Hartlepool United analysing previous promotion winning managers as they narrow down candidates for permanent role – Leyton Orient, Salford City, Lincoln City and Bristol Rovers managers analysed
Hartlepool United are currently narrowing down the candidates to become their next permanent manager.
The club are holding meetings with potential candidates this week and have been conducting research into what the ideal managerial blueprint is to achieve promotion from the National League.
They’ve been looking into the history of managers who have been promoted to the Football League in recent reasons. But after previously appointing a promotion winning manager in Richard Money, a reign that lasted just eight games at Victoria Park, United are looking more recent and delving deeper into the credentials of each promotion winning manager rather than simply box ticking.
Factors such as age, playing experience, previous managerial success and longevity at clubs are all elements Pools will be scrutinising over.
The late Justin Edinburgh is the most recent manager to lead a side to the National League title having done so with Leyton Orient just a month before his untimely passing in June 2019.
The former Tottenham Hotspur full-back played at the top level and had previously achieved promotion from the fifth via the play-offs with Newport County in 2013.
Edinburgh was appointed as Orient manager aged 47 in 2017, leading the club away from the relegation zone in 2017-18 before earning promotion in his first full season in charge.
Last season Graham Alexander earned promotion with Salford City via the play-offs. All of his previous playing and managerial experience came in the Football League as he previously achieved promotion to League One with Fleetwood Town in 2014.
Despite having no previous non-league experience, 47-year-old Alexander was able to lead a well-backed Ammies side to the EFL at the first time of asking.
One of the more refreshing success stories in the National League in recent seasons was Macclesfield Town’s title winning campaign in 2017-18.
The Silkmen operated with one of the lowest budgets in the division yet romped their way to promotion by a 10-point margin with John Askey at the helm.
Askey’s history with Macclesfield is not too dissimilar to that of current Pools caretaker Antony Sweeney given that both were highly regarded club legends having played several hundred games for their respective sides and had no external experience prior to being appointed.
Askey had a brief stint in charge during the 2003-04 season before stepping down to be involved with the club’s youth set-up. Aged 48, he returned in 2013 in an initial caretaker role and despite losing four of his first five matches, was handed the permanent manager’s position.
It was a slow building process at Moss Rose which finally came to fruition during the 2017-18 campaign despite ongoing off-field troubles.
That season saw second placed Tranmere Rovers finally secure their return to the EFL after suffering play-off heartbreak the previous season.
Then 46-year-old Micky Mellon was the man in charge as the club’s perseverance paid off with the former Rovers midfielder lifting the club from a potential National League relegation fight at the start of the 2017-18 season, to back-to-back promotions up to League One.
Mellon was appointed at Tranmere in 2016 and had previous promotion experience from the Conference and Conference North with Fleetwood Town as well as a League Two promotion with Shrewsbury Town.
Danny Cowley is one of the biggest managerial success stories toemerge from the National League in recent seasons. The former PE teacher enjoyed lower non-league success with Concord Rangers prior to being appointed Braintree Town manager in 2015.
In his first season in charge Cowley, alongside brother Nicky, helped a part-time Iron outfit to an unlikely third placed finish in the National League before being appointed Lincoln boss at the tender age of 37.
Lincoln’s gamble certainly paid off as the Cowleys strolled to the National League title in their first season at Sincil Bank before winning the EFL Trophy and League Two title in each of the following two season with the Imps. He was appointed as Huddersfield Town manager earlier this season.
Forest Green Rovers’ Mark Cooper is the fourth manager so far who earned promotion from the National League in his first full-season in charge.
Cooper enjoyed a long a varied playing career across non-league football and the EFL, including a brief stint at Pools in the mid-90s.
The former Darlington manager won the FA Trophy with the Quakers but was dismissed by current Pools chairman Raj Singh following an indifferent run of results.
Cooper then gained EFL experience with Swindon Town and Notts County prior to being appointed Forest Green manager at 46.
Since 2014, the only manager appointed over the age of 50 to lead a side to promotion is current Torquay United manager Gary Johnson, who did so with Chesterfield in 2016.
Johnson’s managerial CV is impressive having narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League with Bristol City as well as taking Yeovil Town to the Championship in 2013.
Another vastly experienced manager in Martin Allen led Barnet to the title in 2014-15 in his first season back in charge before returning to the National League last season for an ill-fated spell at Chesterfield.
Paul Hurst with Grimsby Town and former Pools favourite Darrell Clarke with Bristol Rovers are two young managers who were able to achieve success in the fifth tier despite limited solo managerial experience.
Of the last 10 manager’s to achieve promotion from the National League, seven did so in their first full season in charge. But only Justin Edinburgh and Micky Mellon had previous experience earning promotion from the National League prior to being appointed so it is by no means a necessity.
At 37, Clarke is the youngest manager to earn promotion from the National League with the average age of a promoted manager since 2014 being 47.
Four of the last 10 promoted managers had previous stints at the club with whom they earned promotion with all but two managers having significant playing experience in the EFL.
Crucially, all managers were in charge of their respective clubs at the start of their promotion winning campaign. This is one area of Pools’ blueprint that they won’t be able to follow at least for this season.
United will consider the clubs that have achieved promotion in addition to the managers. Earning promotion with a multi-million pound playing budget with Salford isn’t really comparable to winning the league with a reported £400,000 budget at Macclesfield.
Pools are more akin to the latter and will conduct the appropriate due diligence to reflect that.
Based on their research, the ideal candidate will be a manager under-50 with experience and success both as a player and manager in non-league and/or the EFL.
Current caretaker Antony Sweeney has several desirable qualities but is younger and more inexperienced than any of the previous promotion winning managers which could see the club turn to another candidate.
Former AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor is believed to be a desired option for United as he fits the bill in terms of his age, previous experience, success and ability to stay at a single club for an extended amount of time.
Meetings will continue through the week with Pools expected to give Sweeney a chance while remaining patient in appointing a permanent successor to Craig Hignett.