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Ask Steve Claridge

Steve Claridge
Claridge is the BBC's new Football League expert

Middlesbrough's decision to sack Gareth Southgate while they are a point off the top of the table has made all the headlines this week, and I give my take on it below.

I also give my views on Notts County, Aldershot, Watford and Nottingham Forest and explain why I won't be applying for any vacant managerial jobs for the next few months.

If you have a question for Steve, you can submit it through Twitter or use the form on the top right of the page.


Hi Steve, After three inept seasons in the Premier league, finishing lower each season, and after a poor run at home, losing three on the bounce before beating Derby - our worst record for 9 years, do you think it was right Gareth Southgate was sacked by Middlesbrough? It's not like he hasn't had enough time or money.
Jonathan Cooke, England

That win should keep you in a job, not get you the sack. It's amazing - Boro have lost three on the spin at home and it's probably the one time when he shouldn't have gone.

The decision had obviously been made before the game, and it's just unfortunate for the people who have sacked him that results went the way they did - it looks a strange decision now, with Boro a point off the top of the Championship.

Middlesbrough v Watford

Middlesbrough 0-1 Watford

They were probably hoping they would get beaten again on Tuesday night because that would have made this decision far easier - if Boro had lost, you might have said fair enough. But it's amazing the difference one win makes, because along with a few other results it has made us question why he has gone.

There were times last year when he might have gone - he took an established Premier League side and got them relegated - but, having kept him over the summer, I just thought the brief was to see how things were at Christmas.

You either sack him at the end of last season or give him the chance to take you back up - but Boro chairman Steve Gibson has done neither.

It just seems strange to get rid of him now. It could be because they have got someone else lined up, which is why Tuesday's result was immaterial.

But, getting away from the timing of it, of course there is a case for him being sacked. I don't think he can have any gripes, he has had a good go at it.

What next? Well, generally clubs go completely the other way when they replace a manager. If an old, experienced boss hasn't worked they go for somebody younger - and vice versa.

And, whoever takes it, it's great job. You don't normally have a chance to take a job at a team so near the top of the table, unless they have just had their manager poached, not sacked, so these are strange circumstances.

Hi Steve, what did you make of the sacking of Ian McParland by Notts County? I'm a lifelong fan of the Magpies and did not agree with the decision. Also, who do you think could be in line to succeed him?
Tom Walters, England

There are some similarities with the Southgate decision. County were four points off the top of the table when McParland was sacked - when did that become a sackable offence!?

Rotherham 0-0 Notts County

Highlights - Rotherham 0-0 Notts County (UK users only)

The facts are that it is going to take them at least three years to get into the Premier League, no matter how much money they spend they are not going to get there any quicker so what's the rush? If you want a Premier League side, buy one. If you buy a League Two side you are in it for the long haul and that means, along the way you might have to spend a year longer than you'd like somewhere.

But that's something you've got to accept because that's why you have been able to buy the club for a minimal amount.

There have been some big names linked with the job but these people aren't going to know the level of football, or the players - what are they going to do, spend £50m to get them out of League Two? It's absolutely ridiculous.

So their best bet is to go with people who have got teams out of that division or people who are doing well in that division - they need somebody who knows what it takes to get out of it. Someone like Mark Robins, before he left Rotherham for Barnsley, would have been perfect.

Hi Steve, what do you think of Gary Waddock leaving Aldershot to go to Wycombe, and what do you think of Jason Dodd as caretaker manager?
Gavin Roe, UK

I just hope Gary hasn't jumped six months too soon. He has got time to turn their season round and keep them in League One but you just wonder where Wycombe will go after that?

What does he have to do at Wycombe to get noticed by a bigger club? The same as he has done at Aldershot; get them promoted and punching above their weight in a division.

But that is going to be tough and he is going to have to be given more money than previous managers - like Peter Taylor for example - were handed.

Jason Dodd has been very pro-active in getting his chance at Aldershot - I got my Uefa 'A' Licence with 'Doddy' and there can't be many people keener to prove themselves as a coach than him.

Waddock is a tough act to follow but good luck to him. If he keeps the wheels turning there, then he might get the job.

A few of you have asked me whether I would be interested in the Shots job, or the one at Notts County for good measure.

My intention is very much to get back into management - football is my lifeblood - but the timing is not right at the moment.

I have got one small child and another on the way in a few months' time and, for once, I have to prioritise. I have got responsibilities, which I've not had before.

At the right time, I would walk barefoot over broken glass for a job in football but this is not the right time. I've got a very settled job with the BBC that I enjoy doing and I have other considerations.

In another six months or a year I'll be banging down the doors of some of these clubs because I am desperate to get back into management and prove I am more than capable of doing the job

I have changed as a person, I am far more mature than I was, so I want to be around when my children are small and want to help my wife because looking after small children is a lot of work. We also hope we might be able to adopt as well, because I am adopted.

But in another six months or a year I'll be banging down the doors of some of these clubs because I am desperate to get back into management and prove I am more than capable of doing the job.

I would love to manage Aldershot. When people say to me 'aren't you disappointed you didn't get to the top earlier as a player?', I say 'no' because that was one of the clubs where I had such rich life experiences.

Notts County would be a dream job for anybody. The opportunity is there to make your mark and take that club on. It could explode - in a positive sense!

From @AndrewCarberry on Twitter. Steve, what is your opinion of the job Malky Mackay has done so far for Watford this season. Do you also think he can keep us up?

Keeping Watford up is Mackay's first priority but he is doing a very good job so far. They're not going to get promoted but they are not going down either.

He has shown that he knows the Championship and he has got them playing well, considering they flirted with relegation last season and were in a bit of trouble at one stage.

Malky had to wait to get his chance too - he got it once, then had it taken away from him when they gave Brendan Rodgers the job - so he deserves it more than most.

I think Graham Taylor (former Watford boss who is now a non-executive director at the club) had a little bit to do with him getting the job, so we can give him a pat on the back too.

Hi Steve, I am a Nottingham Forest fan and, although I don't think that we are certainties for promotion, I do feel that we have a chance. People keep telling me that it is too early to go up but do you think that you can get promoted too early?
James Hunter, England

No, it's never too soon to go up, especially with the finances involved in the Premier League these days. If you do things properly then, even if you go straight back down the parachute payments make it worth your while - look at West Brom for an example.

Nottm Forest 1-0 Newcastle

Highlights - Nottm Forest 1-0 Newcastle (UK users only)

People might be saying that to James because they have seen what happened to Forest boss Billy Davies before, when he took Derby up and, let's be honest he didn't do well in the Premier League with them.

He bought some poor players and the team wasn't good enough. Alright, the team might have got relegated anyway but not the way they did.

So Billy has still got an awful lot to prove, but he got Derby out of the Championship and he did a good job at Preston too. You can't knock him for that.

He is getting some good results with Forest and, if he gets them up then that is a great achievement.


Steve Claridge is a BBC Football League pundit who played more than 800 matches for 15 clubs over the course of a 24-year playing career. He was talking to Chris Bevan.



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