Hang on a minute. Wasn’t Gary Waddock unveiled as Queens Park Rangers permanent manager a mere three months ago? After a four month trial period? So is it some kind of record that he’s already making way for former team-mate John Gregory? More chillingly, is Londonist starting a trend? Forty-five days back we were sat in an optimistic press conference where Waddock was looking forward to the season ahead. On Wednesday his opposite number that night, Leeds United’s Kevin Blackwell, also joined him on the managerial hit list, ironically after a victory over Barnet where Blackwell began his playing career in 1985. If Swindon’s Dennis Wise, whom we met after his team’s recent narrow loss to Brentford, takes over at Leeds that’ll be three managers gone from the four we’ve encountered this season. Leroy Rosenior, look behind you.
We’re delighted to see that Rangers diehard Waddock has been able to stay at the club as Gregory’s assistant. The new manager himself, “…played here for four and a half years and the ball hardly ever left the floor”, including an appearance in the replayed 1982 FA cup final, which was eventually lost to a Glenn Hoddle penalty. Three years out of management has, however, left Gregory rusty on the finer points of footballing clichés:
"I still have lots of points to prove to myself - although not to anyone else."
Believe in yourself, John! You know we all believe in you!
Anyway, it set us thinking. Whenever a side changes manager the strongest claims are often made for those who, like Gregory, once played for them and haven’t already had a turn in the club’s big chair. So we had a look at the League Managers’ Association’s list of “Available Managers” to find the prime candidates the next time supporters are baying for the head of a London gaffer.
Arsenal - Alan Ball MBE
You’ll need a man who’s succeeded at the highest level to follow Arsene when he goes. How about a world cup winner and a domestic league champion to boot? We were a bit surprised to see the 61 year old’s name up there since he left his last managerial post at Portsmouth seven years ago, but he was seen on television during the recent world cup and, after family tragedy a couple of years ago, perhaps he feels ready to come back to the game.
Alternatives: Viv Anderson, David O’Leary
Charlton – Mike Walker
We were becoming desperate until we discovered that the former Norwich City and Everton manager played a single game in goal on loan at the Valley in 1973. If anybody can tell us anything about that occasion we’d be very grateful.
Chelsea – Terry Venables
Chelsea are the only club Venables played for that he’s never managed, and, with El Tel back in the England set up, he might be one of the few current English coaches who could cope with the extreme pressure of working with Roman’s roubles. Might be best not to ask the opinion of Palace fans on this one, though, and obviously Michael Ballack would have to wait his turn behind Nicky Barmby…
Alternatives: Ian Britton, Steve Kember, Kevin Wilson
Fulham – John Beck
We’re trying to imagine life at Craven Cottage under the manager whose time at Cambridge United made him synonymous with assault courses, cold showers and the purest of long ball games. His achievements at the Abbey Stadium might make you think this stalwart of more than a hundred games for Fulham between 1978 and 1982 could have the desired effect on Fulham’s league position, but maybe the time for such methods has passed as he couldn’t repeat the trick when he returned to Cambridge in 2001.
Tottenham Hotspur – Chris Waddle
We somehow doubt that any Spurs side run by former Burnley player manager ethethethethethethetheth Chris Waddle, would currently be lacking a bit of width on the left. His attacking approach would surely be music to the ears of the White Hart Lane faithful. Unlike his music.
Alternatives: Graeme Souness, Joe Kinnear
Watford – Carlton Palmer
Everyone’s favourite England midfielder made five appearances for the Hornets on loan from Coventry over the 2001 New Year period. Graham Taylor used him to help steady a side on a losing streak and winning ways had returned by the time Carlton was called back to the Midlands. Struggling managerial stints at Stockport and Mansfield might not be the best CV, but hey, Aidy Boothroyd hadn’t managed anyone at all and look what he’s done.
Alternatives: Glyn Hodges, Mike Walker
West Ham – Tony Cottee,
We think the diminutive Plaistow-born scorer of 118 goals for the Hammers could be persuaded to whip off his Sky headphones and dash to Upton Park if the call came. However, we hope it would be the memory of his West Ham playing days he rekindled rather than his disappointing six months in charge of Barnet in their 2000/2001 relegation season.
Alternatives: Jimmy Quinn, Tommy Taylor
Crystal Palace – Andy Preece
Currently managing Worcester City in his native county, Preece made 23 starts for the Eagles in the 1994/1995 season netting five times in the process. He managed four years as manager of Bury under dire financial circumstances and would surely relish a chance at Selhurst Park. He’ll probably be waiting a while though. Recent appointee Peter Taylor is so safe we can’t even find odds on him losing his job on the online betting sites
Alternatives: George Graham, Glyn Hodges, David Kemp
Barnet – Kevin Blackwell
Maybe his puzzling last appearance in the Leeds dugout for Tuesday night’s League Cup tie was actually an elaborate interview for a potential vacancy at Underhill? Time will tell.