrived at Fleetwood in the week leading up to the start of the 2016-17 season and guided the Cod Army to 4th, their highest-ever finish, losing in the Play-Off Semi-Final to Bradford.

Play-Off finishes in three of his four EFL clubs to date is an underrated achievement, considering that he has never been working with one of the favourites.

The big question is whether Rösler would want to move back to England, after a spell in Sweden with Malmö FF.


We've definitely not seen the last of Neil Warnock

Neil Warnock

Neil Warnock claims to have retired from football, but we don’t know if we’re buying it.

The 71-year-old is clearly addicted to the game and would surely love to bow out on a ninth promotion of his career, while many EFL clubs would be excited by his track record.

After a below-par 18 months, though, Warnock may struggle to attract a suitor in the Championship with big ambitions due to the model that teams like Norwich, Sheffield United and Leeds have produced.

He may be more at home in League One and could be an enticing proposition at that level.

Managers Departed

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Graham Westley
Graham Westley
16th February
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