On this day four years ago the post Paul Cook era began with the arrival at Chesterfield of Dean Saunders

Chesterfield have had six permanent managers since Paul Cook left the club and the first of them was appointed four years ago today.

Monday, 13th May 2019, 10:33 am
Chris Turner, then CEO, and owner Dave Allen unveiled Dean Saunders as boss on this day four years ago

Former Welsh international Dean Saunders was the man chosen to lead the Spireites into life after the successful Cook era.

He arrived on 13th May 2015 with three relegations on his CV, from his time with Doncaster, Wolves and Crawley.

But he'd also led Wrexham to the Conference play-offs in 2011 and said on his first day at the Proact that he didn't feel it fair that the Crawley relegation was attributed to him.

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“I’ve walked in to a few crisis situations,” he said.

“I didn’t have to but I did. I walked in to Wrexham - 15th in the Conference and I was with Wales at the time - I knew if I didn’t get that right, I couldn’t coach nationally.

"I fought for two-and-a-half years with no money and eventually I left them top of the league. We went on to Doncaster - hadn’t won for six months - and my job was to try and rectify something from the mess they were in and if not bring them back up.

“I didn’t put them in the mess, I was trying to get them out of it. Some might put a relegation on my CV at Crawley but I didn’t put them in that mess, I was trying to get them out of it. I don’t look at it like that, I put myself in to a relegation battle.

“I hold myself a little accountable because I have pride. I walked in to Wolves and was there for three-and-a-half months and I didn’t spend a penny. To this day I’ve not spent one pence on a player. I’ve been a manager for six years so my ambition is to sign a transfer fee for a player.

“If you walk in to a club, sign a load of players and keep losing and you get sacked, you hold your hands up and say I deserved it, not you have three-and-a-half months and you haven’t signed anyone. I’ve been sacked once in my career."

Saunders brought in experienced striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake on a free transfer, handing him a two-year contract.

He expected big things of the former Wolves frontman: "He needs to get a full season under his belt and score 20 goals for us then he'll be back in the Championship," said Saunders.

"Hopefully with us, or he'll attract someone else."

Also coming in on frees were Dion Donohue (Sutton Coldfield Town), Angel Martinez (Millwall), Chris Herd (Aston Villa), while undisclosed fees were paid for Ilkeston's Rai Simons and West Brom's Liam O'Neil.

Town loaned Lee Novak from Birmingham for the season.

Out went Gary Roberts, Sam Clucas and Tendayi Darikwa, sold to Portsmouth, Hull City and Burnley, while Jimmy Ryan signed for Fleetwood on a free.

Although Chesterfield went out of the League Cup at the first hurdle, the League One season started relatively well, with only one defeat in their first five games.

They didn't win any of their next five, but five wins out of the following eight fixtures appeared to steady the ship.

A run of four straight defeats saw patience in the fanbase very quickly evaporate and Saunders paid with his job, after a 4-0 beating at home to Swindon.

Saunders was sacked on 28th November with the Spireites 16th in League One.

His six month spell at the helm brought eight wins and two draws from 23 matches.

Danny Wilson replaced him a month later, by which time they'd slipped another two places, and under his guidance Chesterfield stayed up, eventually finishing 18th.

Ebanks-Blake went on to score 10 goals that season, while Angel lasted just three games before a serious knee injury took him out of the equation entirely for 17 months.

Chris Herd made 23 league appearances and left the club after one season.

Novak was the club's top scorer with 15 goals, 11 of which came during Wilson's tenure.

Saunders hasn't managed another club since and his managerial record stands at 111 wins and 111 defeats from 295 games, with a win percentage of 37.63.