JOHN Coleman’s heart must surely have sunk when he heard the news that Keith Hill had been sacked by Barnsley. He would have known what it meant.

Fast forward three weeks and yesterday it was Hill who predictably replaced the former Accrington Stanley boss as the manager of Rochdale. Most saw it coming.

Coleman’s time at Spotland had been difficult since he decided to end 13-and-a-half highly successful years in charge of Stanley and take his chances in League One.

He didn’t want to be Ken Barlow, he told staff when he left Accrington. He didn’t want to be the man who spent all of his managerial career in one place and be left wondering whether he could have cut it at a higher level.

But his gamble did not pay off.

He lasted three days short of a year at Rochdale.

Coleman could not prevent them from slipping back to League Two at the end of last term, and they now sit 14th in the fourth tier.

Already under pressure, Hill’s sacking at Barnsley exacerbated the situation. Rochdale had an obvious alternative, available and popular with the fans after guiding the club into League One during his previous spell at Spotland.

Unsurprisingly, it was an alternative Dale eventually decided to pursue.

It now remains to be seen whether Coleman’s Rochdale exit will have a similar effect at his former club Stanley.

Coleman would not want his availability to put added pressure on friend Leam Richardson, manager of Accrington, but it could do.

Stanley chief executive Rob Heys had been keen to stress recently that Richardson was under no pressure from the board over the Reds’ recent slide into relegation trouble, after just one win in 12 games. But already fans are discussing whether they would want Coleman to return, should Stanley’s fight against the drop become ever more worrying.

Some see him as a potential saviour, if required. Others would rather the club looked forward with Richardson, not back with Coleman.

Most agree though that the best solution would be for Richardson to turn results around quickly, meaning the decision would never need to be made.

Richardson is a good man and a popular figure.

Everyone wants him to succeed, and hopefully he can do just that.