Troy Deeney has been sacked after just six games and 29 days in charge of Forest Green Rovers.
The head coach was dismissed following a run of three defeats and three draws at the League Two club where he had been a player-coach.
Deeney, 35, was handed an extraordinary four-game touchline ban and fined £1,500 earlier in the day after being sent off during the fixture against Swindon Town last month which was only his second match on the touchline. He was found guilty of verbally abusing an official.
There was also a huge furore following Saturday’s loss at home to Harrogate Town, which was the focus of a behind-the-scenes feature by Telegraph Sport, after which he called out his squad for having “too many babies” in it, said he would rather watch the “Antiques Roadshow” than his team and singled out defender Fankaty Dabo saying he would be lucky to get a game in the National League.
Deeney later apologised saying his emotions “can get the better of him” but he was also criticised on Thursday morning by Forest Green owner Dale Vince in a sign of what was to come later in the day.
“I think it was just wrong to talk about the players in that way,” Vince said. “Some of the things he said were just wrong. They were harsh, they were wrong and I don’t think that is the way to coach a team of people, to bring a team of people together.”
Deeney has been working hard to bring in new players with five signings so far this window including midfielder Emmanuel Osadebe who arrived just hours before the sacking.
The former Watford striker succeeded David Horseman, who was sacked on Dec 20. Forest Green are now looking for their sixth coach in less than two years as they try not to fall out of the Football League.
I watched Deeney work – he has a passion to win but must temper his conduct
Forest Green Rovers will not be Deeney’s only shot at management. It cannot be given he is 35, had only six games in charge and that he has a burning desire to succeed.
The problem is Deeney will have to temper some of his conduct. He certainly had his work cut out at Forest Green Rovers, the struggling club at the bottom of League Two where he was flung in at the deep end and had to turn around a bunch of underperforming players.
I know. I went down to shadow Deeney for two days last week – Friday and Saturday, which culminated in the poor 2-0 defeat at home to Harrogate Town. It was an access-all-areas piece, designed to shine the light on a young manager making his way in trying circumstances. I wanted to see everything and, as promised, nothing was hidden from me and hopefully my piece was balanced and reflected that. I am grateful to everyone at Forest Green, and especially Deeney and his assistant David Kelly, for their candour and openness.
But it was clear it was not really working. Things had to change. Deeney was desperately trying to motivate a squad and was making a flurry of new signings and no-one could doubt his work ethic and determination to succeed. He was giving it everything to turn things around.
Deeney has always been a plain dealer, a straight talker. He is undoubtedly authentic in his behaviour – and should not lose that - and does not hold back. It helped make him the compelling personality he was as a striker, maximising his career, as a media personality and as a manager.
The problem is whether that sometimes goes too far as Deeney undoubtedly did in calling out his players so brutally after the Harrogate loss. It was absolutely born out of frustration, not malice, and I was standing next to him as he talked to the local BBC radio station so I know. But it was harsh to publicly pull apart defender Dabo, for which he later apologised.
Deeney needs to strike a balance and that would be my advice to him. In fairness he was dealing with a squad that appeared to be demotivated and at a lowest ebb. I have been around many football dressing rooms and it was the flattest and quietest I had ever witnessed and something had to change. The only fight was coming from Deeney – and he was directing that at his own players.
He needs to not lose that fire but he needs to filter it. It is impossible to sustain a constant criticism but although, clearly, Deeney believed he was trying to provoke a reaction from the players it felt more like they were actually switching off.
In saying that, Forest Green need to take a long hard look as to why they made the appointment in the first place and, crucially, whether they also gave him not only the chance to succeed but the necessary support.