Former Bristol City manager emerges as favourite for League Two job - previously played for linked club

Could Dean Holden be tempted with a return to the dugout with one of his former clubs? (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)Could Dean Holden be tempted with a return to the dugout with one of his former clubs? (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
Could Dean Holden be tempted with a return to the dugout with one of his former clubs? (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
Dean Holden was head coach of Bristol City for six months before he was sacked but now a new opportunity has arisen

Former Bristol City manager Dean Holden has emerged as a contender for the vacant Walsall job, which became available earlier this week.

The Saddlers are on the search for a new first-team manager after parting company with Matt Taylor on Wednesday after they suffered a defeat to relegation rivals Scunthorpe United.

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Taylor had been in the dugout when the Gas inflicted a 1-0 defeat onto his side back in January with Aaron Collins scoring the winner late on at the Memorial Stadium. It was one loss in what was the fifth out of seventh straight losses and ultimately the Midlands club decided to seek fresh ideas.

The emerging favourite for the hot seat at the Bescot Stadium is former Robins boss Dean Holden, who has been linked with just the third managerial opportunity of his coaching career.

Holden is currently the assistant manager to Michael O’Neill at Championship outfit Stoke City and has been at the bet365 Stadium for almost a year, having rejected the chance to work with the Welsh national team.

He linked up with the Northern Irishman just two months after he was relieved of his duties at Ashton Gate and made a return to his former club earlier this year, speaking candidly about his experiences in the role.

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Now he could be set for a return to management if the bookmakers odds are anything to go by with Holden coming out on top against candidates like James Rowe and former Newport County manager Michael Flynn.

He is the 2/1 favourite with BetVictor to take the job, giving him a 33.3% chance of being their next manager. Former Bristol Rovers manager Ian Holloway is also listed as a candidate though he is at 16/1, the same odds as fellow Bristolian Keith Curle, who used to play for both clubs.

The links to Walall probably come from when he finished his playing career at the club, making 34 appearances in the three years he spent in the Midlands. He joined them in 2012 and left in 2014, winding down his 16-year career by becoming a coach at Oldham Athletic, where he first met Lee Johnson.

Holden was previously the first-team coach at Walsall in March 2016 but was taken to B36 in November 2016 with Lee Johnson recruiting him as his assistant.

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He later became caretaker boss after the dismissal of Johnson in July 2020 and was later made head coach on a 12-month deal. The former right-back wouldn’t see out the season though after a run of six defeats placed them in mid-table and he was later replaced by Nigel Pearson.

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