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Next Forest Green Rovers Manager Odds: Who could replace Rob Edwards?

Who will lead Forest Green Rovers in League One?
(Pictured: Former Lincoln manager Michael Appleton)
Who will lead Forest Green Rovers in League One? (Pictured: Former Lincoln manager Michael Appleton)

Days after they lifted the League Two trophy at the conclusion of a truly memorable and historic season, the brutal nature of football smacked Forest Green Rovers square in the face on Wednesday when their popular and transformative title-winning manager, Rob Edwards, was lured over to Watford.

Edwards, in his first senior job in management, had repaid the faith shown in him by Forest Green last summer. The young boss stamped his mark on the club, where he implemented his own 3-4-1-2 system, improved players, and employed an attractive style of high-tempo, high-scoring, winning football which led to a first ever promotion up to the third-tier.

Edwards’ stunning impact not only secured the title but on an individual level won him the League Two Manager of the Year award, achievements that didn’t go unnoticed elsewhere in the football pyramid.

The former England and Wolves coach will now become the latest in a long, and ever changing, conveyor-belt of Watford managers. He’ll replace Roy Hodgson in the summer after the veteran boss failed to keep the Hornets in the Premier League. His task is simple: re-energise the club, play a style of football that excites the fans, and win promotion back to the Premier League.

Easier said than done of course, especially with trigger-happy owners such as the Pozzo’s as your employers.

So while Watford have recruited an exciting young manager, what’s next for Forest Green Rovers?

The club are absolutely gutted, illustrated in their statement on Wednesday:

“We’re disappointed that our support, loyalty and honesty towards Rob has been repaid in this way - with negotiations taking place behind our backs.

“We had no contact from Watford, from whom we might expect less, but in any event this kind of behaviour gives football a bad name.

“We thank Rob for all his work at FGR - forgive him the manner of his departure and wish him well.”

While it won’t feel like it right now, at least the switch didn’t happen at the end of the summer, meaning the club have time on their side as they bid to find a manager to lead their first season in League One.

But who?

Football Tips

This isn’t a club that merely wants to survive in League One, with the Championship the well-publicised ambition for owner Dale Vince.

Personally, I like the look of Michael Appleton who is currently available at 8/1 with BetVictor.

Not only does Appleton have experience in and knowledge of League One, he's also available for hire having left Lincoln at the end of the season.

Appleton fought through adversity in the early stages of his managerial career, which included short-lived spells at Blackpool and Blackburn, to go on and lead Oxford to promotion into League One. He followed this up with an immensely impressive 8th place finish and also took the club to two cup finals.

In his next managerial position Appleton returned to the third-tier where he sparked a promotion push after overhauling the playing squad at Lincoln, who reached the play-off final, where they agonisingly lost out to Blackpool.

Lincoln were unable to bounce back from that disappointment, finishing 17th the season just gone, with both club and manager parting ways.

The chance of a fresh challenge at a club on the rise, could well appeal to the former Leicester assistant manager should he wish to make a swift return to management.

Still only 40, Lee Johnson (8/1) has been an EFL manager for nearly a decade now. He has plenty of League One experience from spells at Sunderland, Oldham, and Barnsley, while he managed Bristol City in the Championship for over four years.

He too, is unattached right now, having suffered the sack in January at Sunderland, who at the time were third in the table.

Bear in mind though that both Appleton and Johnson are being linked with multiple posts right now, including Hibernian where they are believed to be serious contenders.

Could Lee Johnson be an option?
Could Lee Johnson be an option?

Following on from the success of Edwards, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see Forest Green adopt a similar approach in their recruitment of a new manager.

There are plenty of U23s bosses, young coaches, and assistant managers craving the step-up into the top-job who could be on the club’s radar; from Brian Barry-Murphy at Man City’s Elite Development Squad and Man Utd's Head of Player Development Justin Cochrane, to England U19s head coach Ian Foster (33/1) and Nottingham Forest’s second in command Steven Reid (20/1).

AFC Wimbledon-linked Johnnie Jackson (16/1) has just become available after his surprise Charlton exit, ex-Middlesbrough and Bournemouth boss Jonathan Woodgate is unemployed, we’ve seen Michael Carrick mentioned in regards to the Lincoln job, while Frank Lampard’s former assistant Jody Morris could well be an option.

Maybe they could look to the division they’ve just come from? Matt Gray has done a superb job at Sutton as have Jon Brady at Northampton and Darrell Clarke/Andy Crosby at Port Vale - although the two latter clubs are now fully focused on the play-offs.

Michael Carrick has been linked with Lincoln
Michael Carrick has been linked with Lincoln

It’s a big jump up to League One but Vince isn’t someone who is afraid to take risks. With that in mind Forest Green may well decide to dip into the National League’s managerial pool. 

Ian Burchnall, 39, currently leads the betting market at 2/1. Burchnall has coached in Scandinavia where he replaced Graham Potter at Ostersund FK, before returning to England in March 2021 to manage Notts County, who are pushing for promotion up into the Football League and have won plaudits for their style of play.

We’ve previously spoken of Luke Garrard (33/1) when running through various EFL manager markets this season, and the Boreham Wood boss could now well find himself in the mix for yet another job, although he has only just penned a new deal. 

Halifax’s Pete Wild could be one to consider too.

Alternatively, there are plenty of seasoned EFL campaigners looking for a new opportunity, including Tony Mowbray, Paul Tisdale, Paul Lambert, Simon Grayson, Chris Hughton, and Kenny Jackett.

Full next manager odds can be found below, while you can vote on our manager poll right here.

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