Paul Buckle sacked as Bristol Rovers manager

Bristol Rovers have sacked manager Paul Buckle after seven months in charge.

Pressure has been mounting on the 41-year-old after Rovers' recent run of poor form, which has seen them claim five points from 10 League Two games.

They lost all three games over the festive period, including to relegation rivals Plymouth and Barnet, and are just five points above the drop zone.

Assistant boss Shaun North has taken caretaker charge of Rovers, who face Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Rovers chairman Nick Higgs told BBC Radio Bristol: "At the beginning of the season everyone thought we had made a good appointment in Paul Buckle. He was a promising, up-and-coming manager but after the initial start to the season it deteriorated rapidly.

"If we didn't address the problem now we'd be fighting a relegation battle and the thought of Bristol Rovers in the Conference doesn't bear thinking about.

"We've acted now to make sure that doesn't happen."

After a spell as player-coach at Exeter City, Buckle's first full-time managerial position came at Torquay in 2007 and he led them to the League Two play-off final last season, but they failed to win promotion, losing out to Stevenage.

He opted to leave Plainmoor and join Rovers in May and was tipped to turn around their fortunes following a disappointing season in which they employed four different managers and were relegated from League One.

Buckle started to rebuild the team, bringing in Scott Bevan and Chris Zebroski  from his former club, and signing an additional 19 players to replace the 19 released in the summer.

But his new-look side failed to live up to expectations - they have claimed just six victories so far this season and sit 19th.

BUCKLE AT ROVERS

  • 24 league games in charge
  • Six wins, five draws, 13 defeats
  • Secured FA Cup third-round tie with Aston Villa
  • Reached second round of Carling Cup
  • Went out of Johnstone's Paint Trophy in first round

The drama at the club has not been restricted to the field.

In November, Buckle had a public falling out with Pirates' longest-serving player and fans' favourite Stuart Campbell, and although both parties insisted they had cleared the air, the midfielder was released from his contract just before Christmas.

Campbell's exit, along with the poor run of results, angered a section of the Rovers' faithful and chants echoed around the ground at their last two defeats, 5-2 by Crewe and 2-0 by Barnet.

Higgs added: "It's now down to the fans to get behind the club. I've tried to listen to the fans where I can but I have to look beyond the requests to see what's best for the club.

"I want to make an appointment as quickly as I can and then we move forward."

Watch Buckle's last home game in charge, a 5-2 defeat by Crewe