There are no guarantees in football. Changing coach with the hope of finishing in a league position that qualifies clubs for the lethal lottery that is the Play-Offs is something that not one, two or three, but four EFL League One teams decided to gamble on in early spring.
In 18 days, which may make or break the campaign, the managers of Ipswich Town, Doncaster Rovers, Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic all moved on and had to be replaced for one reason or another. Ahead of the crucial run-in period at the end of the regular season, not a single one of those clubs is even guaranteed a Play-Off place, let alone promotion.
Will these rolls of the dice pay off? It’s worth looking at each team’s situation in turn. Paul Lambert oversaw a period of decline where the penny-pinching regime of the Ipswich hierarchy finally caught up with them and they endured relegation from the Championship.
Filling Mick McCarthy’s shoes of challenging for promotion despite a shoestring budget at Portman Road would’ve tripped up most managers. Lambert was replaced by Paul Cook; the man who took Wigan Athletic up from League One as champions in 2017-18 before financial problems really bit.
Ipswich have one of the better defences in the division, but their attack is the weakest of the Play-Off contenders by some margin. Unless that improves, then their promotion prospects look slim this term as others are stronger in this department.
Doncaster agreed to let Darren Moore move up to the Championship with local rivals Sheffield Wednesday in early March. Player-interim manager Andy Butler has seen Rovers drop away from contention thanks to a winless run, so they must now be regarded as outsiders for the Play-Offs despite having games in hand on some rivals.
Portsmouth seemed a little harsh in their sacking of Kenny Jackett after almost four years in charge at Fratton Park. However, as MBet’s EFL blog pointed out, he had twice failed to get the club into the Championship after losing in the Play-Off semi-finals.
Danny Cowley, with brother Nicky, got his time as Pompey boss off to a flyer by winning his first four games in charge. With seven games of the regular season to go, this team is in the driving seat for a top six finish thanks to the goals of former Doncaster striker John Marquis.
Charlton lost Lee Bowyer when the lure of returning to former club Birmingham City and helping them to stave off relegation from the division above proved too tempting. Nigel Adkins has picked up where his predecessor left off and the Addicks are on the cusp of the top six as a result.
Chuks Aneke and Conor Washington have both got into double figures for goals in attack, so Charlton carry plenty of threat in their push for the Play-Offs. With the likes of Blackpool, Lincoln City and Oxford United also in the mix, and either Peterborough United or Sunderland seemingly set to miss out on automatic promotion, there should be a thrilling end to the campaign.