Management role sees Gary Alexander’s Crawley Town career come full circle

New set up. Gary Alexander (left) and Martin Hinshelwood have taken up the Reds reins. Below celebrating with Jamie Proctor earlier this season.
New set up. Gary Alexander (left) and Martin Hinshelwood have taken up the Reds reins. Below celebrating with Jamie Proctor earlier this season.

Things turnaround quickly in football.

On Tuesday night, immediately after a 0-0 home draw with Swindon Town, Richie Barker was talking about getting the team ready to take to Crewe this Saturday. Less then 24 hours later he had been relieved of his duties.

Crawley V Coventry (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Crawley V Coventry (Pic by Jon Rigby)

An even better case in point perhaps is Gary Alexander’s eventful Crawley Town career.

Signed from Brentford in March 2012, the striker scored a vital seven goals in 14 games to help fire Reds to League Two promotion.

By the following January the then club captain was loaned out to AFC Wimbledon, his surprise move coming on the final day of the transfer window.

When he returned to the Broadfield at the end of the season there were murmurs the 34-year-old was surplus to requirements and he has since found playing opportunities limited, starting just six games this term.

But Wednesday’s dramatic sacking of Barker has afforded a different opportunity to the travelled frontman with the offer of a first management role at the Broadfield alongside the club’s chief scout Martin Hinshelwood.

The pair have been placed in ‘interim’ charge of First Team affairs, perhaps only for Saturday, perhaps for longer.

Though in Thursday’s quickly arranged press conference Reds CEO Michael Dunford intimated the duo, either individually or as a pair would be considered for the job long term if they prove a success.

One thing that seems clear is no one has yet been lined up to fill the role with Mr Dunford stressing: “We haven’t changed the management team with someone specifically in mind,” while adding about the pair: “If they happen to be the best management team then they’ll be appointed.”

Alexander made no secret of his desire to go into management when he does hang his boots us but admitted this chance had come sooner then he’d expected.

“It’s disappointing what’s happened, it always is when you lose a manager,” he said. “I’ve been working at my badges and the time came yesterday when I was asked and it’s something I want to do in the future.

“I’m coming to the end of my career and it’s something I want to do. It’s probably come a little earlier then I expected but it’s something that, as soon as I was offered it I said ‘yeah I’d love to do it’, and to work alongside a man as experienced as Hinch can only be good for me.”

With both men sharing team selection, Alexander said he would rather carry out his new role on the sidelines, maybe putting himself on the bench with the squad so small. Details to be ironed out in the coming days and weeks.

One thing Alexander does have on his side is he’s plenty battle-hardened, having made nearly 500 Football League appearances, scoring over 150 goals.

Alongside him, Hinshelwood has plenty of experience as a caretaker manager having held the position no fewer than five times during a 14-year spell at Brighton & Hove Albion and briefly the manager’s role.

Hinting there would be few changes to the side picked for Crewe with the words: ‘if it’s not really broken why try to mend it’, Hinshelwood said: “We’re looking forward to Saturday, I think we’ve been through eight different teams already.

And adding they weren’t looking further then the next match he said: “I love football and the opportunity to work for Gary, if it goes on then great. But I’ve been in the game long enough not to worry about what might happen, we’ll just be positive on Saturday.”

But with Barker apparently let go simply based on poor results, Mr Dunford gave a stark indication of just where the bar of expectation now sits when he said: “Are we ever going to accept being a middle of the table team? No we’re not, no football club’s going to accept mid-table.

“We’ve only been in this division two years and done remarkably well, but we want to move on.

“So there was a feeling that a change of manager would suit that better.

“It will remain to be seen whether that’s true, there’s no guarantees in this game.”