Baraclough was unable to turn around Scunthorpe's troubled season
By Laurie Fitzgerald
With just eight or nine games remaining for Championship sides this season, the battles for the prospective promotion spots and against the relegation places get tenser than ever.
While the battle for automatic promotion and the play-offs remain tight, there is a gap that has opened up at the bottom of the table.
Sheffield United, Scunthorpe and Preston find themselves at least five points adrift of fourth from bottom Crystal Palace and in danger of being cut adrift.
For Scunthorpe, it has been a campaign where numerous setbacks have taken their toll, having done so well to establish themselves in the second tier of English football.
Recent weeks have seen six league defeats in seven games, and manager Ian Baraclough wasn’t able to arrest the slide, resulting in him losing his job.
The supporters know that when it comes to resources available to their club, they are more limited than any other side in the division.
So when they secured their second successive season at this level for the first time in almost 50 years, there must have been huge pride around Glanford Park.
But the summer saw Scunthorpe suffer the disappointing exits of Paul Hayes and Gary Hooper, a strikeforce that had proved pivotal in their survival the season before.
Nigel Adkins had proven throughout his time as manager that he is not a stranger to overcoming adversity, and the former physio, and after six games the Iron’s found themselves in the play-off positions.
But his terrific work wasn’t going unnoticed; League One side Southampton had just controversially sacked Alan Pardew and wanted Adkins as their replacement. The 46 year-old was unable to turn down such an opportunity.
The departure of Adkins was a massive blow to Scunthorpe. They now had to find someone capable of performing the same sort of results despite the limitations within the squad and finances.
Former defender and first-team coach Baraclough was handed the reins on a temporary basis, and things started brilliantly with a 4-0 win away at Sheffield United.
This was enough for Chairman J. Stephen Warton to give the 40 year-old his first full job in management. However, he would soon discover just what Adkins had to overcome.
With Hooper and Hayes gone, Martyn Woolford had taken up the baulk of the goalscoring responsibilities, but the midfielder was sold to Bristol City in January.
Their striking options were limited further when Jonathan Forte joined Adkins at St. Mary’s, and what was a thin squad already now looked short of attacking options.
Lee Miller and Joe Garner were loaned in to fill the void, but this hasn’t prevented performances from gradually getting worse as the campaign developed.
Heavy defeats at home to Hull, Leicester and relegation rivals Preston took their toll, and Walton decided that another managerial change was necessary, but this time it was his.
With Baraclough gone, the new manager will have to find a way to find confidence in a squad that’s conceded more goals and scored fewer than any other side in the Championship.
While it currently looks unlikely, if there is one club that is able to defy the odds and overcoming numerous setbacks then it’s Scunthorpe. This season has been a prime example of that.
What do you think? What is the main reason as to Scunthorpe’s struggles this season? Was it the loss of Adkins, or would anyone have struggled with the resources available to them and numerous sales of key players? Let us know your views in the comments section below