Is Alexander the answer for Scunthorpe?


Graham Alexander –

Mark Robins was severely disliked by a lot of Scunthorpe fans. He was criticized for poor recruitment, playing players out of position and above all, overly defensive tactics. Robins was sacked at the beginning of January, giving way to an 11 game period under caretaker boss Nick Daws, who also had defensive tendencies. The board’s decision, now, is to give the manager’s job to Graham Alexander.

At first glance, this looks a good appointment. Alexander managed Fleetwood to promotion, albeit with a generous budget, guiding the club to a ninth place finish in their first ever season in the third tier. However, he did those things with a defensive approach, making cautious substitutions and prioritizing discipline over attacking freedom. The central question, therefore, is not whether Alexander is a good manager, but whether he is the manager that Scunthorpe need.

Part of the reason Robins failed to unify the club, and convert budgetary advantages into a sustained play-off push, is down to the way he set his team up. Alexander’s approach is not dissimilar to that of Robins. The main advantage the new boss has is that he came through the club’s academy in the early 90s and went on to play 159 games at Glanford Park. Perhaps, the 44-year-old’s Scunthorpe roots will buy him more time with the Iron faithful. However, if the style of football is as stodgy and monotonous it was under his predecessor, it seems unlikely that the current sense of harmony will be long-lasting.

Scunthorpe need a change of direction. They need a manager who will be brave, blood youngsters such as striker Kyle Wootton and winger Hakeeb Adelakun, tweak an aging midfield and build a vibrant team that supporters can get behind. Otherwise, there is a danger that frustration will grow among the fanbase.

Part of the problem is that Robins built a team suited to playing defensive football. It is hard to imagine midfield hard men Stephen Dawson and Neal Bishop buying into a philosophy of expansive, high-tempo football. Appointing a manager with new ideas would result in changes to the squad and first team setup. Chairman Peter Swann may be keen to avoid this, given the new stadium plans and the amount of money he spent in the summer.

Alexander is a safe appointment. With the former Burnley man in charge, Iron will not concede too many goals and should consolidate in League One. However, Scunthorpe fans want more than that. They want somebody who will freshen up the team, galvanize the club and get their side pushing for the Championship. Whether the returning right-back is the man to do that, remains to be seen.