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Slow start to the annual Football League sack race

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  At least Football League chairmen have waited until September this season to fire the gun in the annual sack race.

By this time last season, a handful of managers had already left their positions and so it has shown great restraint from those wielding the boardroom power to wait for the first month of the 2015/16 campaign to pass before pressing the trigger.

Dickov was sacked by Doncaster Rovers

Dickov was sacked by Doncaster Rovers

Dave Robertson was the first to be shown the door by Peterborough United before rival League One club Doncaster Rovers quickly followed suit by parting company with Paul Dickov.

With both of those clubs targeting promotion to the Championship this season, chairmen have acted quickly before slow starts to the season turn into a campaign of the occasional win sprinkled in between disappointing draws and defeats.

After last season’s dismissal of 47 managers, it’s to be hoped that the dismissals of Robertson and Dickov are not the precursor to the floodgates being opened.

The respective chairmen will hope that their decisions to change manager now will have boosted odds with both the bookmakers and within their own club in terms of their prospects for promotion. But there is never any guarantee that a change will bring a positive effect.

The first two sackings certainly have different characteristics about them.

Given the short-lived lifespan of a Football League manager in the modern game, Dickov could arguably count himself fortunate to have been given the chance to start a third season in charge at Doncaster.

Certainly, it feels like it has been an accumulative effect for Dickov. The former Oldham boss presided over relegation from the Championship in his first year at the helm and last season he could only manage a 13th-placed finish in League One after a run of just three wins in their last 13 games cost Doncaster any chance of making the play-offs.

The top six was again the target for Rovers this season, but a 1-0 defeat at early leaders Gillingham ensured it was just one win from their opening six games. A penalty shoot-out victory over Yorkshire rivals Leeds in the Capital One Cup counted for nothing when it came to determining Dickov’s future.

With a record of 34 wins from 113 games in charge in all competitions, Dickov may not be totally surprised that the axe fell, but there is always the nagging feeling that, if a club have been happy to start the season with a manager, they should at least give them longer to prove themselves.

That sentiment can definitely be applied to Robertson’s situation at Peterborough. He only signed a three-year contract in May after finishing last season as caretaker boss following the departure of Darren Ferguson.

A run of one win in the final eight games ruined Peterborough’s play-off hopes last season, yet Robertson must have demonstrated enough to warrant his three-year deal. To be dismissed just nine games into the new season seems harsh, with Robertson pointing to the pressures of social media as a reason behind his exit.

With chairmen such as Darragh MacAnthony and David Gold a strong presence on social media, it does make it easier for fans to direct their views and opinions at the ones in charge of football clubs. But criticism has always been present in football and it’s hard to believe this different way of expressing unhappiness can lead to a manager’s downfall.

Most importantly, what is to be hoped is that these two sackings don’t lead to a domino effect at other clubs and that managers are given the time and support to succeed. On the back of last season’s record-breaking efforts, it would make grim reading if more than 47 sackings took place this season.

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