Dave Bassett

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Dave Bassett
Personal information
Full name David Thomas Bassett
Date of birth (1944-09-04) 4 September 1944 (age 69)
Place of birth Stanmore, England
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1963–1964 Wycombe Wanderers 13 (2)
1967–1968 St Albans City 11 (0)
1974–1975 Wimbledon 35 (0)
Teams managed
1981–1987 Wimbledon
1987–1988 Watford
1988–1995 Sheffield United
1996–1997 Crystal Palace
1997–1999 Nottingham Forest
1999–2000 Barnsley
2001–2002 Leicester City
2004 Leicester City (caretaker)
2005 Southampton (caretaker)
2007–2008 Leeds United (Assistant Manager)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

David Bassett (born 4 September 1944 in Stanmore), also frequently known by his nickname of Harry, is an English football manager and a former player.

In his career he has managed Wimbledon, Watford, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, Leicester City and Southampton.

Playing career

As a player Bassett was a defensive midfielder at semi-professional level, playing for Hayes between 1961 & 1963, returning to the club on two occasions from 1964-1966 and 1968-1969 he also played at St Albans City where he made eleven appearances in the 1967/68 season, Wycombe Wanderers, Dave also played for Walton & Hersham between 1969 and 1974, where he was captain of the side that won the FA Amateur Cup in 1973, and most notably at Wimbledon. He was part of the Wimbledon team who, in the 1975 FA Cup, famously beat First Division Burnley away in the 3rd round then forced a draw in the 4th round at reigning League Champions Leeds United, before losing narrowly 1-0 (the goal being a wide shot that deflected in off Bassett's knee) in the replay.

Dave made a total of 141 appearances for Wimbledon whilst in the Southern League, 99 league and 42 cup, these were split, 53 appearances in 1974/75 scoring 2 goals, 43 in 1975/76 again scoring 2 goals and 45 in 1976/77.

In the Football League Dave made 39 appearances for Wimbledon, 35 league, 1 FA Cup and 3 league cup, scoring 1 goal in the process.

Dave also made 10 amateur international appearances whilst playing for Walton & Hersham.

He retired from playing and became assistant manager soon after Wimbledon won election to the Football League in 1977 under the management of Dario Gradi, having made 35 Football League appearances.

Management career

Wimbledon

Bassett was promoted to first team manager following the departure of Dario Gradi to Crystal Palace in January 1981, when Wimbledon were ninth in the Fourth Division. Wimbledon's form improved substantially following Bassett's appointment, and a 4–1 home win over Rochdale on 28 April 1981 (the penultimate game of the season) secured promotion to the Third Division.

Wimbledon initially struggled at the higher level during 1981–82, Bassett's first full season in charge, and they spent most of the season in a relegation battle. Despite winning four of their last five games of the season, they were still relegated back to the Fourth Division on goal difference, in 21st place.

There then followed five highly successful seasons, which transformed the club's fortunes more than anyone could have predicted.

An excellent campaign in 1982–83 saw Bassett guide Wimbledon to promotion as the Fourth Division championship title winners with 98 points – the highest in any Football League division that year.

Although Wimbledon lost their first two games back in the Third Division, they crushed Newport County (who had narrowly missed out on promotion to the Second Division the previous season) 6–0 at home in the third game of the league campaign, and by Christmas they were genuine promotion contenders. Promotion was sealed on the final day of the season with a 2–0 away win over Burnley which secured a second place finish.

In June 1984, Bassett accepted an offer to become manager of Second Division club Crystal Palace, but remarkably changed his mind within 72 hours, refused to sign the contract at Selhurst Park, and returned to Wimbledon, stating that "I gave it some serious thought, but in the end it just did not feel right. We have unfinished business, and I didn't really want to leave here."

Wimbledon's life as a Second Division club began with a notable 2–2 home draw with strong promotion favourites Manchester City on the opening day of the 1984–85 season. Few people would have been surprised if Bassett's men had struggled in their first season at this level, but they continued to perform efficiently if not spectacularly, and whilst never looking like contenders for a unique third successive promotion neither were they in any danger of relegation. They finally managed a secure 12th place finish – a remarkable feat made all the more impressive by the fact that Bassett guided his team to a higher finish than traditional big clubs including Sheffield United, Middlesbrough and relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers. But this remarkable success story was still very much in its early stages.

The 1985–86 began with a bang at Plough Lane as Bassett's Wimbledon crushed a financially troubled Middlesbrough (who ended the season relegated) 3–0 at Plough Lane. By the end of October 1985, Wimbledon were third in the league and were serious contenders for a third promotion in four seasons – a feat previously achieved only by Swansea City. On the final day of the season, a 1–1 draw at Bradford City saw Wimbledon seal the third and final promotion place to reach the First Division, only a mere nine years after joining the Football League.

Most observers tipped Wimbledon to go straight back down to the Second Division in 1986–87, but the team got off to a dream start in the First Division and a 1–0 win at Charlton Athletic on 2 September 1986 put them top of the league.1 They stayed top the following week,2 until they were overtaken by Nottingham Forest eleven days later.3 Wimbledon's form for the remainder of the autumn was less impressive, as they finished October in 14th place, but they steadily recovered as the season went on and achieved a highly impressive sixth place in the league with 66 points – ahead of traditional title favourites including Nottingham Forest and Manchester United. Bassett also guided his team to a shock 3–1 over eventual league champions Everton in the FA Cup fifth round,4 though their hopes of cup glory were put on hold for a year when they lost 2–0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter final.5

The team's style of no-nonsense, direct "long ball" play, termed by Bassett as "route one football", wherein the ball was continually launched forward into the opposition penalty area for Wimbledon's muscular strikers, was widely disliked by the football media who considered it crude and unsophisticated, but other teams found it very difficult to play against and it proved most successful. Bassett was continually forced to defend his tactics against critics, arguing that he was merely playing to his own team's strengths and capabilities, and that, ultimately, it actually worked very well for them.2 Whilst it was not pretty, it was undeniably effective. The constant external criticism of his team helped to forge an indomitable team spirit amongst the players, which Bassett actively encouraged.

Whilst still hugely popular with both the club's fans and his own players, by the summer of 1987 Bassett felt that he had taken the club about as far as he could. He resigned as manager in June to take up an offer from Watford, handing over the reins to Bobby Gould, who took them even further a year later by winning the FA Cup at the expense of league champions Liverpool. Most of the cup winning team had been brought in by Bassett, and Gould was quick to acknowledge that fact.

Bassett developed the likes of Dave Beasant, John Fashanu, Vinnie Jones, Lawrie Sanchez and Dennis Wise at the club. All of these players featured in the 1988 FA Cup winning team, and went on to win international honours, with Wise later collecting further major trophies when he was eventually sold to Chelsea.

Some 20 years after leaving Wimbledon, Reynolds Gate housing development (on the site of Wimbledon's Plough Lane stadium, which closed in 1991) included an apartment block - Bassett House - named in honour of Bassett.

Watford

Bassett's reign as Watford manager was short-lived. The team had just finished ninth in 1986/87 under the management of Graham Taylor, who had left to take charge of relegated Aston Villa. Before Bassett's arrival, Watford also sold John Barnes to Liverpool but, instead of retaining the nucleus of the successful side of the mid-80s, he sold several other first-team regulars including Kevin Richardson, David Bardsley, Lee Sinnott and Mike Woodward. Their replacements did not do as well, and when Watford started the 1987/88 season in poor form, the blame was placed squarely on Bassett who was sacked in January 19886 with the club bottom of the First Division7 and relegation to the Second Division looking inevitable. He even dropped Tony Coton, Watford's best ever goalkeeper.

Sheffield United

In 1987/88, Bassett became one of the few managers to have the dubious honour of being involved with two relegated clubs in the same season. On 21 January 1988, just days after leaving Watford, he took over at Sheffield United. Despite bringing many new players, he was unable to prevent a weak team from sliding into the Third Division after losing the double-legged play-off with Bristol City 2–1

However, with the Bassett bringing his own backroom staff during the close season and more new players brought in, he took them back up at the first attempt in 1988/89. A second successive promotion following in 1989/90, and First Division football returned to Bramall Lane in the 1990/91 season for the first time since the 1970s. The most influential player in this team was striker Brian Deane, who was capped three times by England.

Sheffield United failed to win any of their first 16 league games in 1990–91, breaking a First Division record in the process,8 and went into the new year at the bottom of the First Division. But a rousing resurgence in the second half of the season saw the Blades climb up to a secure 13th place in the final table. They did even better in 1991/92, finishing ninth in the First Division and securing a place in the new Premier League.

Sheffield United's Premier League debut was reasonable. They finished 14th in the final table, reached the semi finals of the FA Cup, and condemned Nottingham Forest to relegation by winning the penultimate game of the season.9 However, when Brian Deane was sold to Leeds United during the 1993 close season, without him the Blades struggled. Bassett's luck finally ran out on the last day of the 1993/94 season. Needing a single point to avoid relegation, they lost 3–2 at Chelsea, having led 2–1 with 5 minutes remaining.10 An eighth place finish in the 1994/95 Division One campaign was not enough for a play-off place, and Bassett resigned the following December with relegation looking more likely than promotion and protests against the board mounting.

Crystal Palace

Bassett took over at Crystal Palace in early February 1996,11 taking charge of a club which was standing in 16th place in Division One and had lost most of its players the previous summer. Dave Bassett set about rejuvenating the side, and a storming run meant that automatic promotion was still a possibility until the penultimate game of the season. In the end, they finished third in the table and reached the playoff final where they lost 2–1 in extra time to Leicester City.12

Nottingham Forest

In March 1997, Bassett left Crystal Palace to take joint charge of Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest13 with former Forest and England player Stuart Pearce. He was unable to prevent them from being relegated,14 but they were promoted back to the Premier League at the first attempt under his sole charge after winning the 1997/98 Division One championship with some ease. But Forest had a terrible start to the 1998/99 Premier League, and Bassett was sacked in January 1999, with "player power" cited as a reason.15 Forest were unable to avoid the drop under Bassett's successor Ron Atkinson.

Barnsley

Bassett succeeded John Hendrie as Barnsley manager in May 1999. In his first season at the helm Barnsley reached the Division One play-off final but missed out of promotion to the Premier League after losing to Ipswich Town.12 Bassett left in December 2000 after failing to mount another promotion challenge.16 He was almost immediately linked with a move to succeed Colin Lee at fellow Division One club Wolverhampton Wanderers,16 but when Lee's successor was announced in the new year it was Dave Jones, formerly of Southampton, and not Bassett, who took the role.17

Leicester City

Bassett became Leicester City manager in October 2001. For a while it looked as though Bassett could save Leicester's Premier League status, but a four-month winless run from December condemned the team to relegation from the Premier League after a six-year tenancy. After a 1–0 defeat to Manchester United which confirmed Leicester's relegation, Bassett became Director of Football, handing over his managerial duties to assistant Micky Adams. He took over as manager again on 11 October 2004 after Adams' resignation, but left his Director of Football role after Craig Levein was appointed as Adams' replacement.

Southampton

Bassett was appointed as assistant manager to Harry Redknapp at Southampton in the summer of 2005, after the departure of Jim Smith.18 When Redknapp left in December 2005, Bassett became the caretaker manager, in a shared role with Dennis Wise. He left the club with some acrimony after George Burley was eventually appointed full-time manager of the Saints.19 Bassett stated that he had been led to believe by the chairman that he was the players' choice as next manager. During his brief sojourn in charge at St Mary's, Saints played three matches, with one victory, one draw and one defeat.

Watford

During the 2006/07, Bassett acted as a "consultant" to then-manager Aidy Boothroyd during the club's spell in the Premier League.20

Leeds United

On 31 October 2007 Bassett was appointed as assistant manager to Dennis Wise at Leeds United for the remainder of the 2007/08 season.21 On 29 January 2008, it was reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post that Bassett had left the club, following Dennis Wise's resignation as manager.

Sheffield United

On 10 February 2011 Bassett returned to Sheffield United F.C. in a consultancy role for then-manager Micky Adams, with the club in the midst of a Championship relegation battle and Adams struggling to adapt to his new job.22 Following Adams' departure from the Blades in May 2011 and the appointment of Danny Wilson, Bassett was understood to have quit the post, though no official statement was made.

Managerial Statistics

Team Nat From To Record
G W L D Win %
Wimbledon England 1 January 1981 17 June 1987 303 144 85 74 47.52
Watford England 18 June 1987 11 January 1988 28 7 13 8 25
Sheffield United England 21 January 1988 12 December 1995 393 150 142 101 38.17
Crystal Palace England 8 February 1996 27 February 1997 60 29 16 15 48.33
Nottingham Forest England 8 May 1997 5 January 1999 77 33 24 20 42.86
Barnsley England 27 May 1999 19 December 2000 84 38 28 18 45.24
Leicester City England 10 October 2001 6 April 2002 27 4 15 8 14.81
Leicester City (caretaker) England 11 October 2004 31 October 2004 4 0 0 4 0
Southampton (caretaker) England 2 December 2005 23 December 2005 3 1 1 1 33.33

Managerial Honours

Wimbledon
Sheffield United
Nottingham Forest

References

  1. ^ "Wimbledon to the fore with Wise goal". New Straits Times. 4 September 1986. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "'And soccer only comes fourth in Wimbledon'". New Straits Times. 11 September 1986. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Wimbledon crashes to earth in soccer". Montreal Gazette. Associated Press. 15 September 1986. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "John Fashanu spearheads Wimbledon to Cup upset". Toronto Star. 23 February 1987. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "FA Cup down to final four". Toronto Star. Associated Press. 16 March 1987. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Bassett leaves Watford after only eight months". The Herald (Glasgow). 12 January 1988. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Sutton are in with the giants". The Herald (Glasgow). 12 January 1988. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Sheffield must win to avoid record books". New Straits Times. Reuters. 8 December 1990. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  9. ^ "Sad end for Clough as Forest go down". New Straits Times. 2 May 1993. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Brown, Geoff (8 May 1994). "Stein stuns Bassett". The Independent. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Bassett is new Palace boss". New Straits Times. Reuters. 10 February 1996. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "First Division play-off preview". BBC Sport. 21 May 2003. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "Bassett quits Palace and joins Forest". The Nation (Bangkok: Nation Multimedia Group). Reuters. 1 March 1997. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "Premiership 1996/97". Soccerbase. Racing Post. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Gallacher, Ken (6 January 1999). "Bassett is eased out by player power; Van Hooijdonk saga was a major factor in sacking of Forest manager". The Herald (Glasgow). Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Ley, John (19 December 2000). "Bassett in market as he leaves Barnsley". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  17. ^ Warshaw, Andrew (1 October 2001). "Who's next for the Foxes hot-seat?". BBC Sport. 
  18. ^ "It's Harry and Harry at St Mary's". Daily Mail. 28 June 2005. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  19. ^ Burt, Jason (23 December 2005). "Southampton put their faith in the Burley and Woodward show". The Independent. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  20. ^ Affleck, Kevin (26 June 2007). "Bassett bombshell". Watford Observer. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  21. ^ "Bassett named as Leeds assistant". BBC Sport. 1 November 2007. 
  22. ^ "Dave Bassett takes up Sheffield United consultancy role". BBC Sport. 10 February 2011. 

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