Date: 7th February 2018 at 5:56pm
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AS the managerial roundabout took another spin this week, it is hardly surprising that our own Darrell Clarke should enter the debate.

Two promotions in just over four seasons while, in the process, rescuing a club who many thought was doomed can only add star quality to any CV.

With Barnsley, Leeds, Bradford and Oxford all parting company with the men in the hot seat – Bradford while they still sit pretty in the play-off places – Clarke`s name was inevitably going to be thrown into the ring.

Unfortunately the speculation (and that is all it is at the moment) has given more fuel to those keyboard warriors who have made Gas bashing an art form in recent months.

I`m surprised I don`t see these people walking around the Mem on a Saturday waving placards with “We`re All Doomed” on the front.
Well, if doomed is being mid-table in a very strong League One I would hate to be in the position of Torquay United, just down the road. Without Darrell and some lucky breaks in the Vanarama play-off final a few years ago I think that`s exactly where we could be right now – rock bottom of the Football pyramid.

I always think the very best managers are those brave enough to look at the bigger picture, stamp their own principles on a club and leave a lasting legacy.

There is a lot of pressure to produce instant success and even some of the great managers like Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson could be accused of looking after No.1.

How long was it after Sir Matt left Manchester United that they truly became a force again under Ferguson? Twenty years! And since Sir Alex left nearly five years ago, the club has almost had to start again. As far as building for the future was concerned, the greatest manager in Premier League history left David Moyes and Co with a hot potato.

So what of DC?
While those doom-mongers slam anything to do with the current board they should at least tip their hat to the fact he recently signed a five-year contract.

It`s a shrewd piece of business because if he does leave – and when the right offer comes along it`s inevitable an ambitious young manager will want to move on – we should receive decent financial compensation.

Yet those talking of the Gas sinking into oblivion again are not only being short-sighted but are insulting the very man they revere.

What DC has done for us goes far deeper than turning our fortunes around on the pitch. He has created a backroom staff which means we should be able to avoid the lucky dip of managers next time around.
After our previous promotion-winning boss Paul Trollope got the axe, David Penney, Paul Buckle and Mark McGhee all came into the job lacking empathy for the unique soul of the Gas.

Penney tried to introduce an alien way of playing while Buckle breezed in with a big reputation and told us to lower our expectations: a message he delivered alongside dire performances on the pitch.

And McGhee? He chose to stay in Brighton and turn us into an auxiliary arm of the Scottish Football Association.

When I think of Rovers managers who have done well in the job my first experience was of Don Megson, who lived in the area and sent his son Gary to my school in Winterbourne. After that those who made a lasting impression were Bobby Campbell Sr, David Williams, Gerry Francis, Ian Holloway and Trolls.

They all ‘knew` The Gas, the different challenges our club provides and the restrictions under which they were expected to operate.
DC has brought on board a number of young coaches with a future in the game.

Chris Hargreaves and Lee Mansell are on the development and Academy side while Marcus Stewart (admittedly a John Ward appointment) and the newly arrived Tony Craig, together with Steve Mildenhall, operate alongside DC with the first team.

Each bar Craig has got to know the club over the years and can appreciate the unique demands of the job and the fans.

By the time DC moves on I would hope at least one person within that pool would be ready to carry on the good work, without the board needing to cast around in the murky pool outside.

Is there a precedent? Well, the Anfield ‘Boot Room` concept didn`t fail Liverpool in the 70s and 80s did it?

Nick Rippington is a national newspaper journalist based in London. He is also award-winning author of UK gangland fiction thrillers Crossing The Whitewash and Spark Out.

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Crossing the Whitewash – HERE
Spark Out –HERE

 

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