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David Dunn Is Bookmaker’s Favourite to Become Barrow AFC’s Next Manager

David Dunn

David Dunn has, this morning, emerged as the overwhelming favourite to take over at Barrow AFC. It was confirmed yesterday evening, that Barrow would be searching for a new manager. This is because Ian Evatt has left the Bluebirds to join Bolton Wanderers.

Evatt had been strongly linked with the Bolton job over the past week. Hence, his departure was not too greater a shock for Barrow. This should ensure that the Cumbrian club already have a list of potential candidates in mind. If not, then a virtual trip to SkyBet will provide some.

David Dunn Is Bookmaker’s Favourite to Become Barrow’s Next Manager

Dunn is the Favourite

Dunn is the overwhelming favourite at 1/4. This compares with Paul Hickingbottom, who is second favourite at 12/1.

There is a strong case for Dunn’s appointment. He is currently the coach at Blackpool. Dunn, following the dismissal of Simon Grayson in February 2020, oversaw six games as Blackpool’s caretaker-manager. His record was four wins, one draw and one defeat. This was a marked improvement on Grayson’s tally of just one victory in his final twelve games as Blackpool manager.

The National League have just crowned Barrow as their champions. This brings a return to the English Football League (EFL), where they last played in 1972.

Although Barrow are a progressive club, their success this season was unexpected. In recent years, other clubs have also achieved a surprise promotion to the EFL. However, a few including York City and Macclesfield Town have struggled to adapt.

Dunn, before joining Blackpool, was the Under-23s’ assistant coach at Blackburn Rovers. In recent years, Barrow and Rovers have formed strong links. Loaned to Barrow have been several of Blackburn’s younger players. Most notably are Matty Platt and Tom White, who were regulars in Barrow’s promotion-winning team of 2019/20.

During the 2015/16 season, Dunn had a brief spell as manager of Oldham Athletic. However, he was sacked in January 2016 after a mere 20 games.

Other Candidates

Of course, not all favourites win the race. Barrow might choose to look elsewhere. Taking Barrow through their first EFL campaign for 48 years would surely appeal to most lower league managers.

Another name on the bookmakers’ list is Sol Campbell. Yesterday, he left Southend United by mutual consent. Campbell has plenty of experience both as a player and now, as a manager. He has spent the past two seasons at Macclesfield Town and Southend United.

When Campbell took over as a manager, Macclesfield looked doomed to relegation from League 2. However, he successfully led them to safety in League 2 thereby proving his doubters wrong. 

He would leave the troubled Cheshire club last August. Within 2 months, he was appointed manager at Southend United of League 1. Alas, Southend were another struggling club. Campbell could not achieve the near-impossible and Southend’s relegation to League 2 was confirmed last month.

Although Barrow are in a far more positive situation, they might be deemed a backward move for Campbell. Rather than return to League 2 management, he has ambitions of becoming a Premiership manager as soon as possible.

North West Connections

The Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor is another on the bookmakers’ list. In November 2019, he was appointed United’s manager. They are currently in the National League, so Barrow would be a step up for Challinor.

He knows the lower divisions of the EFL having been a player at Tranmere Rovers and Stockport County, among others. Challinor also knows the North West area extremely well, for he spent 8 years as manager of AFC Fylde.

He led Fylde to the 2019 National League Play-off Final. However, they lost to Salford City via a disappointing performance. Had Fylde won promotion, they would have become the smallest team in the EFL.

Following a disappointing start to the 2019/20 campaign, he was sacked by the club in October 2019. Many on the Fylde coast felt he was harshly treated, having contributed so much to Fylde’s unbelievable rise from the depths of the non-league pyramid to near EFL membership.

Jim Bentley, the man who coincidentally replaced Challinor at Fylde, is rated as a more likely candidate for the Barrow job. Bentley has plenty of League 2 managerial experience, having spent 8 years as the Morecambe boss. In October 2019, he surprisingly quit Morecambe for the AFC Fylde post. However, should their relegation be confirmed, he now faces the prospect of guiding the Coasters to a National League return.

Plenty of Experienced Names Available

The previously mentioned Simon Grayson is another who could prove a shrewd appointment for Barrow. He has a wealth of managerial experience having guided several clubs to promotion from League 1.

Gary Bowyer, who ironically was Dunn’s manager at Blackburn, is another potential candidate. Like Grayson, he counts Blackpool and Bradford City among the clubs he has managed.

Might Keith Hill be the man to replace Evatt? Of course, this would effectively mean that Barrow and Bolton have swapped managers. Hill left Wanderers last month when it was announced that the club would not be renewing his contract.

Hill guided Rochdale to their first promotion in 41 years when he oversaw their elevation to League 1 in 2010.

Without a doubt, 2020/21 will be a pivotal season for Barrow. Their choice of manager could be the difference between them becoming a future Accrington Stanley or another York City.

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