Sheffield Wednesday: How many Championship clubs have been promoted after changing managers during the season?
Sheffield Wednesday kick off their Championship season at Reading on Saturday still in managerial limbo after the departure of Steve Bruce nearly two weeks ago.
Club legend Lee Bullen will lead the team in Berkshire during what is his third stint as caretaker manager, but with the club seemingly considering their options elsewhere, the identity of the club’s long-term manager is still unknown.
Wednesday entered pre-season with high hopes of a run at promotion, and if Bullen is to be replaced, whoever comes in will hope to become only the sixth of 48 managers to win promotion from the Championship having arrived at their club after the season opener.
But who are the five men to have done it before? Let’s take a look.
Roy Keane – Sunderland – 2006/07
The mercurial hard-man entered his first managerial role in difficult circumstances, taking over a Sunderland side in dire straits after four defeats from four Championship matches.
A win in his first match signalled a sea change, as did five signings rushed through before the end of the transfer window including his former Manchester United team mate Dwight Yorke.
By the turn of the year they were out of the division’s bottom half, and after the likes of Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson joined on loan in January, they were soon unstoppable, capping a remarkable turnaround by lifting the Championship title with 88 points.
Ian Holloway – Crystal Palace – 2012/13
A bright start to the season that saw Crystal Palace knock Manchester United out of the League Cup brought plaudits for manager Dougie Freedman, and when recently relegated Bolton Wanderers came knocking in October, Ian Holloway was the man chosen to keep the Selhurst Park club in play-off contention.
A 5-0 win in his first game signalled a sign of things to come, although it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as inconsistent form almost derailed their charge after Christmas.
Inspired by the prolific Glenn Murray and a young Wilfried Zaha, by now loaned back to the club having been sold to Manchester United, they were promoted via the extra-time of the play-off final against Watford courtesy of a Kevin Phillips penalty in the 105th minute.
Slavisa Jokanovic – Watford – 2014/15
Now settled handsomely in the Premier League, it’s difficult to remember just how unorthodox Watford were in their attempts to get out of the Championship, never more so than in a campaign that saw them managed by four different bosses before the end of October.
It was Jokanovic’s tenure that made the most impact, of course, following the resignation through ill-health of Oscar Garcia and the eight-day reign of Billy McKinlay.
One defeat in their last 14 matches saw them promoted as runners-up, playing a gung-ho brand of football rarely seen in the division before.
Alex Neil – Norwich – 2014/15
Alex Neil arrived at Carrow Road at just 33 years of age, replacing Neil Adams as manager in January after Norwich’s inconsistent start to the season.
The impact was instant. An unbeaten February was followed by just two defeats in the rest of the season as they were kept out of the top two by Jokanovic’s Watford and a rampant Bournemouth.
Semi-final success was made all the more sweeter as they knocked out Old Farm rivals Ipswich before beating Middlesborough 2-0.
Dean Smith – Aston Villa – 2018/19
Former Wednesday centre-half Dean Smith is now a Premier League boss after a run of one win in 10 saw Steve Bruce sacked in October of last season.
Plucked from three successful years at Brentford, a mixed start started talk of another rebuilding project before an incredible run of 10 consecutive wins saw them breeze into the play-off spots.
A win on penalties over rivals West Brom put them through to face Derby County, who they beat 2-1 to complete a whirlwind turnaround in fortunes at Villa Park.