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Dugout Blues: Frank Sinclair quits, then un-quits at Hednesford; Petrescu leads Chinese Super League; others

It was an up-and-down two weeks for ex-Chelsea players turned managers, especially for Frank Sinclair and his beleaguered Hednesford Town.

Mark Thompson/Getty Images


On March 1st Hednesford Town slumped to an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at Stockport County, leaving the west midlands side well-entrenched in the Conference North relegation picture. Sparks flew the next day between Hednesford manager Frank Sinclair and his chairman, Steve Price. According to Sinclair, who spoke to BBC WM, the heated conversation revolved around his future at the club. "[We] went down the route of me offering my resignation and him accepting it, because we thought that it was the best thing to do at the time," said Sinclair.

As soon as Sinclair had cleared out his office, he felt like he'd made a massive mistake. "The 48 hours that went after were atrocious," said Sinclair of the days following his departure from the club. Sinclair wasn't alone in his regrets; the Chairman too was questioning the decision. After a much calmer conversation on March 4th, Sinclair was re-instated as Hednesford Town manager.

The next day Sinclair's men gave a spirited account of themselves, drawing level twice against Gloucester City in a match that would end 2-2. On March 12th, Hednesford drew again; this time at home to Alfreton 3-3. Though both results can be seen as improvements, Sinclair would be disappointed that his side could not see off Alfreton, having been up 3-1 at half-time.

Hednesford are still in serious trouble. They sit 21st in the table, five points from safety. To make matters worse, a number of the clubs around them have a game-in-hand. Though manager and chairman have cleared the air and decided to unite for the greater good, is it too little too late to save the Pitmen's season?


Dan Petrescu is flying high in China. Though the season is just weeks old, Jiangsu Suning are first in both the Chinese Super League and Group E of the Asian Champions League. Goals from Jô and Alex Texeira saw off Korean champs Jeonbuk on March 1st. However, the result was tainted by Ramires seeing red in the 93rd minute. In Jiangsu's first two league games they beat Shandong Luneng and Yanbien 3-0 and 2-1 respectively.

In Qatar Gianfranco Zola's Al Arabi improved slightly, drawing 1-1 with Al-Kharityath on March 5th and beating Al Jaish 2-0 at home on the 11th. Al Arabi, who are 5th in the table, are chasing Al Jaish for third-place and a shot at qualifying for the Asian Champions League. League leaders Al Rayyan are 20 points clear at the top.

The Greek Super League has already crowned a champion. Olympiakos ran away with the title, with Gus Poyet's AEK Athens currently a distant second. Poyet's men drew 0-0 away at Asteras Tripolis on March 7th. Second place in Greece is good for a four team play-off to determine Greece's second entrant in the UEFA Champions League (qualification stage).

Hernan Crespo and Modena are 16th in Serie B, just two points from the relegation zone. On March 1st and March 6th Modena played in two crucial ‘six pointers'. They dropped the first game 2-1 to Ascoli, but beat Livorno 1-0 in the other. On March 12th they fell 2-0 to promotion chasing Spezia.

Also in a relegation battle is Slavisa Jokanovic. His Fulham team drew 2-2 with Reading on March 5th before losing 3-2 (at home) to league leaders Burnley on March 8th. On March 12th, in a game Jokanovic said was a "must win", Fulham lost to a heartbreaking last minute goal against fellow strugglers Bristol City, who left Craven Cottage with a vital 2-1 victory. Fulham are 20th in the Championship.

Local rivals QPR got six points from nine as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink saw his team lose away to MK Dons on the 5th, before beating Derby 2-0 and Brentford 3-0 at home on the 8th and 12th of March. QPR are 11th in the table, striking distance from a play-off spot. They've kept a clean sheet in all but one of their last four games.

Kevin Wilson, who scored 55 goals in 191 games for Chelsea between 1987 and 1992, is enjoying his first season as manager of Nuneaton Town FC (formerly Nuneaton Borough). The Vanarama Conference League North side are currently 5th which is good for a play-off berth. On March 1st the team drew 1-1 with title challengers Fylde. On March 12th Nuneaton lost 1-0 away at Gainsborough Trinity.

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