The last few days and weeks have seen the paths of two managers lead in very different directions. Terry Connor has looked a disconsolate figure in the Wolves dugout, having picked up two points from a possible (albeit unlikely) 30 on offer and seen his Old Gold side relegated to the Championship.
Meanwhile, some 135 miles south-east, Roberto Di Matteo has seemingly masterminded a Chelsea resurgence that has taken them to the cusp of a Champions League trophy Ã¢ÂÂ the one thing Roman Abramovich covets, and the one thing his stream of managers have failed to deliver.
Yet Connor and Di Matteo have something significant in common. Both were assistant managers promoted to the big job instead of serving another man brought in from outside. Given their identical tasks in trying to turn around a discontented, underperforming team, the fortunes of each manager couldnÃ¢ÂÂt be more conflicting. Simply put, itÃ¢ÂÂs been one big success story for Di Matteo, and one unfortunate tragedy for Connor.
So what does history tell us? Is promoting from within an inspired (and cheap) decision, or a disaster waiting to happen? Or is it the case that giving the keys to the second-in-command has always been as much a gamble, with just as unpredictable results, as Di Matteo and Connor have shown this season?
August 1974 Ã¢ÂÂ May 1983
P535 W308 D131 L96
Win ratio 58%
ThereÃ¢ÂÂs no better place to start than with a manager who carried on what his predecessor had begun. Undoubtedly the most successful embodiment of a coach-to-manager transition, Paisley was a managerial graduate of LiverpoolÃ¢ÂÂs famous Ã¢ÂÂboot roomÃ¢ÂÂ under Bill ShanklyÃ¢ÂÂs leadership.
The switch was a smooth one, with Paisley already part of the furniture and seen as a kindly uncle alongside the father figure of Shankly. If anyone was reluctant to accept the change it would have been Paisley himself, a modest man who tried to sneak away from a Wembley win in 1983 without lifting the Milk Cup.
PaisleyÃ¢ÂÂs record speaks for itself: 19 major trophies, including six league titles. He is the only manager ever to win three European Cups, and it will stay that way for a bit longer now that Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have failed to reach this yearÃ¢ÂÂs Champions League Final.
So successful he famously said, Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂve been here during the bad times too Ã¢ÂÂ one year we came secondÃ¢ÂÂ, yet all the while showing an unassuming persona, Paisley became a legend of the game. Not a bad internal appointment, then.
October 1958 Ã¢ÂÂ August 1974
P783 W373 D189 L221
Win ratio 48%
Ã¢ÂÂBill NickÃ¢ÂÂ took the reins at White Hart Lane after acting as a coach for Spurs, and also England at the 1958 World Cup.
Regarded as TottenhamÃ¢ÂÂs finest manager, he won the league, three FA Cups, two League Cups, a Cup WinnersÃ¢ÂÂ Cup and a UEFA Cup, in a tenure that included the first ever domestic cup double of the 20th century.
As a player, coach, manager, scout and president, Nicholson stamped his image on Tottenham Hotspur, and like Paisley he proved that loyalty pays off Ã¢ÂÂ and so too does trusting your assistants with the managerial mantle.
October 1998 Ã¢ÂÂ June 2002
P203 W101 D47 L55
Win ratio 50%
Assistant to George Graham until 1998, OÃ¢ÂÂLeary took the Yorkshiremen on a cash-fueled, four-year stag do around Europe (the less said about the hangover, the better).
Known for their array of young talent, or Ã¢ÂÂhonest bunch of lads who try to do their bestÃ¢ÂÂ as OÃ¢ÂÂLeary called them, Leeds reached their peak with the Irishman in 2001, beating AC Milan and qualifying at the expense of Barcelona en route to the Champions League semi-finals.
That fantastic European campaign will never be forgotten by Leeds fans, even though the money spent during the former Arsenal defenderÃ¢ÂÂs reign Ã¢ÂÂ nearly ÃÂ£100m in four years Ã¢ÂÂ would ultimately lead them to financial ruin. By then, OÃ¢ÂÂLeary had been given the boot by the much-loved Peter Ridsdale.
But thereÃ¢ÂÂll always be the memories...
January 1981 Ã¢ÂÂ June 1987
P303 W144 D74 L85
Win ratio 48%
Unlike his satirical Scouse brother Mike Bassett, Dave never achieved England manager status, but his miracle work at Plough Lane did lay the foundations for one of English footballÃ¢ÂÂs most charismatic teams Ã¢ÂÂ the Crazy Gang.
Taking over in the old Fourth Division, Bassett guided the Dons to four promotions (and one relegation) in six years, taking them to the top flight just nine years after they joined the Football League.
He is also regarded as the architect of WimbledonÃ¢ÂÂs... Ã¢ÂÂphysicalÃ¢ÂÂ tactics, perfectly suited to a time when a two-footed dropkick to the face wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt warrant a ticking off.
June 1995 Ã¢ÂÂ May 2006
P514 W198 D137 L179
Win ratio 39%
Having been a player-coach for one year and joint manager with the wonderfully named Steve Gritt for four, Curbishley took sole command of Charlton in 1995 and within three years took them to the Premier League.
Final-day relegation swiftly followed in 1999, but promotion returned them to the top flight just as quickly and six happy years ensued, with the Addicks consolidating top-flight status under his tenure and under the radar.
When Curbishly left Charlton in 2006, they were comfortably mid-table. That two relegations in three years followed hints strongly at the positive impact Curbs had in his 16 years at The Valley.
November 2006 Ã¢ÂÂ December 2006
P7 W1 D1 L5
Win ratio 14%
WeÃ¢ÂÂll stick with Charlton as we begin our search of the assistants-turned-managers who, like Terry Connor, seemingly found themselves out of their depth.
Les Reed did not look like a football manager. Sadly for Charlton, appearances werenÃ¢ÂÂt deceiving. Harshly branded Ã¢ÂÂLes MiserablesÃ¢ÂÂ by a press unaware of standard French pronunciation, Reed was another member of the earpiece brigade, and was more of the Sammy Lee ilk (see below) than Sam Allardyce in terms of getting results.
Ã¢ÂÂSanta CluelessÃ¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ another cracker from our friends on Fleet Street Ã¢ÂÂ was relieved of his duties on Christmas Eve, presumably not because he had work to do at the North Pole. HeÃ¢ÂÂs often regarded as the worst manager of all time, which isnÃ¢ÂÂt very nice, but isnÃ¢ÂÂt easily deniable either.
The Addicks went down under Alan Pardew that season, and have yet to return.
April 2007 Ã¢ÂÂ October 2007
P14 W3 D4 L7
Win ratio 21%
As Big Sam departed the Reebok for Newcastle, Little Sam took over at Bolton Ã¢ÂÂ but he looked a weak figure throughout his short time in charge, especially given AllardyceÃ¢ÂÂs success with the club (not to mention his size).
Sammy LeeÃ¢ÂÂs tendency to sport the Britney Spears earpiece on the touchline raised a few giggles, and an important question too: who was on the other end?
In a few months, Lee Ã¢ÂÂ now back at Bolton, working with the Academy after a stint as assistant manager at Liverpool Ã¢ÂÂ took Bolton from the European spots to the relegation places, and he was let go before things got out of hand.
Still, his enthusiastic, positive nature meant that Wanderers fans bear him no ill will. They just donÃ¢ÂÂt want to ever see him in the managerÃ¢ÂÂs seat again.
June 1969 Ã¢ÂÂ December 1970
P87 W32 D32 L23
Win ratio 37%
A harsh inclusion? Revisionists would argue that Wilf McGuinness did a decent job in very difficult circumstances, but nobody ever said being a football manager isnÃ¢ÂÂt hard. And looking back, maybe appointing a 31-year-old first-teach coach as Matt BusbyÃ¢ÂÂs successor, while the greatest manager in the clubÃ¢ÂÂs history is upstairs watching your every move, isnÃ¢ÂÂt a tip-top idea.
Certainly, leading Manchester United to eighth in 1970, a three-place, three-point improvement on the previous year under Busby, doesnÃ¢ÂÂt represent an absolute disaster. But the team began the following season badly, and they have high expectations up at Old Trafford. In an incredible case of surrender and retreat, the United hierarchy sent McGuinness down to his old position in charge of the reserves, and brought Busby back to take the helm once more.
McGuinness may have been a victim of circumstance in his unsuccessful move up the ladder, but itÃ¢ÂÂs worth pointing out that he went on to take York City from their highest ever league position to two successive relegations, leaving them needing to apply for re-election to the Football League.
October 2008 Ã¢ÂÂ February 2009
P22 W4 D7 L11
Win ratio 18%
Four years out of practice after taking Wycombe down to League Two in his debut managerial job, Tony Adams was nonetheless named as the man to follow Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth.
He only followed him out the door, however, as his tenure at Fratton Park lasted just a matter of months. Once a fantastic defender, Adams was arguably let down by a back line that threw away 10 points in the last 15 minutes of his 16 league games in charge Ã¢ÂÂ but the manager can hardly be absolved from all blame for such a record.
Still, chief executive Peter Storrie should probably get some of the flak, for saying on AdamsÃ¢ÂÂ appointment that he hoped Ã¢ÂÂTony will be here for as long as he wants to be here.Ã¢ÂÂ
Yes, Peter, unless you sack him first.
June 2000 Ã¢ÂÂ November 2000
P21 W7 D4 L10
Win ratio 33%
May 2007 Ã¢ÂÂ November 2007
P13 W2 D2 L9
Win ratio 15%
Hutchings is a fascinating creature; an assistant who keeps getting managerial work even though he clearly isnÃ¢ÂÂt very good at it.
Assistant at Bradford, Hutchings took over the then Premier League side when Paul Jewell left at the end of the 1999-2000 season. A markedly poor few months followed for the Bantams, with just one win from 12 Ã¢ÂÂ against Chelsea, admittedly Ã¢ÂÂ proving evidence enough for the inexperienced manager to be given his P45.
Still, we shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be too harsh on Hutchings: he did take Bradford to the semi-finals of the Intertoto Cup in the summer with wins over FK Atlantas of Lithuania and HollandÃ¢ÂÂs RKC Waalwijk. Then there was that 7-2 win over Darlington in the League Cup. Take that, Darlo!
It was evidently enough for Wigan chairman Dave Whelan to give assistant manager Hutchings another bite of the spam fritter some seven years later Ã¢ÂÂ again after Paul Jewell had left the club. Six straight defeats led to HutchingsÃ¢ÂÂ demise, in a perfect example of how to save your season by getting rid of your malfunctioning gaffer at the first sign of collapse (NB: This does not always work).
There was a sense of the inevitable when Jewell resigned as Derby County manager in December 2008, and sure enough Hutchings once again took the helm, albeit only in a caretaker role this time. He was replaced by Nigel Clough, still manager at Pride Park today.
Time in charge of Walsall followed, but Hutchings seems to have accepted his true calling as a No.2, rather than a leader of men. He is now assistant at Ipswich Town. You can guess who their manager is Ã¢ÂÂ and probably who their next one will be.
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