Getting to the heart of next generation
Paddy Davitt With Aidy Boothroyd installed as Colchester's new boss this week alongside fellow 38-year-old Roy Keane at Ipswich and Norwich's 40-year-old 'senior citizen' Paul Lambert, East Anglia is rapidly becoming a managerial melting pot for the next generation of touchline talent.
With Aidy Boothroyd installed as Colchester's new boss this week alongside fellow 38-year-old Roy Keane at Ipswich and Norwich's 40-year-old 'senior citizen' Paul Lambert, East Anglia is rapidly becoming a managerial melting pot for the next generation of touchline talent. PADDY DAVITT attempts to shed some light on the DNA of the highly-rated trio striving for success.
t MANAGERIAL TRACK RECORDS
Lambert surprisingly can lay claim to the title of most experienced, having taken charge of 187 matches to date - 11 more than Boothroyd with Keane a distant third (109 games).
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Clearly Boothroyd and Keane can both point to impressive Championship promotion campaigns on their embryonic managerial CVs. Keane performed a minor miracle on arriving at Sunderland in August 2006 with the Mackems already in the Championship relegation zone.
Sunderland had moved out of the bottom half by Christmas but were still well adrift of the promotion shake up until a fantastic end-of-season run. Keane was named manager of the month for February and March that year before clinching the biggest prize of all by winning the Championship title. Boothroyd guided Watford to a surprise play-off final victory over Leeds in Cardiff in 2006 in his first full season after stepping up from an academy coaching background which included a prolonged spell at Norwich during Nigel Worthington's reign.
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Keane managed to keep Sunderland in the top flight, unlike Boothroyd, although the Irishman was gone half way through Sunderland's second Premeirship season with the Mackems struggling at the foot of the table and speculation rife of behind the scenes unrest.
Boothroyd was dismissed from the Vicarage Road hotseat in November 2008 after failing to plot an instant top flight return - a victim of his own success after guiding the unfashionable Hornets into the Premiership.
Lambert cut his managerial teeth in the less pressurised surroundings of Scottish Premier League Livingston after ending his successful playing career at Almondvale.
The Scot resigned before the end of his first season after winning five of his 32 matches in charge but his stock rose at Wycombe during a two year spell that saw Lambert guide Wanderers to the League Cup semi- finals. Lambert again resigned after failing to plot a winning route through the League Two play-offs in 2008.
The 40-year-old replaced Geraint Williams at Colchester last October. United finished mid-table in League One but a considerable 19 points from the play-off shake-up. United's 7-1 opening day rout at Carrow Road last month propelled Lambert to the top of the pecking order amongst the Norwich hierarchy as the man to replace Bryan Gunn.
t PLAYING BACKGROUNDS
Lambert and Keane were both decorated international midfielders who pocketed the ultimate prize in club football - a European Cup-winners medal. Keane missed the Reds' 1999 thriller against Barcelona through suspension but his heroics in the semi final, second leg against Juventus in the Stadio delle Alpi were widely credited with helping United reach their first European Cup showpiece since 1968.
Keane also won seven Premiership titles and four FA Cups during a golden age at Old Trafford as well as being crowned PFA player-of-the-year in 2000. The combative leader finished his career with a Scottish Premier League and League Cup double in 2006.
Lambert enjoyed an equally glittering career with St Mirren, Motherwell and Celtic north of the border. Lambert won 12 major honours after bursting onto the scene as a 17-year-old in St Mirren's Scottish FA Cup triumph of 1987. City's new boss was also one of the few truly successful continental playing exports to leave the British Isles after playing an integral part in Borussia Dortmund's 1997 Champions League Final win over Juventus.
Boothroyd was an aspiring lower league full back who played for the likes of Huddersfield, Mansfield and Peterborough before injury cut short his career at 26.
Clearly the premature end to Boothroyd's own playing career proved a huge motivating factor in his elevation up the managerial ladder at such a young age. Boothroyd was just 34 when he took over at Watford after carving out a reputation as an innovative academy coach at Peterborough, Norwich, West Brom and Leeds.
Boothroyd was castigated for his perceived route one style at Watford but the Yorkshireman is a keen student of the modern game and was one of the first graduates of the League Managers' university certificate course at Warwick University. Boothroyd has also spent part of his recent spell on the sidelines at the likes of Ajax and Bayern Munich to tap into the best continental coaching.
Keane has been at pains to distance himself from the firebrand image of his playing days. The sharp-suited Irishman is now calmness personified in his technical area. But Keane remains as single-minded as ever given his decision to walk from the Stadium of Light despite the public backing of Black Cats' chairman Niall Quinn.
The Republic of Ireland international infamously walked out on his country at the 2002 World Cup after a huge bust-up with manager Mick McCarthy. Keane, however, tolerates no such ill discipline. Witness the transfer listing of Liam Miller while at Sunderland for persistent lateness at training.
Lambert's softly-spoken manner hides an equally steely streak. Colchester defender Matt Lockwood hit out at his ex-gaffer this week after being forced to train with the youth team while Phil Ifil was castigated for his lack of fitness last season and frozen out of Lambert's first team plans.
Lambert was the consummate professional as a player and expects nothing less from the charges under his command. But the new Norwich manager has also already shown flexibility and willingness to put his faith in untested youngsters - no doubt forged from his own playing days as a talented teenager at St Mirren.
Keane would appear to have ready made finances available from Ipswich's reclusive multi-millionaire owner Marcus Evans to satisfy his own Portman Road ambitions. Keane stated on his arrival he wants to guide Ipswich to the top flight within two seasons. The Irishman brought his reported spending to �4m with the late transfer window swoop on his former club for Carlos Edwards and Grant Leadbitter. Keane would no doubt be backed again in January should the Tractor Boys start to move in the right direction. The Irishman presumably also still carries plenty of sway at Old Trafford after raiding his former club while on Wearside to recruit the likes of Jonny Evans and Phil Bardsley on loan.
Lambert and Boothroyd are shopping in a completely different market place. Colchester are averaging 6,500 gates during the opening weeks of the new season at their modern but numerically challenged 10,000 capacity Weston Homes Community Stadium. The club's record transfer fee paid remains �50,000 to entice Neil Gregory from Ipswich in March 1998. Factors that must have convinced Lambert a move to Norwich offered a bigger stage to showcase his talents.
Nevertheless, Boothroyd has demonstrated he is also a canny operator in the loan market and engineered Watford's elevation on limited funds.
City's board would appear to have set Lambert a similar task until and if any fresh investment appears over the distant horizon at Carrow Road.
Norwich's hierarchy bankrolled a major turnover of playing staff in the summer but Lambert himself has alluded to the fact that he will have to wheel and deal for the foreseeable after a distinct lack of transfer window activity in the final few days before the window slammed shut.
“It is never quite easy to get people out and we don't have the money to go and spend here, there and everywhere,” he said. “We maybe tried to get loans or swaps but it never materialised.
“When the loan window opens up again we will try and look at it again but it's not easy when you've just come in the job and you've only got a couple of weeks to go in the transfer window. There are about 12 lads who are new to the football club as it is, so it is not easy. The club never gave me any stipulation that I must get rid of one, two or three. We tried to bring in one or two but they never materialised.”