Flint Town United has promised its supporters they will not have to wait long before discovering who is the new first-team manager at Cae-y-Castell.
The Cymru Premier club, one place off the basement after Saturday’s 6-3 defeat at Barry Town United, yesterday announced the departure of Niall McGuinness after three years at the helm.
Under McGuinness, the Silkmen had secured a return to the top flight for the first time in 22 years, achieved back-to-back runners-up finishes in the Cymru North, and won the Huws Gray League Cup in May 2018.
The current season started promisingly for the Essity Stadium outfit, with two victories in their opening three matches, but the last 11 games had brought just a single win. The Flint board felt it was time for a change of leadership.
The big question now is, who will replace McGuinness?
Following his departure from last season’s Cymru North champions Prestatyn Town in October, it was obvious Neil Gibson would be installed as the unofficial instant favourite to take over at Flint.
It is believed Gibson will meet senior officials at the club very soon, but if it turns out he is not the man for the job, could Flint lad and Welsh Premier legend Neville Powell be in contention?
Powell, who won three Welsh Cups and the WPL title while boss of Bangor City between 2008-11, is not in management at present, having left Aberystwyth Town earlier this year.
And there is Aden Shannon and Johnny Hill, assistants to McGuinness for the past three years and who have been asked to remain at the club. Could they be in chairman Darryl Williams’ thinking?
And for an outside bet, how about Nathan Craig? The ex-Everton prospect joined the Silkmen in the summer from Caernarfon Town and has a lot of professional football experience.
Chairman Williams released the following statement yesterday: “It is with enormous regret that we have today decided to part ways with our manager Niall McGuinness.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision on my part, as I regard Niall as a personal friend, and I’m incredibly grateful for all he’s done whilst he’s been here over the last three years.
“During that time, we have lifted the Huws Gray League Cup for the first time in our history and of course he guided us back into the top tier of Welsh football after an absence of 22 years. The club has undergone a huge transformation in the last five years or so, and Niall played a large part in that.
“However, as we all know, football is a results business and at the end of the day, it is vital for the club that having striven so hard to make it into the Cymru Premier League we do our utmost to stay there.
“So, with that in mind, and based upon our current league position and form, it was decided a change of management would be required. All at Flint Town United wish Niall the very best in the future and sincerely thank him for his contribution to the club.
“We have asked his assistants Aden Shannon and Johnny Hill to remain in their roles.
“An announcement regarding the new first team manager is expected to be made in the very near future.”
Niall McGuinness’ reaction
In a statement put out on social media yesterday, Niall McGuinness expressed his sadness at leaving Flint and appears already convinced that Neil Gibson is taking over.
Niall wrote: “Difficult to be writing this, but having received a phone call this morning to say the club would like to part company with me I would like to take my time to state what a memorable 3 years I’ve had at FTU.
“Taking the club over sitting in 11th position in the Cymru Alliance to achieving League Cup success, followed by back to back 2nd place finishes in the Cymru North which has seen us rise to WPL for the 1st time in 22 years, I leave as a proud manager.
“I have met some unbelievable people & made friends for life. Aden & Jonny it’s been a pleasure to share the journey with you gentlemen. All the players who have played for me during my time as manager I would like to thank you all.
“To the chairman for the opportunity he gave me & support he showed me over the last few years, Keith, Brummy & the rest of the people I’ve worked with at the club.
“Most importantly all the fans who have supported our journey.
“I genuinely believed over 32 games we would have stayed in the WPL.
“14 played, 9 away from home & 5 games against the top 4. Just 1 point difference in us & 2 teams above. With 6 home games to come no doubt the boys will pick up the points needed before the split.”
And, in a strong hint of what could be to come, Niall ended by stating: “Neil Gibson over to you. The foundations are all in place & you are taking over a fantastic group of men who are capable of achieving great things at the club.”