Ian Foster: Plymouth Argyle head coach sacked after three months in charge

Plymouth Argyle have sacked head coach Ian Foster after just three months in the job.

The former England Under-20s boss has been in charge of the Championship club since early January after Steven Schumacher left for Stoke City.

After an initial good start, Argyle's form fell away drastically over the past two months as they won just one of 11 Championship games.

The slump has left Argyle one place and one point off the relegation places.

Director of Football Neil Dewsnip and first-team coach Kevin Nancekivell will take charge of the team for the remainder of the season.

First team coach Simon Ireland and goalkeeping coach Daryl Flahavan - who joined the club under Foster - will stay on their roles.

"Ian was hired through a thorough and extensive recruitment process and his coaching credentials really stood out when making the appointment," chairman Simon Hallett said in a statement on the club website.

"But we have to balance long-term stability against short-term decisions, and we have given Ian as long as possible to see if results could improve.

"Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case, and we feel now is the right time to make a change to give us the best chance of securing survival."

Poor form seals Foster's fate

Argyle's 1-0 loss to Bristol City at Home Park on Easter Monday was their fifth successive home game without a goal. In two of those games they failed to register a shot on target, leading to calls from some supporters for Foster to go.

Foster, who left his role as Steven Gerrard's assistant at Saudi Arabian side Al Ettifaq to take over at Argyle, was unbeaten in his first five games in charge of the side as he led Argyle to wins over Sutton United in the FA Cup and victories over Cardiff City and Swansea City.

But following an extra-time loss to Leeds United in an FA Cup fourth-round replay, a 2-0 win at Middlesbrough and two draws were the only positive results in the following 11 league games.

Immediately after the Bristol City loss Foster said he had had no discussions with the Argyle board about his future in the role, or any concerns that the club might seek a new head coach.

"Nobody's happy when you don't win a game of football - this is our lives and our livelihoods," Foster told BBC Radio Devon.

"We're fighting and that's the key thing. We're not a group who take things lightly, we're not a group that give in, we're not a group who look for excuses.

"We take responsibility and we'll try our best to go again."

January exits

Foster's hand was not helped by a number of key loan players leaving soon after his arrival.

Finn Azaz was recalled by Aston Villa and sold to Middlesbrough, while Luke Cundle joined Stoke after returning to Wolves.

But he mainly brought in inexperienced youngsters on loan to replace the platers he lost, while he failed to get goals out of previously free-scoring Ryan Hardie and Morgan Whittaker over the past two months.

Foster he has also cut an isolated figure at times - he has only just recently brought in a first-team coach in former Huddersfield coach Ireland - and relied heavily on the staff still at the club after Schumacher's departure.

Foster's tenure is the shortest of any permanent Argyle boss - only Steve McCall's 15-game spell in long-term caretaker charge before Neil Warnock took over between January and March 1995 was shorter.


Brent Pilnick, BBC Sport

Plymouth Argyle's decision to go with a man who had never been the number one with a men's senior side was seen as a bit of a gamble at the time.

But with his success with England Under-20s and the accomplishments of other England youth coaches such as Steve Cooper and Rob Edwards, the club could be forgiven for thinking they were hiring someone who could offer similar success.

But after an initial good start, Argyle's form has faded badly. A lack of goals has been synonymous with a side that has lost its attacking impetus.

Foster was not helped by losing players such as Azaz and Cundle in January, but replacements that he knew from his time with England Under-20's like Alfie Devine and Darko Gyabi have not had the same impact.

Having seemed like shoo-ins to stay in the Championship just two months ago, Argyle must now act quickly to find a replacement that can keep them in the division less than a year after winning League One with a club-record 101 points.