CLUB: LINCOLN CITY
THE LOWDOWN: Appleton has had such a nomadic coaching career, it’s easy to overlook the very fact he’s still only in his mid-forties. His CV had been a assortment , but he’s one among the experienced young EFL managers around.
After several misjudged career moves including an ill fated spell alongide Claude Puel within the Premier League with Leicester even as his reputation was beginning the 45 year old looks to possess found a perfect fit with Lincoln City.
Few pundits expect the quietly ambitious Imps to be automatic promotion contenders given their relative lack of experience at this level, but Appleton’s steady hand on the tiller ensures they're ideally placed heading into the last half of the 2020/21 season.
With one promotion to his name courtesy of his impressive three-year-spell with Oxford, Appleton also now knows the art of closing out the deal. that would prove essential during a campaign which will likely find yourself as a war of attrition because the fixtures compile .
CLUB: NEWPORT COUNTY
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE: Becoming the FA Cup giant killer in chief, thwarting Leicester, Spurs and Leeds at Rodney Parade.
THE LOWDOWN: Heavily linked with some high profile Championship roles after a blistering start to his management career, it seemed like Flynn may need missed his chance to maneuver up A level as Newport were forced to accept a mid table finish in 2019/20.
However, this campaign has demonstrated the Welshman has the spark needed to shower a side, with the Exiles once more looking sure fire promotion contenders united Two.
It’s easy to ascertain why Flynn would appeal to external admirers.
He’s shown he can excel both in firefighting guiding Newport to a miracle escape in 2017 and in building a promotion chasing side, while also forging a well deserved reputation as an FA Cup specialist never a nasty thing for a club’s balance sheets.
He probably now needs a promotion rubber-stamped on his CV to form that next intensify , but, ‘in the round’, he’s shown quite enough to secure another decent EFL posting however his Newport career ultimately plays out.
CLUB: CREWE ALEXANDRA
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE: Steering Crewe to promotion when the season was settled on PPG in 2019/20.
THE LOWDOWN: Arguably one among the more understated personalities during this list, the thoughtful David Artell has been calmly performing wonders at the Alexandra Stadium without necessarily receiving the plaudits handed bent a number of his more outspoken peers.
The 40 year old was plucked from the relative temperature of handling Crewe’s legendary academy when he was handed the work in 2017. After flirting with promotion for many of 2019/20, the Railwaymen were the beneficiaries of being within the right place at the proper time when the music stopped in March, sitting at the highest of the table when the season was unexpectedly left hanging within the balance.
Agonisingly for Artell, he was denied a league winner’s medal by the intricacies of PPG as Swindon were handed the title despite sitting in second on goal difference when the league was halted.
However, he’s arguably had the victory , with Crewe currently the simplest performing side of all of last year’s promoted teams united One.
After 200 games within the Crewe hotseat, and successfully built on bringing their young stars into the primary team, the large question now's whether Artell can translate his winning formula to an unfamiliar set of players should he prefer to leave Gresty Road.
CLUB: CARLISLE UTD
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE: Making Carlisle look potential champions in waiting united Two.
THE LOWDOWN: It’s fair to mention the reaction was mixed when Carlisle Utd announced Chris Beech because the permanent successor to Steven Pressley in November 2019.
A largely forgettable caretaker spell at Rochdale aside, there was little to suggest the previous EFL journeyman had the management credentials to show an underperforming side into viable promotion candidates.
However, Beech was a part of a highly successful coaching team at Spotland because the long-term No. 2 to Keith Hill, with a promotion on his CV from his time with the Lancashire club.
He finally looks to possess seized his chance because the main man, together with his early success built on Carlisle’s consistency at Brunton Park (eight wins in their first 10 home games of the 2020/21 campaign).
CLUB: CHELTENHAM TOWN
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE: Transforming Cheltenham from mid table fodder to rock solid playoff candidates.
The LOWDOWN: need a sure-fire route to success within the lower leagues? It seems you only got to appoint someone called Michael.
The third ‘Mike’ on our list features a vast wealth of experience in the least levels of the sport after a fairy-tale rise from the Southern League Premier all the thanks to the Premier League during a 20-year career with Cheltenham and Burnley.
Appointing a former club legend is usually a no brainer for a md looking to appease a disgruntled fanbase.
However, Duff’s return to Whaddon Road couldn’t are beyond an easy quick-fix popularity stunt to urge the fans back on side.
The former Northern Irish international is seen together of the foremost tactically astute coaching brains within the fourth tier, together with his switch to a 3-5-2 system helping Cheltenham power to the play-offs last season after finishing 16th in 2018/19.
Despite a fantastic choke in those play-offs, Duff’s side have continued to progress nicely in 2020/21, with the club firmly within the automatic promotion fight.
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