Danny Cowley leaves Lincoln for Huddersfield: A huge risk or logical next step?

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 09 September 2019, 15:56

It took some persuading but in the end Danny Cowley decided to leave his post at Lincoln City in order to test himself at the next level with Championship side Huddersfield, who sacked Jan Siewert three weeks ago.

Only last week Cowley, who was also hotly linked with Sheffield Wednesday, rejected the chance to replace Siewert at Huddersfield, despite Lincoln agreeing on a compensation fee with the Yorkshire side.

Wednesday then appointed Garry Monk last Friday, and now in a dramatic turn of events Cowley, and his brother Nicky, have decided to bring an end to their hugely successful three-year tenure in charge of the Imps.

Cowley, one of the most in-demand Football League bosses who featured in the next Hull, West Brom and Middlesbrough manager markets over the summer, evidently held reservations about leaving Lincoln for a Championship club.

Afterall, in the summer of 2018 Paul Hurst swapped League One Shrewsbury for then-Championship Ipswich, only to be sacked in October with a 6.7% win rate to his name. The negative experience has evidently affected the 44-year-old who has since taken one point from a possible 21 at Scunthorpe, the Football League’s basement club.

There’s also the case of Nathan Jones, who took a ‘calculated gamble’ back in January after he decided to leave Luton - who had won promotion from League Two six months earlier - to succeed Gary Rowett at Stoke. It’s not quite gone to plan for the Welshman who has cut a frustrated figure after registering just four wins from 29 games, with his troops rooted to the foot of the Championship with one point to their name.

Meanwhile, back in 2011 Eddie Howe left third-tier Bournemouth to join second-tier Burnley but within a year he was back at the Cherries. Although in this case, it proved to be a wise decision by Howe to go back as the rest, as they say, is history.

The chance to move up the managerial ladder was evidently hard to resist for the Cowley brothers - or any manager for that matter - who will hope that their own path will prove to be more positive as they prepare to inherit a Huddersfield side void of confidence, morale and wins - the last of which came back in February.

Lincoln fans will be understandably crushed at the Cowleys' departure, considering the seismic impact both himself and brother Nicky had upon their arrival in 2016.

At the time Lincoln were set to embark upon their sixth successive season in the National League, however within a year the Cowley brothers had not only led their troops to the title but become the first managers in over a century to propel a non-league club into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

In their first season back in the Football League Lincoln bagged a spot in the play-offs, where they lost out to Exeter, however they did enjoy a run through to Wembley where they beat Shrewsbury Town in the EFL Trophy final.

Last term Lincoln were crowned League Two champions as they secured promotion into League One for the first time this century (1999), then raced out of the traps this season with four straight wins in all competitions, including a 1-0 defeat away to his Cowley’s future employers Huddersfield in the cup.

But with Cowley’s future dominating the headlines of late, Lincoln have stalled somewhat, enduring a rotten run of five defeats in six games including a 3-1 loss to Wycombe last weekend, which has subsequently turned out to be his final match in charge.

Cowley’s an ambitious and driven manager, and the switch is undoubtedly a big risk, however he has the confidence to thrive at the next level where he will have to juggle increased expectations with bigger egos in a new and high-pressure environment.

Success has been a staple of Cowley’s managerial career to date. In his first job at non-league Concord Rangers he oversaw three promotions, then took Braintree Town to the play-offs, before he was lured over to Lincoln.

As we’ve discussed, it doesn’t always work out of course. The move may have backfired for Hurst - a bright light who has faded badly - while Jones is enduring a tough time, but Cowley is a different manager in a different situation, and if he can continue to sprinkle his managerial magic he has the potential to achieve further success in his new position.

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