Who's Next?

Following the departure of Graham Coughlan on Tuesday night, I thought I would take the opportunity to weigh up some realistic candidates for the vacant managerial position. I emphasise the word realistic here. I have seen Stags fans mentioning the likes of Paul Cook, Danny Cowley and even the return of David Flitcroft. The first two of those three should be out of our league. 

Cook walked away from Wigan of his own volition after a very successful spell. In my opinion, he is a Championship standard manager. Unless his reported strong relationship with CEO David Sharpe holds massive sway, he surely has better options than a struggling League Two side, including the vacant position at Salford City. Danny Cowley has also been linked with Salford City after his sacking from Huddersfield earlier this year, which a lot of people felt was a harsh decision. Cowley is perhaps not as unlikely as Cook, but he could easily secure a League One job in my opinion. If I am wrong and we are able to attract these managers, then fantastic. After all, we did attract Steve Evans only a few years ago. 

David Flitcroft was sacked by the club after missing out on promotion on the final day of the 18/19 season, and subsequent play-off defeat. Despite a season of mostly attractive football, the owners deemed the failure to secure promotion as unacceptable. Not only do I think Flitcroft would not want to come back, I don't think he should. It's rarely the same the second time around, and there was too much friction between him and the boardroom at the time of his departure.

I have compiled some realistic options, seven in total. I have selected managers with plenty of experience, as that's what I feel is required after two rookie managers. It's no coincidence that our better recent seasons have come under managers with experience.

Graham Alexander

Mr preferred candidate, the former Burnley player was recently removed from his position in charge of Salford City, despite an unbeaten start to the season, with the team in 5th position. As well as Salford, he has previously managed Fleetwood and Scunthorpe, overseeing 367 games with a win percentage of 42%. He won promotion through the play-offs with Fleetwood and Salford, and lost in the play-off semi finals with Scunthorpe. His final positions after full seasons read 4th (L2 Fleetwood), 10th  (L1 Fleetwood), 3rd (L1 Scunthorpe), 3rd (Salford). 

Nigel Clough

An experienced manager, who has had spells in charge of Burton Albion (x2), Derby County and Sheffield United with a 41% win percentage. Spells at Derby and Sheffield United are best described as steady, but he did brilliant work at Burton, getting them promoted to the Championship in 2016 and keeping them there for two years on a shoestring budget, and then maintaining their League One status. All the teams he has managed have been local, and he has an obvious affinity with the Nottinghamshire area.

Darrell Clarke

This one may be trickier given it would require compensation to be paid to current club Walsall at a time where funds may be hard to come by, but Clarke is Mansfield born and bred. Clarke has managed over 450 games, with a win percentage of 45%. He has gained two promotions each with Salisbury City and Bristol Rovers, the latter being back to back. He would be taking over from the manager who replaced him at Bristol Rovers, and would know the abilities of Ollie Clarke and Rollin Menayese. The worry would be that his time at Walsall has been steady rather than spectacular, off the back of a bad run at Bristol Rovers which saw him lose his job.

Keith Hill

The former Rochdale, Barnsley and Bolton manager's contract was not renewed by the Trotters at the end of last season, following relegation from League One. Hill has managed over 650 games, with a 38% win percentage. Over 550 of those were at Rochdale, where he achieved two promotions from League Two, the first after losing in the play-offs two years in a row. The concern is that both spells away from Rochdale have been relatively unsuccessful. He survived relegation by one place in his only full season at Barnsley, and was relegated last season at Bolton, but he was always fighting an uphill battle after their financial problems. It would also be interesting considering his usual assistant manager is David Flitcroft.

Paul Hurst

Born in Sheffield, Hurst has taken charge of seven clubs and over 550 games. His first job came at Ilkeston Town, after Mansfield poached manager David Holdsworth. He has also managed Boston United, Grimsby Town, Shrewsbury Town, Ipswich Town and Scunthorpe United. His overall win percentage is 48%, with promotions at Ilkeston, Boston and Grimsby. He also suffered a play-off final defeat in League One with the Shrews. The concern would be over his last two roles at Ipswich and Scunthorpe, where his win percentage was just 25%. However, both of those clubs have difficult owners, and have both regressed since his departure. Hurst had an unsuccessful trial at Mansfield Town as a player.

Nigel Adkins

Renowned for his positivity, Adkins has been out of work since leaving Hull in June 2019. He has managed over 500 games, with a 42% win percentage. He has managed exclusively at Championship and League One level, with spells at Scunthorpe United, Southampton, Reading, Sheffield United and Hull City. He achieved two promotions with both Scunthorpe and the Saints. The concern would be that the last of those was in 2012.

Paul Tisdale

The final one, and probably the least likely, given he reportedly rejected an approach following John Dempster's departure in December 2019, but would be worth another try to see if time has changed that decision. Almost 700 games in management, with a 39% win ratio. Apart from one and a bit seasons, those were all at Exeter City, where he was manager between 2006 and 2018. He achieved two promotions with Exeter on a tight budget, as well as overseeing an attractive style of football and the development of the likes of Ollie Watkins and Ethan Ampadu. He was also responsible for denying Mansfield promotion in 18/19, when his MK Dons side beat the Stags on the final day to secure automatic promotion. He was sacked after a winless run at MK Dons, the type of which he was able to ride out at Exeter due to the clubs complete faith in him.

The Radford's have indicated they will take time to make sure the next appointment is the correct one, and will be guided by CEO David Sharpe. Sharpe has a reputation as a shrewd operator within the game. This is a big appointment which the club cannot afford to get wrong, after two disastrous choices.