Gazette analysis: Dave Challinor such a hard act to follow after eight years at AFC Fylde

Dave Challinor at least reached the play-offs in each of his eight seasons as Fylde boss, winning promotion three times.
Dave Challinor at least reached the play-offs in each of his eight seasons as Fylde boss, winning promotion three times.
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AFC Fylde are starting the search for their first new manager in eight years knowing the next man at the helm has extremely difficult shoes to fill.

READ MORE: AFC Fylde statement on Challinor's exit

Dave Challinor, who was sacked on Saturday afternoon, enjoyed outstanding success in the role, lifting the club from the second tier of the Northern Premier League to the National League via three promotions in his first six seasons, two of those as champions.
Under former Tranmere Rovers and Bury full-back Challinor, 44, Fylde have at least reached the play-offs every season, including their first two in the National League, non-league football's elite level.
They reached the play-off final at Wembley in May, losing out on a place in the EFL to Salford City, but returned to the national stadium a week later to lift the FA Trophy by beating champions Leyton Orient.

Having assumed the Fylde role in November 2011, following promotion in his first season as a manager at Colwyn Bay, Challinor's length of service at a single club is almost unheard-of in the modern game.

To give some context, Blackpool are on their ninth manager since Challinor took charge of the Coasters and that does not include the caretaker stints by Steve Thompson and Barry Ferguson.
After going so close to achieving owner David Haythornthwaite's dream of a place in League Two (by 2022) ahead of schedule, Challinor's sacking and that of his constant right-hand man Colin Woodthorpe may appear hasty in what was their first seriously difficult spell after such a sustained period of almost continual progress and success.
The timing was certainly surprising as the duo would presumably have been in charge had Saturday's home match against Sutton United gone ahead - the London club were stuck at Euston amid major rail disruption in the south-east.
Challinor gave no hint of his impending departure when he spoke to The Gazette a few days ago, though he admitted the current run was his most difficult in his managerial career.
He said: "We had a run a couple of years ago when we lost some games, but that came on the back of us being top of the league at the time. That’s not the case this season.
“It was an okay start in terms of results but from that point we’ve really struggled.
“You’ve just got to remain positive and keep trying to do the right things, but it’s not the easiest time because you have to keep the players at it, keep them motivated and keep them believing in what we’re doing. That becomes more and more difficult when you’re not getting results."

Fylde won two of their first three games in their third National League season but then none of their next seven. That run saw them pick up just three points out of 21 and suffer successive 4-1 defeats to Woking and Halifax.
The corner appeared to have been turned after back-to-back victories over Eastleigh and Wrexham, but a further four successive defeats have followed, including another four-goal drubbing at home to Barnet.
That run has seen the Coasters slip back into the relegation zone. Only bottom club Ebbsfleet have a defensive record worse than that of Fylde, who have 32 conceded from 16 games.
Fylde's problems at the back brought two changes of goalkeeper in the early weeks of the season.
The loss of reliable last line of defence Jay Lynch last summer posed a problem, which Fylde appear yet to solve.
James Montgomery and Dan Lavercombe were both signed late in the summer after extensive trials and neither seized his chance in the team this season. This prompted Fylde to recruit Sam Hornby on loan last week from Bradford City.
Hornby made his debut 24 hours later in the 3-1 home defeat by Chesterfield which proved to be Challinor's last in charge.
Arguably the biggest single problem, however, has been at the other end of the field, involving the club's talismanic striker Danny Rowe.
Rowe has set goalscoring records galore at Fylde, being named National League player of the season in both campaigns at that level. He was also the league's top scorer last term, with 27 in the regular season.
However, Rowe has scored only four so far in 2019-20, the first two of those penalties.
This led to the club's star striker being switched to a wider role, with Jordan Williams preferred in the traditional number nine slot. And Rowe was substituted - something almost unheard of - with 15 minutes to play against Chesterfield in midweek.
In his last interview with The Gazette as Fylde boss, published yesterday, Challinor talked about Rowe's "struggle" and loss of confidence this season.
Challinor admitted that his need on the one hand get Rowe back among the goals, and on the other to select his most in-form attacker in the central role, had created something of a "vicious circle".
Getting Rowe back to his best will be one of many challenges for Challinor's successor, who faces a huge task following in the footsteps of an exceptionally longstanding and successful team boss.