Paul Jewell has finally put Ipswich Town fans out of their misery, leaving Portman Road by mutual consent. The results weren't good, but the football on show was often worse. For their next appointment, Ipswich fans will be praying for a boss who can get the boys in blue playing exciting football
To those addicted to Big Four Mega Ultra Super Sundays in the Premier League, the Championship is often viewed as a footballing backwater infested with workaday cloggers, forever stuck with hoofball and 4-4-2. Yet take a closer look and you will find that the most exciting and innovative managers in England are to be found in the lower leagues. Here's four that are famed for their attractive and modern philosophies.
The fact that Holloway plays attractive, attacking football is no secret, but perhaps Holloway deserves more credit with just how good his teams actually are going forward. Last season’s triumvirate of Phillips/Taylor-Fletcher/Ince, with Phillips ready to come on off the bench, were absolutely unplayable on their day. Last season saw Blackpool come third in the “Goals For” charts, beaten only by promoted West Ham and Southampton.
This season Holloway has been even more boldly innovative with his tactics, often experimenting with a back three. Blackpool are still vulnerable defensively, especially from set pieces – aptly demonstrated by Leon Cort’s goal for Charlton a fortnight ago, but when they’re in their groove there are still very few teams in English football as exciting as the tangerines.
“He plays on the floor, he plays on the floooor – Sean O’Driscoll; he plays on the floor!” This is the chant currently emanating from the City ground, so impressed are Forest fans by their new manager's tactics. Before he was stupidly sacked by Doncaster, O’Driscoll’s team were known as “the Arsenal of the Championship.”
O’Driscoll’s teams are committed to asserting themselves on the opposition by keeping the ball. At Forest the central midfield pairing of Guediora and Gillet are totally composed on the ball while Simon Cox is deployed just behind front man Dexter Blackstock ensuring that there is a clear link between midfield and attack.
When O’Driscoll met Owen Coyle earlier in the season Nottingham Forest had roughly 60 % possession. At the Reebok. Unlike Coyle, who loved to shout about it while at Bolton, it seems O’Driscoll really does play the "brand of football that the fans love."
Whereas most managers in the division build their team around a big steely core, Robinson’s is set up around those who are comfortable on the ball
Karl Robinson is constantly being linked with a move away from the hideously named stadium:mk which may come as a bit of a surprise considering his record with MK Dons doesn’t exactly set the world alight – no promotions and not even a play-off final with one of the most envied squads in League One. Whereas most managers in the division build their team around a big steely core, Robinson’s is set up around those who are comfortable on the ball – Stephen Gleeson, Charlie McDonald, Daniel Powell and Dean Bowditch.
It is his attractive playing style, unprecedented for a League One side, that has won him so many admirers from above. Even without a 30-goal a season man ala Jordan Rhodes, Dons still came second in the League One “Goals For” charts, with 84 netted along the way. Speaking from personal experience, I saw a ten man MK Dons boss eventual champions Charlton off the park in League One last season. They unluckily lost the game 2-1 but that did not stop a beaming Karl Robinson emerging to the press. Robinson is manager who is proud of his team not when they grind out a win, but when they have the courage to play. It al sounds very reminiscent of a certain Brendan Rodgers.
So dominant is the possession that Gus Poyet’s Brighton & Hove Albion side enjoy at the Amex Stadium that Poyet is having to devise increasingly ingenious ways to get around teams who arrive at Brighton just to defend. As this blog for FourFourTwo demonstrates, going long is not an option. Poyet has a distaste for just booting it “into the mixer” and admits he tries to emulate how Spain do it.
A quick glance over the transfers that Poyet has made while at Brighton goes some way to revealing the type of football he likes to play; Stpehn Dobbie, Will Buckley, Liam Bridcutt and of course Vicente – hardly your grizzled lower league bruisers.
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