Why we shouldn’t fear the ‘Flitcroft Factor’

david flitcroftEver the pessimist when it comes to the Cobblers, I tend to look at upcoming fixtures with senses of dread rather than anticipating where we can dismantle the opposition. Be it a shocking run of form at an opponent’s stadium, a dodgy referee appointment or, as it’s been for most of 2013, the Cobblers are playing away.

So it came as sad news to myself and others like me when ex Barnsley man David Flitcroft was appointed Bury manager this week, meaning that his first game in charge comes against the Cobblers this Saturday. Automatically I went into defeatist mode with the general thinking being that new managers usual begin their tenures with a big win. We’re doomed. Or so I thought.

One thing could cheer me up. How about if the above wasn’t actually true and that the new manager impact doesn’t come into effect immediately but is more a case of a slow burn. That would tend to make more sense with little time, in most cases, to have a good look at squads and get some sort of cohesion going for their debut match at the helm. I got to work and became the geek that never left me once more by looking at every League Two manager and how they got on in their first game in charge. The results made me feel a lot better about Saturday…I hope they lift some negative vibes from others too.

The below shows all League Two managers and the results of their first games in charge. For those in the middle of changing their boss (i.e. Scunthorpe, Portsmouth and Bury) I’ve used the result of the first game under the previous manager. It makes for interesting reading:

Manager Team Appointed First game Result
Chris Wilder Oxford United 21-Dec-08 Salisbury 2-1 Oxford L
Paul Cook Chesterfield 25-Oct-12 Chesterfield 0-1 Barnet L
Phil Brown Southend United 25-Mar-13 Bradford 2-2 Southend D
Brian Laws* Scunthorpe United 29-Oct-12 Gillingham 4-0 Scunthorpe L
Keith Hill Rochdale 22-Jan-13 Cheltenham 0-0 Rochdale D
Gary Rowett Burton Albion 17-Mar-12 Burton 0-1 Northampton L
Graham Alexander Fleetwood Town 06-Dec-12 Fleetwood 0-0 Southend D
Justin Edinburgh Newport County 04-Oct-11 Newport 0-3 Southport L
Wayne Burnett Dagenham and Redbridge 26-Feb-13 Bradford 1-1 Dagenham D
Jim Bentley Morecambe 13-May-11 Morecambe 0-1 Barnet L
Paul Tisdale Exeter City 26-Jun-06 York 0-0 Exeter D
Neal Ardley AFC Wimbledon 10-Oct-12 Wimbledon 1-2 Cheltenham L
Mark Yates Cheltenham Town 22-Dec-09 Cheltenham 0-1 Bournemouth L
Colin Cooper Hartlepool United 24-May-13 Rochdale 3-0 Hartlepool L
Gareth Ainsworth Wycombe Wanderers 24-Sep-12 Dagenham 3-0 Wycombe L
John Sheridan Plymouth Argyle 06-Jan-13 Plymouth 2-1 Morecambe W
Guy Whittingham * Portsmouth 07-Nov-12 Bury 2-0 Portsmouth L
Paul Cox Mansfield Town 31-May-11 Mansfield 1-1 Bath City D
James Beattie Accrington Stanley 13-May-13 Newport 4-1 Accrington L
Kevin Blackwell * Bury 26-Sep-12 Stevenage 2-2 Bury D
Nigel Worthington York City 04-Mar-13 Wimbledon 3-2 York L
John Ward Bristol Rovers 17-Dec-12 Aldershot 2-2 Bristol Rovers D
Aidy Boothroyd Northampton Town 30-Nov-11 Northampton 1-1 Crewe D
Alan Knill Torquay United 20-Feb-13 Torquay 0-1 Port Vale L

Incredibly, just ONE League Two manager started off their reign with a victory, that being Plymouth Argyle’s John Sheridan. Nine of them started with draws but FOURTEEN began with defeats. Added to this, new Bury boss Flitcroft was beaten in both of his first two games as Barnsley manager.

While all of this doesn’t, of course, mean that we will automatically get what would be a mammoth result at Gigg Lane it does go a little way to dispelling the myth of the ‘new manager’ factor. I’ll have to find something else to worry about this week!

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