Replacing Sutton: the front runners

—Tom Farmery and Bradley King contributed with this report

Now that Chris Sutton and Ian Pearce have left Lincoln attention turns to who will become the next City manager. When Peter Jackson left the Imps in 2009 there were over 70 applications for the job and at the time Chris Sutton was not the outright favourite for the hot seat.

A few names that have emerged so far for the job are: Gary Brabin, Steve Thompson, Paul Ince, Martin Foyle, Mark Cooper, and Mick Harford.


Mick Harford is one of the frontrunners for the Imps hotseat which is vacant after the departure of Chris Sutton. Photo: l3nnon1975 via Flickr

Gary Brabin

Brabin’s managerial experience is limited to Southport and Cambridge United yet the current assistant manager of Luton Town could be tempted to make the move up to league football.  He was tipped to get the job when Peter Jackson parted company with Lincoln in 2009. The Liverpool-born manager is, however, said to be happy at the Hatters and move to Sincil Bank, although not unlikely, seems to be off the cards for now.

Steve Thompson

Thompson managed Lincoln from 1990-1993 and also had two stints playing at the club as a central defender. Many City fans are used to listening to the 55-year-old summerising Imps games on BBC Lincolnshire. The last managerial position that he held was at Notts County for a year between 2006 and 2007. Three years on will he want to take the chance at a club where he is held in high regard? Well, quite possibly, but it still remains to be seen especially as he may not be the favoured man for the job.

Martin Foyle

Foyle is regarded as a strong possibility for the job after he resigned from his manager’s job at York City only days earlier. He doesn’t have any direct link with Lincoln City, but given his current situation Sincil Bank could become his new office very soon. When he was at York he came very close to success, particularly last season when he guided them to the Conference play-off final that ultimately resulted in defeat to Oxford United.

Paul Ince

Former England international Ince has been out of work since leaving Milton Keynes Dons at the end of last season. Successful spells at Macclesfield and MK Dons earned Ince a move to the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers. His time there was disappointing and left the club citing the lack of financial backing he received — despite spending over £10 million during his short stay. Ince would be a popular appointment with Imps fans, but he would demand massive wages and a large transfer budget, even if he is even interested in the post.

Mark Cooper

Cooper impressed as manager at non-league Tamworth and Kettering, catching the eye of Darragh MacAnthony and the Peterborough board. The Championship proved too large a step for Cooper to take, as he couldn’t revitalise the faltering form of the Posh, parting ways with the club after just 12 games. He recently signed a two-year deal at Blue Square Premier side Darlington, but could be tempted back into league football — at the expense of hefty compensation on City’s part.

Mick Harford

Having started his 21-year playing career at Sincil Bank, Harford already has knowledge of the local area. His 40 goals for the club in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s are still fondly remembered by Imps fans. But his managerial experience has been mixed. The twice capped England man has performed admirably in caretaker positions at several clubs and led Luton to a Football League Trophy win in 2009. But a 17 game winless run in charge of League One Rotherham United in 2005 caused him to be sacked. Harford’s last job was to steady the ship at the hectic QPR and he would be the choice of many Lincoln supporters.

10 Responses to Replacing Sutton: the front runners

  1. Joel Murray says:

    Harford would be my choice. He hasn’t been as inconsistent as Ince but still has good experience at big clubs such as QPR.

    However, Thompson’s knowledge of the club from commentary and past experience could lead him to be able to do something. I think Sutton’s contacts will be missed but I’m not sure if he was really ever up to the job?

  2. Adie Bell says:

    I’d be looking at Steve Tilson, Jim Gannon or Dave Penney, managers who know how to get out of this league

  3. Dale Ricketts says:

    A name not mentioned is John Pemberton. He was very close to getting the job last year, with Sutton stepping in at the last minute and snatching the managers office chair from underneath him. He is the head coach at the Sheffield United Academy these days but could be tempted to step into a managerial role at a league club… provided he can put aside any hard feelings regarding the appointment of Sutton ‘in extra time’ last year.

  4. Dean Burley says:

    I would agree with those Adie. Cooper BTW is in charge at Darlington. Unlikely to be a candidate.

  5. Tom Farmery says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    Dean – Just addressing your point. What would stop Mark Cooper moving back in to the Football League? Ok, as he’s signed a two-year deal (which would mean an amount of compensation to Darlington) with the Quakers but if the job is offered to him I would expect that he’d take it.

    Dale – I remember this time last year he had just finished a stint managing Notts Forest as caretaker, which may have been why he caught the board’s eye. Yet at this stage anyone with particular know-how is a possibility and it’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out.

    Adie – Looking away from who could take over the managerial position. Don’t Lincoln, at this moment in time, need someone who can keep them in the league?

    Joel – We’re thinking of Mick Harford as the favourite but as last year proved, with Sutton outside of the running altogether, you cannot assume or expect anything.

  6. Andy Hawkins says:

    As a Luton fan, I hope you don’t get Brabin, and as a neutral I hope you don’t get Harford. Yes we won the JPT with him in 2009, but how much was down to him is unknown. Harford is an excellent assistant but not sure how capable he is in charge. A lot of good candidates though. Also I understand that Foyle left York to be with his family in Stoke, so a move to Lincoln would surely leave him in a similar situation. Best of luck anyway

  7. Bradley King says:

    Must say I didn’t know that about Foyle- that seems to rule him out then. I like the sound of Steve Tilson, I think he did an excellent job under difficult circumstances at Southend. Jim Gannon would also be an excellent appointment if he was willing to drop down the divisions.

    Thanks for the comment Andy.

  8. Thomas Harris says:

    As a Luton Town fan having witnessed the management of Mick Harford and to some extent Gary Brabin, I would say that Mick Harford is a very good manager with particularly brilliant man management skills where he brought some really top players to the club such as the return of Kevin Nichols etc… however I feel that his tactical knowledge lacks. However having watched some of the highlights of Lincoln’s games it would seem that the most important thing for you guys is to get a good passing rhythm going which in the time that Mick was in charge of Luton was very good and clear for the fans to see.

    Gary Brabin would also be a good choice but he is in work at the moment as the assistant manager and I believe is being groomed for the manager’s position should things not go well. But it will be interesting to see if the lure of a league side and the title of “The Boss” would persuade him to leave.

    However in my opinion Mick Harford would be a good choice for Lincoln City – also because my girlfriend is a Grimsby fan and I want them to do as badly as possible and Lincoln to do as well as possible.

    Good luck with who ever you recruit.

  9. Bradley King says:

    Thanks for your comment Thomas.

    Do you think Brabin would stick around at Luton even if he was approached? His odds have lengthened but do you think that he would rather sit tight at Luton who will surely inevitably get back into the Football League rather than take a risk at what is arguably a stagnant club which has limited potential?

  10. Thomas says:

    Well thats the big question isn’t it. Personally having seen him week in week out it seems as tho he is enjoying his job and gets on well with our manager. However my gut feeling to your question is that he wants to be the boss and if it dosnt happen he would be tempted away from luton. Also the lure of being in the football league is one that many managers would relish no matter who they are employed by within the conference. So i think if Lincoln decide that Gary Brabin is the man they want then i think they could tempt him away from luton.