Managers Countdown: The Second Coming of Andy King
Andy King was reinstated following the ousting of the Board that had brought Roy Evans into the managerial hotseat, leading to the former Red resigning. King’s reappearance in the County Ground was a backwards step, never has an imcumbant manager faced such a hostile reception and this unwillingness of many to support King would blight his tenure. How Andy then managed to keep faith and a pennyless Town in Division Two in 2001/2002 and finish 13th, despite scoring the 2nd lowest goals in the League, remains a mystery.
Over the Summer, the sale of Sol Davis to Luton enabled King to pay £50,000 to Chelsea for Sam Parkin. An opening hatrick against Barnsley and another goal in a 4-2 win at Chesterfield took Town top, however the inevitable slide started and soon Town lost 6 on the bounce, a then club record. This included that match at Cheltenham where Gurney got involved with several Town fans right in front of me.
Desparate, King turned to Steve Coppell, who soon got out, claiming even Alex Ferguson would struggle at the County Ground because of the state the club was in.
King’s position seemed only saved by our finances, as the Club couldn’t afford to pay him off. As Town lay in 23rd place, further protests then resulted in Andy calling fans “idiots”, further insensing the already dubious relationship with the fans. Somehow, like the season before, King managed a good finish, this time relying on the goals of Parkin, who hit 25, to rise to a 10th place.
An accomplished scout and networker, King’s ability to find a good player proved the key to our surge to 5th and 73 points in 2003/04. Mooney, Evans, Igoe, Nicholas, Smith and Howard arrived arrived to form one of the strongest sides for some years, however the problem always was that Andy King was managing it. Nervously puffing on a cigar in the dugout, King watched as Gurney (yes him) hit the post with the vital penalty in the shootout, sending Brighton to the play-off final.
That highpoint couldn’t be repeated. The following season Town flirted with the play-offs, however without Mooney, Town were too inconsistent, finishing 12th. Perhaps in hindsight this was still a reasonable finish.
The writing was on the wall for King with the loss of key players in 2005. Parkin was sold, Howard, Smith, Heywood and Igoe all left after their contracts expired. With that nucleous split it was no surprise to see Town struggle, however the manner of own downfall still came as an utter shock. King lasted 10 games of 2005/06 with a record of 2 wins, 1 draw and 7 defeats. A run that would continue under Iffy Onoura, making it 8 defeats in a row, sending us 7 points from safety, a club record in the process.
Good, Bad or Ugly? – Good eye for a player, bad manager and a PR disaster – If only King had moved upstairs to a Director of Football role back in September 2002 and allowed someone else to manage the team… Still his League record was quite good for 3 seasons, when our Division Two status was easily retained.
|League Pld||Won||Drn||Lst||For||Agg||League Pts||P/G||League Score||FAC Score||FLC Score|
|TOTAL SCORE: 247.2|
Click here for a full list of the managers in the countdown so far and their scores, including an explanation of how the scoring works.