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League Two

Sammy McIlroy's Blog 16

5 December 2012

I thought it had been suspiciously quiet recently in terms of managerial sackings and just when I thought clubs were beginning to learn the virtues of patience, the news broke at the weekend that Micky Mellon had lost his job at Fleetwood Town.

For me, it was a rash decision. Micky got the sack after his side were beaten 3-2 by Aldershot Town in the second round of the FA Cup, making it three defeats on the bounce, but overall Fleetwood have made a great start to life in The Football League and to reward the man who won them promotion like that is harsh.

I know expectations at Highbury are sky high at the moment but you have to be careful what you wish for. Whatever finances you've got at your disposal, you've got to learn the ropes in npower League 2 and with Fleetwood in seventh in the table, I'd argue Micky was learning more than quickly enough.

I think two factors cost Micky his job and the first is that level of expectation. It's often a double-edged sword for a manager to find himself at a club with resources because while you welcome the backing, you also know that past achievements suddenly count for less.

The second is how the likes of Crawley have performed recently, going from the Conference to npower League 1 in the space of two seasons. There's nothing wrong trying to emulate that but chairmen have to be aware that such success is the exception to the rule, no matter how much money you spend.

There's also the question of sustainability. When we won two successive promotions at Macclesfield Town in the late 1990s, we were completely out of our depth against the likes of Fulham, Manchester City and Burnley in the Second Division and came straight back down. It was a great journey but because it was so quick, it wasn't one we could maintain.

My point is, Micky was building something at Fleetwood and while a change of manager may bring success and maybe promotion, it's still about the foundations you lay on the journey.

The news from Plymouth Argyle this week is the club are looking to appoint a Director of Football to work with Carl Fletcher. I've still absolutely no idea what the job entails and it'll be interesting to see who is appointed and how it works out.

To be honest, I've always suspected the Director of Football role is a cushy number, sitting in the stands, scribbling a few notes and letting the manager take the blame if the side loses. I've just never understood why a manager would want someone in that position who isn't held as equally accountable when things go wrong.

Back in the 1990s I was in talks with Norwich City about becoming the club manager. Everything was moving forward until they told me a condition of taking the job was working with a Director of Football. I told them I wanted to bring my own people and in the end, it was the straw that broke the camel's back for both sides.

Carl has said he's got no problem with the news. At 32, he's a very young manager and Plymouth obviously want to take some of the pressure off him. In my opinion however, bringing in another layer of management is more likely to increase the pressure.

One thing is for sure and that is a manager and a Director of Football have to 100 per cent trust between them if the relationship is to stand a chance of working. They've got to be friends otherwise the cracks will appear sooner rather than later.

Wycombe Wanderers beat Bristol Rovers 2-0 on Saturday and to rub salt into the wound for the Pirates, Matthew Lund was sent off to make it four games in a row in which they have finished with 10 men. There's no getting around it, Mark McGhee's side are developing a disciplinary problem.

It's tough for a manager down at the bottom. You want to instil a fighting spirit in your players but there's a fine line between aggression and recklessness and recently, the Rovers boys have stepped over the line. The challenge for Mark now is to get some composure back into the team's performances without losing a competitive edge.

That is easier said than done when you're struggling because you just don't seem to get the luck you need. The important decisions seem to all go against you and in Rovers' case, the cards keep coming. The timing of the tackle is just off and the whole world seems to be against you.

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