JOHN Ward was named the best boss in League One last month and the infamous “Manager of the Month curse” wasted little time in striking – with Joe Garner ruled out until December.
The club’s top goalscorer and record signing is set for surgery after damaging his anterior cruciate ligaments in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Crewe Alexandra.
Footballing folklore has it that anyone named manager of the month immediately experiences a downturn in results, but Ward’s misfortune seems to have gone a step further.
The Cumbrians were unbeaten in February, winning four of their five matches. Ward beat off competition from Bristol Rovers’ Paul Trollope, Steve Tilson of Southend United and Swansea City manager Roberto Martinez.
Garner has scored 14 goals for the club since being signed by previous manager Neil McDonald from Blackburn Rovers.
“I always see this type of thing as a team award,” said Ward of his accolade. “If you are picking them up it is because the players are getting the results on the pitch.”
Tony Pulis (Stoke City) and former Newcastle United defender Peter Jackson (Lincoln City) were the other winners. Meanwhile, Darlington have signed Leeds United left-back Ben Parker on a one-month loan to cover for their growing number of suspended players.
Defenders Alan White and Neil Austin are both serving suspensions, while Tim Ryan is currently out with the latest in a catalogue of injuries which have hampered his Neasham Road career.
The 20-year-old, who was on loan at Bradford City for the whole of last season, has played 15 times for the Whites this season, including six league starts. He was allowed to leave after Aston Villa’s Stephen O’Halloran arrived at Elland Road on loan yesterday.