Shaun Derry Leaves Cambridge United
Shaun Derry was relieved of his duties as Cambridge United’s Head Coach following a 0-0 draw at home to Lincoln City on Friday night. Derry leaves with the U’s sat in 14th in the league and twelve points away from both the play-offs and the relegation zone. Arguably, this is a decision which had been a long time coming, and pressure on the former Notts County boss had increased massively after a poor run of recent form, during which United have failed to win in 2018.
Derry was appointed in November 2015 following the departure of Richard Money, and despite a promising end to the 2015/16 season, Cambridge have never looked like a side that are likely to trouble the top end of the league too much under his stewardship. The highlight of Derry’s tenure, many will think, was the FA Cup run in 2016/17, which saw Cambridge reach the third round, where they bowed out to Leeds United, a match which was played out in front of both the TV cameras and a sold out Abbey Stadium.
The news that Derry had left the club coincides with Paul Barry becoming the majority shareholder, and essentially owner, of Cambridge United, so it would appear that Barry will be looking to move forward with his own man at the helm. It has been all change in CB5 over recent weeks and months, after chairman Dave Doggett resigned in December, and then the departures of CEO Jez George and Shaun Derry confirmed on Friday.
The ‘Head of Football’ at Cambridge United, Graham Daniels, revealed that the decision to part company with Derry had been made earlier in the week following discussions about the best way to move the club forward under the aforementioned new ownership, and so credit must go to Shaun Derry for remaining professional, and taking charge of the U’s for their match against Lincoln.
Who will be the next Cambridge United manager?
Focus will now turn towards who will succeed Derry at the Abbey, with assistant coaches Joe Dunne and Mark Bonner taking interim charge of first team affairs while the decision is made.
Graham Daniels suggested that the next few games will serve as something of a ‘job interview’ for Dunne and Bonner, as he commented that it is a partnership which ‘could work’.
Daniels also emphasised the need for patience, and the need to ensure that the appointment of the next Cambridge United Head Coach must be the right appointment for the long term future of the club, rather than just a quick fix.
So, Dunne and Bonner aside, who else could be in line to take over at The Abbey? The bookies have suggested a number of names including Phil Brown, Gary Caldwell and Robbie Neilson, who are all priced at 8/1 currently, while the likes of Stuart McCall, Mark Sampson and John Sheridan are also included in the betting, albeit at longer odds.
It could be said that there are three approaches to making an appointment: tried & tested, up & coming, or “knows the club”. In terms of the tried and tested approach, someone in the mould of a Phil Brown, who has achieved promotions at numerous levels during his career, would appear to be a popular choice among many fans. Alternatively, United could look towards a younger coach with more potential, similar to the approach they took when Derry was initially appointed, and if this is to be the case, the U’s could either go for an ex-player looking to make their way in management, or they could look to the lower leagues, and in this case, Matt Clements, current manager at St. Neots Town has been groomed by some as a possible future boss at The Abbey. There is always the suggestion of a club ‘legend’ taking charge, too, and the likes of Dion Dublin and Luke Chadwick are always brought into the conversation when it comes to potential future managers, although their desire and/or qualifications to do so is possibly rather questionable.
All in all, it is fair to say that the next few months are going to be rather interesting at The Abbey, with a new owner, new manager, and the departure of many long-term, and rather significant members of the senior management at the club.
words Tom Walker, D3D4 Cambridge United correspondent