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Championship Manager Changes
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Championship manager changes: Latest appointments at Millwall, Bristol City and Birmingham

Three months into the 2023/24 season and the Championship has already witnessed a number of managerial departures and appointments.

It will take a monumental effort from all second tier clubs to eclipse the 21 managerial changes that occurred last campaign but with the average reign of a Football League manager in the last decade now halved, more movement seems inevitable.

There have been changes at seven clubs so far, with Matt Taylor the latest managerial casualty following his dismissal at Rotherham United.

Neil Warnock was the first departure with the 74-year-old opting to step down from his role as Huddersfield Town manager. The Terriers hired Darren Moore, who had been out of work since his contract dispute at Sheffield Wednesday, having guided them to promotion in the previous campaign.

The man who replaced Moore at Hillsborough, Xisco Muñoz, lasted just 92 days before Dejphon Chansiri wielded the axe.

Head to the capital and Gareth Ainsworth survived eight months until QPR opted to part ways at the end of October. Gary Rowett, who was the eighth longest-serving manager in England’s top four tiers, departed Millwall at a time when progress had seemingly stalled at The Den.

And then there were the surprise managerial exits...

Birmingham City, who are under new American ownership, decided the time was right dispose of John Eustace, despite the club sitting 6th in the table after back-to-back league wins.

Nigel Pearson was doing his utmost to extract the maximum from a Bristol City squad that had suffered from the absence of their star player Alex Scott and the subsequent underinvestment. Pearson was relieved of his duties but it didn’t take the Robins too long to find his successor in Liam Manning.

Manning’s appointment is a prime example of Championship clubs taking a bold approach with their managerial recruitment process. 

We’ve looked at the names that have taken Championship positions in recent weeks.

Liam Manning - Bristol City

Liam Manning

It’s been a whirlwind 18 months for Manning. 

Under his stewardship, MK Dons were transformed into promotion contenders. Missing out on an automatic berth by a point and losing in the play-offs in the 2021/22 campaign, their fortunes spiralled the following season and Manning was sacked with the club 23rd in League One.

It was a tumultuous period that had tainted Manning’s managerial reputation; one that he had carefully constructed through coaching roles at Ipswich, West Ham and under the City Football Group, where he earned his first managerial role with Belgian outfit Lommel SK.

Oxford United provided an opportunity to showcase his credentials as one of the Football League’s most talented coaches. Steering the U’s clear of relegation trouble last season, he began to plot their ascent up the League One table and had guided the club to second when Bristol City came knocking.

So 11 months after his MK Dons dismissal, and only eight months after his Oxford appointment, the 38-year-old has unearthed a route the Championship.

Calculated and methodical in his approach, Manning’s brand is progressive and attacking. It’s a style that Bristol City have bought into and intend to implement across the entire club.

He prides himself on player development and now finds himself at a club with excellent academy facilities and a proven pathway to the first-team.

Expectations at Ashton Gate may be minimal but Manning has the tools to get the club kicking in the right direction, with the Robins 9/1 to finish in the top six this campaign.

As for Oxford, they’re simply victim of the food chain. Currently 10/11 to win promotion from League One, who they appoint next will inherit the difficult job of maintaining the standards Manning has set.

Danny Rohl - Sheffield Wednesday

You just never quite know what to expect with Sheffield Wednesday, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see them take the plunge on a 34-year-old German football coach who was formerly an assistant manager at Bayern Munich and Germany’s national team.

Danny Rohl’s primary objective at Hillsborough is to preserve the club’s Championship status.

Similarly to the managers mentioned above, Rohl specialises in the implementation of a high-press, attacking system. He’s detailed methods and analysis were a vital feature in Hansi Flick’s set-up as Bayern Munich triumphed in the Champions League three years ago. 

And it’s that level of precision and intellect that Sheffield Wednesday require to have any chance of remaining in this division.

Winless from their opening 11 league fixtures before Rohl's arrival, Wednesday are second favourites to finish bottom at 13/8 and odds on to be relegated at 2/7

The Owls were demonstrating incremental gains under Rohl in his opening four fixtures but a 4-0 home defeat to Millwall was a humble reminder on the magnitude of the task he faces.

Marti Cifuentes - QPR

Fitting the trend of Championship clubs appointing a new head coach with an attacking philosophy, Marti Cifuentes is the man tasked with leading QPR’s escape from relegation.

Honing his managerial craft in Scandinavia, Cifuentes has enjoyed spells with Sandefjord, Aalborg and Hammarby IF.

QPR’s record since Michael Beale departed is staggering. They’ve won just six of 40 league matches, endured a torrid spell under Neil Critchley and while many had hoped for a fairytale return with Ainsworth, the former Wycombe manager failed to arrest their decline.

It’s left them six points adrift of safety and QPR are 4/9 to be relegated.

Cifuentes’ style is of a stark contrast to Ainsworth’s. A student of the Johan Cruyff Institute, the Spaniard’s teachings are heavily influenced by the Dutch legend.

Cifuentes played his part in revolutionising the tactical blueprint in the Allsvenskan by instilling a possession-based system at Hammarby. He will look to replicate that system while cultivating a winning environment at Loftus Road, which at this moment appears to be no easy task.

Joe Edwards - Millwall

Joe Edwards

Times are changing at Millwall.

In a division where parachute payments and gross overspending have been a consistent method for success, the Lions have frequently managed to punch above their weight in a sustainable manner.

Rowett embodied stability, an element the club yearned. His pragmatic style yielded competitive results, with Millwall finishing in the top-half of the Championship in four consecutive seasons.

They’ve made improvements to their recruitment department, identifying talents in the form of Zian Flemming - a player with significant sell-on value who can help the club to grow domestically and financially.

But the club are not settling for second tier consolidation. Without ambition there is no risk and the decision to appoint Joe Edwards is a gamble with major potential.

Edwards arrives in Bermondsey with no prior managerial experience but has glowing references from a coaching career that’s spanned nearly two decades.

Working under Thomas Tuchel and Frank Lampard at Chelsea, he is expected to transform Millwall’s playing style. Gone are the days of conservative, route one football. In line with Edwards’ ideology, the Lions will be attacking, fearless and on the front-foot. It’s what the supporters have been craving.

In recent months we’ve seen John Mousinho flourish in his first managerial role at Portsmouth; Edwards will be hoping to replicate his success.

Wayne Rooney - Birmingham City

It’s a name you may be familiar with.

Wayne Rooney has returned to England after a year in Washington with DC United to accept a prosperous position as Birmingham City’s manager.

The decision to remove Eustace and install Rooney was met with shock from Birmingham supporters and neutrals alike.

The club’s CEO Garry Cook, who’s been in the role since Knighthead Capital completed their acquisition of Birmingham in July, stated the alteration was necessary in the club’s pursuit of a ‘no fear’, attacking style of football.

Rooney could not have asked for a tougher set of fixtures to begin his tenure. Facing Middlesbrough, Hull, Southampton, Ipswich and Sunderland, the Blues have returned a solitary point, sliding from 6th to 18th in the table.

Jay Stansfield is 40/1 to finish as Top Goalscorer after chalking up his fifth goal of the season and with the aid of Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer, the Fulham loanee will be pivotal to Birmingham’s progress this term.

Unlike Eustace under the previous ownership, Rooney is expected to have financial backing in the January transfer window and the 38-year-old will be given the necessary time to make his mark at St Andrew’s.

Will he galvanise a play-off push or will results continue to deteriorate? The Blues are 10/1 to finish in the top six and 14/1 to suffer relegation.


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