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An abrupt end to Cook's brief Accrington Stanley reign
JOHN Coleman spent almost 13 years as Accrington Stanley boss, but the reign of replacement Paul Cook has ended almost as soon as it began.
Coleman’s former first-team coach gave up his job as manager of Irish side Sligo Rovers to take over as Stanley boss in February, but there was always a feeling that Cook saw the role as a stepping stone.
The 45-year-old was desperate for a route into Football League management, but was clearly ambitious to move up the ladder as soon as possible.
That Cook should decide to depart after only eight months to join Chesterfield has been a surprise to some for two reasons.
Many Reds fans had hoped he would stay at the Crown Ground for longer, rather than join a club just three places above Stanley in League Two.
Cook, though, had privately spoken earlier this season about his budget limitations in comparison to a number of clubs in the division – Chesterfield being among those he mentioned at the time. The greater facilities at the Spireites’ new Proact Stadium were also something Stanley could not match.
Chesterfield’s decision to target him was not expected by many of the Derbyshire club’s fans either.
Cook clearly showed great potential at Sligo but it was too early to make a clear verdict of his time at Stanley. There were promising signs, and the Reds were starting to punch above their weight when they took 17 points from their first nine games this season to sit fourth in the table.
Crucially, in the middle of that run, Stanley produced a fine performance of flowing football at Chesterfield.
Even though defensive lapses saw the Reds lose 4-3, home fans called it the best display they had seen from an opposing side this season. The Spireites board clearly took note.
Stanley’s momentum has stalled badly in the last fortnight, though, with four straight defeats seeing them slip to 16th in the table.
Cook’s overall record in charge at the Crown Ground included 18 defeats compared to only eight wins.
The final three months of last season were seen as preparation for this term, with a mid-table finish always looking on the cards.
Both the board and the fans would have wanted to keep Cook, who was fondly remembered from his playing days with the club and could have delivered success to the Reds.
Unfortunately, unlike his predecessor, he was not Stanley boss long enough for anyone to find out.
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