Former Blackburn Rovers Star Handed Vacant Championship Appointment

Former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Paul Gallagher has been named as the interim head coach of Stoke City, following the dismissal of Alex Neil on Sunday afternoon, the club have officially confirmed.

The Scottish coach had been in charge for 16 months, having left Sunderland at the beginning of last season to take over at the Potters despite guiding the Black Cats to promotion back to the second tier.

This career decision has subsequently backfired on Neil as Sunderland reached the playoff semifinals last season and currently sit inside the top six once more this term despite being managerless at the moment.

Stoke are on a turgid run of form at the moment, having suffered four consecutive defeats on the spin, three of which were against Queens Park Rangers, Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield Wednesday, all of whom are in and around the relegation zone.

Neil’s last victory in charge came away at the Riverside Stadium at the end of October and the team have been winless in six games. Furthermore, the sides around them have all made moves to appoint new managers and have been picking up points in recent weeks.

Speaking on the decision to sack the ex-Norwich City and Preston North End head coach, chairman John Coates said [quotes via BBC]:

“We are grateful for the building blocks he has helped put in place in bringing together a group of players in whom we have a huge amount of faith regarding their ability to turn things around this season, and who can help us achieve longer-term success.

“However, with the way the results have been so far, we have made the difficult decision to seek a new direction for the team at this time.

“Nothing matters to me more than the success of our club and we are now working towards the appointment of Alex’s successor.”

Nevertheless, it has also been revealed that first-team coach Paul Gallagher will take interim charge of the team while Coates looks to appoint a new manager in charge.

Gallagher has played for a number of clubs in the Championship throughout his playing days, including Blackburn, Preston, Leicester City and even Stoke City, moving to the latter on loan during the 2005/06 season.

Writer’s View

It’s never nice to see managers getting sacked. However, Stoke were in free fall under Alex Neil, while all other clubs had changed managers this season already.

Wins for Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend have undoubtedly sent the Stoke board into panic, leading to the decision to relieve Neil of his duties. It will now be interesting to see who is chosen to lead the team forward.

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