5 names in the frame to replace Mark Yates at Macclesfield Town

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 09 October 2018, 12:19

Macclesfield Town are on the hunt for a new manager - but who should they go for? We assess five possible candidates.

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Jay Saunders

The current favourite for the position, Saunders had also been heavily linked with the job in the summer, before reportedly opting to stay at Maidstone United.

Macclesfield thus turned to Mark Yates, who endured an ill-fated 111-day tenure, overseeing no league victories in 11 and suffering seven defeats, not including the 8-0 EFL Cup humiliation at the hands of West Ham.

Yates is no doubt a good man, who twice led Cheltenham to the play-offs earlier this decade, but his lack of outward passion might have been part of the reason why supporters found it hard to warm to him.

By contrast, Saunders left Maidstone with legendary status following a seven-year affiliation and four-year managerial stint, during which he was central to everything the club did.

The Stones cannot afford to appoint lots of staff members and delegate tasks, so Saunders did a lot in terms of helping the academy and the community work; he managed the club as well as the team, which is a testament to his passion, commitment and down-to-earth mentality.

Macclesfield, who are in a similar scenario with regards to budget, need a jack-of-all-trades at the helm and Saunders might fit the bill.

Danny Whitaker/Neil Howarth

Amid Macclesfield Town’s atrocious start to the campaign, the one figure that remains popular with supporters is Danny Whitaker.

Of course, it helps that the technically-gifted veteran captained the club to the 2017-18 National League title win – but it runs deeper than that.

Whitaker was born in Wilmslow – just 10 miles’ drive from Moss Rose – he made his professional debut for the club in 2001 and went on to spend 11 seasons at the club over two different spells.

At the end of every game, he always goes up to supporters to applaud them, regardless of the result, such is his honesty and integrity.

Neil Howarth, who will be joint-caretaker manager with Whitaker after being assistant to Yates, should also be popular after captaining the club to promotion during a five-year stint in the 1990s.

Are Whitaker and Howarth the men to bring new ideas and lead the club forward over a long-term period? That remains to be seen.

However, the club does not have the financial muscle nor the infrastructure to look any further beyond the target of survival, especially with a five-point gap to safety.

For that reason, it’s vital that the next management team can get supporters on board straight away and, perhaps, Whitaker and Howarth might fit the bill.


Craig Bellamy

One of the things that stands out about Bellamy is his honesty.

He will not pull any punches when asked to share his opinions and it is not difficult to imagine that he is the sort of character who might thrive in a relegation battle at this level.

As well as being well-connected in the game, Bellamy has been linked with previous EFL managerial vacancies, which suggest he might be reasonably well-prepared.

Plus, contrary to the theory of famous footballers not making great bosses, we have already seen Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Joey Barton have a relatively positive influence on Rangers, Derby and Fleetwood respectively.

Although, those three managers have taken over clubs in which the infrastructure is already in place, enabling them to focus solely on the coaching.

Bellamy, by contrast, would have to take on a lot of different responsibilities within the club – and without the benefit of a full summer to prepare.

Although the Welshman might have the attributes to succeed as a manager, it is unclear whether him going to Macclesfield would suit either party.

Darren Kelly

An outside shout, perhaps, but Kelly has already tasted EFL management in League One with Oldham.

He will have learnt plenty from that experience and a sequence of seven league games – in which his side only actually lost twice – is hardly enough to judge a manager definitively; especially given that he is not the only boss to endure hardship at Boundary Park under Simon Corney’s regime.

Since that stint, Kelly led Hyde United to promotion from the Northern Premier League Division One North in 2017-18 before seemingly stabilizing them in the seventh tier this term.

The Northern Irishman has built a well-organized, efficient pressing outfit which, with a reliable goalscorer, could make even further progress.

One of Macclesfield’s main problems this season has been a lack of energy in an ageing midfield, whereas Kelly would shake things up and ensure a better balance between youth and experience.

Although the 39-year-old has shown loyalty to the Tigers by rejecting an offer from FC United of Manchester, he could be keen on an opportunity to return to the EFL with Macclesfield and may be ready for the challenge.

Kevin Nolan

The work Nolan did in his first 14 months at Notts County was excellent.

One of the most passionate managers around in English football, the Liverpudlian galvanized the club and turned the team from fearing for it’s EFL status to challenging for a return to League One.


What’s more, Nolan was a 4-4-2 disciple and his methods should suit Macclesfield’s squad.

We have seen recently the importance Scott Wilson can have on the side; when played alongside a target man like Harry Smith or Nathan Blissett, he has the freedom to run in behind and stretch defences, which he did to great effect in the 1-1 draw with Forest Green.

Equally, Macclesfield lack the quality in possession to successfully execute a one-striker system.

While confidence is low, the emphasis has to be on getting the basics right, having two solid banks of four, moving the ball forward quickly and hoping two forwards can combine.

If those tactics are employed without a partner for the main front-man, then he tends to get isolated and we have seen evidence of that so far this season.

Nolan would be a good fit for Macclesfield if the club could attract him – but it’s possible that he might hold out for a better offer, even if that means dropping down to the National League.

The Sack Race’s Verdict

If the Howarth and Whitaker duo can coax improved performances out of that squad during the interim period, they should be considered serious contenders.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Graham Westley
Graham Westley
16th February
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