Next Rochdale Manager Odds: Four candidates for the full-time job
Rochdale need a new permanent manager after parting company with Jim Bentley.
With the Lancashire club 10 points adrift of safety at the bottom of League Two, Jim McNulty has been placed in interim charge of the team until the end of the season.
But, who could be the long-term replacement for Bentley?
EFL pundit Gab Sutton looks at four potential candidates for the permanent job...
Rochdale have gone public on their stance that McNulty will get until the end of the season to manage the team, before a decision is made in the summer as to who leads the club into next season, likely to be in the National League.
Dale may feel, perhaps, that it’ll be difficult to get the calibre of manager they want in this predicament when the next boss risks adding a relegation to their CV.
Conversely, during the appointment process that ultimately got them Jim Bentley, they told interviewed candidates that they think highly of McNulty and simply didn’t feel he was ready for the job at the time.
At this stage, they are willing to give him the opportunity to show what he can do, with survival feeling like a long shot.
Having represented the club for eight years, McNulty has a connection with supporters and knowledge of the first-team squad.
McNulty will look to build around the solidity of Altrincham recruit Toby Mullarkey, the creativity of midfielder Ethan Brierley, the ball-carrying of Abraham Odoh and the poaching nous of Ian Henderson, hoping they can create enough chances for the club legend to finish the season in good goalscoring form.
McNulty will be committed to getting the best out of Brierley, especially, and knows that doing so will be crucial to any slim chances of beating the drop.
The 19-year-old is set to move to Blackburn in the summer, and has lit up a poor side this season with his ability to demand the ball off the defence under pressure, turn an opponent and play forward.
Bentley didn’t get the best out of Brierley, because for large parts of the season he didn’t start the 5’6” playmaker, perhaps perceiving him to be not strong enough for a relegation dogfight and lacking in stamina.
And, when the academy graduate did start, the style of play wasn’t conducive to getting the best out of him.
McNulty, we can expect, will get the team playing through Brierley, and attempting to create chances from there.
If Rochdale want a last roll of the dice to give themselves the best possible chance of preserving 102 years of Football League history, Keith Hill might be the best option.
Of course, Hill might not be the inspirational manager he was back in 2017, when he led the Lancashire club to a remarkable three successive top-half League One finishes.
The Mancunian kept Dale up on the final day of 2017-18, before parting company towards the end of the following campaign, when Brian Barry-Murphy ultimately saved them from a difficult position.
Since then, Hill has struggled in difficult external circumstances at Bolton and Scunthorpe, either side of a stint at Tranmere where he delivered results on paper, but didn’t endear himself so much to supporters, and was sacked - unusually - just before the Play-Offs.
Rochdale might not be getting the peak version of Hill, but if they need someone to come in and galvanize the town for one last push to save the club’s EFL status, he could be the man.
Gary McSheffrey is looking to go back into management after a tough stint at Doncaster, where he was unable to turn the tide after Richie Wellens left midway through last season and oversaw relegation, before leaving in October of this campaign.
It’s worth noting, though, that Donny averaged 1.5 points per game under McSheffrey, and have since dropped to 1.25 since his departure.
Results alone don’t always tell the full story, but it’s fair to say that McSheffrey’s work can be looked on more favourably in retrospect.
Parts of the Donny fanbase claimed, in the summer, that finishing outside the top seven is inexcusable, which on reflection was a little too demanding, when what the club really needed was a rebuilding period.
The club had deep-rooted structural issues, cracks which good use of the loan market papered over under Grant McCann and Darren Moore, when the club challenged for the League One Play-Offs for three consecutive seasons.
Eventually, the quality of the loans dropped and that was where the club got found out for poor recruitment, and limited infrastructure, and questionable ownership.
Various issues meant Richie Wellens, a manager who could now be on course to win a second league title of his six-year career, couldn’t get results in League One, nor can a talented coach in Danny Schofield, in League Two.
With that in mind, comfortable top-half form seems more impressive now that most of the fanbase realize the club is in crisis, and so McSheffrey deserves to be in the conversation for a second opportunity – and the chance to rebuild Rochdale, likely in the National League.
Sheffield Wednesday’s Youth Development Phase Manager has worked with various different age groups in his coaching career, up to Under-23s, and may not be far off starting his journey in senior football.
The former Sheffield United Academy coach has developed the likes of Regan Slater, now thriving in the Championship with Hull, and has an extensive book of contacts that includes Manchester United’s Academy Director, Nick Cox, with whom he worked at Bramall Lane.
Broadbent is passionate about developing young players, having done so successfully throughout his career so far, and is committed to his sides playing aggressive, attacking football.
The 37-year-old sees football as an entertainment industry, and wants his teams to be worth the admission fee.
Plus, Broadbent’s knowledge of the youth scene across the nation is as good as anyone’s, and his contacts offer increased opportunities for top loan deals from Barnsley, Bradford and anywhere across the Steel City.
Attracting interest from abroad, the young, bright coach is willing to relocate as appropriate and prepared to work anywhere in the UK.
While he doesn’t yet have first-hand experience of senior management, he can also come at the role from a fresh angle and bring a different energy into the club, like John Mousinho, for instance, has done for Portsmouth.
At a difficult time for Rochdale, they need someone who isn’t burdened by the recent past, or intimidated by current challenges: rather, someone who can come in and bring the building to life.