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Dave Bassett: the master becomes the apprentice

Dave BassettIt may not be quite that dramatic, but 63-year old Dave Bassett is Dennis Wise's new assistant manager. I'm not sure if there's a Freudian way to interpret the decision to appoint as your assistant the man who was your first manager, but I'd like to think so.

So, who is this Dave Bassett, and is he any good?

He played semi-professional football in his youth, retiring from Wimbledon shortly before the team turned professional in the late 1970s and taking a position as a coach at the club. He took over as manager in 1981 and, over the next six years, led the team from the old Fourth Division all the way to the top half of the old First Division, a fairly impressive achievement.

Taking the reins at Watford, he screwed up royally and, through mismanagement as much as anything else, led the team to a disastrous start to the season which would eventually result in relegation. He was fired by the end of the year, and moved to Sheffield United for the second half of the season. He fared little better there, and Sheffield too were relegated.

Knuckling down, Bassett led Sheffield to immediate promotion back into Division Two, followed the next season by promotion to Division One, where Sheffield remained until 1994 (by then the Premier League), when a last-day loss to Chelsea saw the team relegated. A weak showing in the next season led him to resign.

He took over struggling Crystal Palace in 1996, almost winning them promotion to the Premier League, only to be denied in a playoff final against Leicester. The next year, he left to take over then-Premiership Nottingham Forest, and despite being unable to prevent their relegation, won promotion back to the Premier League the following year. After a horrific half-season in the Premiership, he was fired (incidentally, he was replaced by the god-awful Ron Atkinson).

Next came Barnsley, whom he almost brought into the Premier League only to be thwarted, once again, in the playoff final, this time against Ipswich. He left in 2000, and took over Premiership side Leicester in 2001. Despite a good start to the season, he couldn't save the team from relegation, resigning as manager and taking up the job of Director of Football, which he held until 2004.

Finally, he took over as assistant manager at Southampton, alongside Harry Redknapp, in 2005, and at the end of that year, acted as caretaker manager alongside our very own Dennis Wise before resigning amidst bad blood between him and the board of directors.

My thoughts? Bassett has a decent record for a British manager, and while he doesn't seem in the least bit capable of managing a Premiership team, he does seem to have a knack for managing lower-level and underachieving squads, and for winning promotion, which he's managed on an almost ridiculous number of occasions. As long as we fire him before the start of our next season in the Premier League we should all be fine, and he has enough experience with this level of football that he should be a great foil for the less-experienced, but clearly talented, Dennis Wise.