Stevenage have enjoyed an upturn in form since the arrival of Mark Sampson, picking up 10 points in our last 10; the side continuing to show signs of improvement.
It was a big call to bring Sampson in following the sacking of Dino Maamria in September. Now there’s now talk that, should our upturn in form continue, chairman Phil Wallace may take a gamble on him permanently. The whole season has been a gamble, to be fair. And over the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see exactly how the club rolls its dice.
There’s an element of slot machine play with this one. With Sampson having never been a men’s football coach at a professional level, it seems like Wallace is pulling the one-armed bandit on the best online slots. And the hope is, obviously, that he lands the jackpot.
Mark Sampson: The perfect gamble?
It’s so far, so good to an extent. His team’s performance as we battled to earn a replay against Peterborough in the FA Cup pleased Sampson. Meanwhile, we’ve lost just two in six in League Two; both of those tight games against high flyers Swindon and Colchester. Goals haven’t been easy to come by, however. We really need to work on our attacking play if we are to start moving up the table.
Just one side faces the drop this season following the loss of Bury. We’re second favourites to go down with the bookmakers, just ahead of Morecambe. But we could well be saved by Macclesfield’s woes, which could ultimately see them either plummet back down to the National League or even cease to exist.
What that will do is give the Boro’ a free hit and allow the manager to settle. Sampson did some sterling work with the women’s national team, but not without controversy. That has followed him to Stevenage, where he’s already faced accusations of racism; a claim that’s since been quashed by the club.
There’s been a belief by many that Sampson could really succeed in the men’s game. The opportunity that Wallace has given him could mark the start of a big career. It seems likely he’ll get the job permanently. The rest of the season will let him develop his plans and system. He’ll then have a summer to look forward to next too.
As proven during his time with the Lionesses, it is a gamble. But it appears it’s a gamble that Wallace looks ready to take.