THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

11 March ~ Although we are constantly told that managerial lifespans are too short these days and that every manager needs time to introduce their own philosophy, tactics and personnel to a club, there can surely be no doubt that the decision to remove Dave Penney as the manager at Bristol Rovers after less than two months and 13 games in charge was the right one. He joined a club that was struggling and left it in crisis, having accumulated a mere eight points out of 39 and with the team seemingly giving up before they’d even walked out onto the pitch.

For one man, even the manager, to have such an effect is quite an achievement. The flaws were obvious from the start, his “tactics” being the simple one of hit and hope, the players confused and demoralised by the reversion to long ball and apparently poor man-management. It had been an indifferent season under previous manager Paul Trollope but the team had actually been trying to play football, now they weren’t even trying.

Caretaker managers aside, the closest precedent to at Rovers this was Martin Dobson's brief reign when he replaced Gerry Francis in 1991 – Rovers got four points from his eight games in charge. But Dobson was taking over a relatively successful team that had been promoted two seasons previously, and Francis would have been a difficult act to follow for anyone (though I seem to remember Martin O’Neill being in the frame at one point).

Penney was brought in to do a specific job, that of avoiding relegation, and never even got going. The final straw was the defeat against fellow strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday which he compounded by seeming to admit that Rovers were going to be relegated anyway with 12 games still to go, an unforgiveable capitulation by anybody’s standards.

So it may have been a surprise but it doesn’t sound like anybody was sorry when the board made the decision to remove him and replaced him with skipper Stuart Campbell until the end of the season. Already an improvement in morale and performance has brought about a win at Tranmere on Tuesday, and if this team doesn't fight for Campbell, then they don't deserve to stay up. Jim Gwinnell

Comments (2)
Comment by Paul Rowland 2011-03-11 13:53:48

Some people may say - with the benefit of hindight admittedly - that it is no great surprise that Dave Penney failed at Bristol Rovers. After all he had previously failed at Oldham and Darlington before that. What does surprise me, however, is that people like Dave Penney continue to secure management positions and continue to earn a good living from doing something that, on the face of it, they are really not very good at.

Despite his abject record at Rovers, I hear he's already in the frame for the vacant Grimsby job, which to me seems totally unfathomable - and yet at the same time all too predictable.

Comment by ecwoodhouse 2011-03-11 15:48:23

I made the trip to Bristol as a Brighton fan a few weeks back (we beat them 4-2) and they reminded me a lot of the Brighton team I had the misfortune of watching only a couple of years earlier in Micky Adams' second spell. Not an unable team, but lacking in confidence and the ability to defend. We replaced Dean Wilkins with Adams (after the former had guided us to 7th in the league the previous season), on the premise that Adams had the necessary know-how to get us back to the Championship. We escaped relegation on the final day of the season under Russell Slade.
There are parallels between this and Rovers this season. I think Trollope was over-rated as a manager, but he had potential. The decision to get rid of him was strange. Penney is both not very good and also now part of a dying breed of lower-league managers. Those with the "know-how" and "experience" are fast being replaced with younger managers such as Karl Robinson at MK Dons, Eddie Howe at Burnley, and the man currently leading my beloved Seagulls to the Championship, Gus Poyet.

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