Why is there a manager search?
Paul Hartley was relieved of his duties on Monday, less than 11 months since taking control at Falkirk. In his time at the Bairns he saved the club from relegation to SPFL League One, but they’ve made an awful start to the season with an uninspiring Betfred Cup campaign and no wins from three in the SPFL Championship – a tally which has left them bottom of the table and a 3-0 defeat at home to Queen of the South was the final straw for the fans, club and manager.
Couldn’t he just sign better players?
Well he had signed 16 new faces in a large-scale turnaround of the playing squad this summer. In his time at the Bairns he has seen popular players such as Tom Taiwo, Mark Kerr, Lee Miller, Peter Grant and Craig Sibbald leave, players who a season prior had Falkirk at the top end of the league challenging for promotion. But a change of strategy meant the club started to focus on bringing English players north utilising a scout based south of the border. Richard Mitchell was involved in the recruitment of many of the players now at the club and even last week before the manager left the club, Paul Hartley was still searching for even more recruits.
Who is in charge just now then?
The players are not being left by themselves. Hartley departed but his assistant Gordon Young was kept on to oversee team matters until a new permanent manager is found.
Who will that be?
That’s the million dollar question for Falkirk fans. Jim McIntyre was close to getting the job a year ago when Hartley was appointed and so was hotly tipped to be the go-to-guy this time. But he rejected the club’s advances. So too did Ian McCall who held a brief discussion with the Bairns before electing to stay with Ayr. He’d have been a very popular appointment but now, who takes it is anyone’s guess. Names such as Jim Duffy, Lee Clark, Stuart Taylor, David Hopkin and Stuart Taylor have all done the rounds, but some are wishful thinking than credible contenders amongst the supporters. Gary Caldwell is known to have applied and be keen on the role.
Have there been any other discussions?
The Falkirk board held a meeting on Wednesday night to discuss their candidates and had selected four for discussion from more than 50 applicants. But then 18 hours later came the news of McIntyre and McCall’s withdrawl of interest. We know that not all of the preferred quartet were Scottish and some were employed and others on the look-out for a managerial job but names were still being put forward to the club even while the meeting was taking place.
The board met again yesterday for their regular monthly meeting where the managerial appointment and next steps were again on the agenda.
How long is all this going to take?
Well, the club board was eyeing a quick appointment as their preferred course of action. They are still working on it and Gordon Young will take the team to Dingwall tomorrow to take on pre-season title favourites Ross County. The fans though, are becoming increasingly impatient at the lack of movement, and their preferred candidate’s knock-back.
If County are the favourites where do Falkirk rank?
The Bairns were hoping to make a promotion push after the misery of last season. That was the reasoning behind abandoning their Academy model and diverting as many of the club’s funds to the first team as possible to facilitate this. This season has started off worse than last, but the baord have acted sooner. They sacked Peter Houston in mid-September, and Hartley took voer a month later. This time they are a month earlier in the season so less games have been played, though less points have been accrued. It looks like another long hard season unless a new manager can turn things around drastically – and if there’s a club where drastic changes are becoming all too frequent, it’s Falkirk.
Well yes. Maybe it’s something in the air down Westfield way or maybe it’s just co-incidence but East Stirlingshire, who moved into The Falkirk Stadium to share it with Falkirk this season have sacked their manager in the same week as Falkirk lost theirs. Click here for the story