At the end of January 2021, Simon Rusk was appointed as manager of National League side Stockport County. After a difficult start to his life at Edgeley Park, The Footy Gang discuss whether the former Brighton Hove Albion youth coach is the right man to take Stockport County back into the Football League, or whether the job is unfortunately, just too big for him.
Rusk, 39, enjoyed a solid playing career in the English Football League, appearing for Boston United, York City and Crawley Town, to name a few of his previous clubs. After retiring from professional football in 2011, Rusk was appointed manager of Brighton Hove Albion's under 23 side. Rusk has been praised by many within the game due to his ability to improve and develop youngsters. Rusk oversaw players such as Robert Sanchez, progress through the Brighton Hove Albion youth set up and cement himself as the side's number 1 goalkeeper.
Stockport County legend Jim Gannon was in his third spell at the club before he was sacked by chairman Mark Stott due to a "cultural issue", with Simon Rusk taking over the reigns at the Conference club only seven days later. For many Stockport County fans, the sacking was seen as extremely unfair, with Stockport performing well on the pitch with the club sitting fourth in the league at the time of Gannon's dismissal.
Speaking about the arrival of Ruck, Stockport's Director of Football Simon Wilson applauded the appointment, stating that is Stockport's aim to reach the Championship. Very high ambitions for a club who has not featured in the EFL since the 2010-11 season.
Due to the lofty ambitions of Mark Stott and Simon Wilson, Stockport invested heavily in the summer, with Connor Jennings and John Rooney (The Footy Gang previously rated Rooney as the best footballer in Non League football) arriving at the club from Tranmere Rovers and Barrow respectively. Yesterday it was announced that highly rated duo Elliot Newby and Harry Crawford had signed for Stockport, adding to their already inflated wage bill.
In Rusk's six games as manager, the pressure is already on the former Brighton youth coach, with Stockport picking up eight points from a possible eighteen, which including a two drab nil-draw against Maidenhead and Aldershot, as well as losses against Sutton and Eastleigh.
Whether Simon Rusk is the right man to lead Stockport County to the EFL, only time will tell. However, if Stockport County do not gain promotion, there will be fingers pointed at owner Martin Stott and Director of Football Simon Wilson, the men who sacked "one of their own" in their former manager Jim Gannon.