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Derek Adams quits Morecambe to return to Ross County

Derek Adams has quit as Morecambe manager for a second time, to pursue an opportunity to rejoin Ross County in the Scottish Premiership.

In a statement, Morecambe Football Club said: ‘’Derek Adams has today left Morecambe Football Club to pursue an opportunity elsewhere.

‘’The Board of Directors wished to retain the services of Derek Adams, but a contractual release clause was met to enable the move to progress.

''John McMahon and Ged Brannan will assume responsibility for preparing and leading the team whilst the process to appoint a new First Team Manager, which has started already, is undertaken.''

CEO Ben Sadler said: "Derek has done an excellent job in challenging circumstances during his second spell with Morecambe, securing the Club’s status in League One upon his return midway through the 2021/2022 season, and building an excellent squad almost from scratch in the current season that is currently sitting just outside the League Two playoff positions, with games in hand.

"For all of that, we thank Derek and wish him the very best for the future. However, the sole focus of the Board of Directors now is to appoint the best manager to take this very special club forwards.”

Director James Wakefield added: “We have made huge progress at Morecambe Football Club over the past four years; doubling the fanbase, professionalising the organisation on and off the pitch, developing exciting young players and bringing Morecambe FC Women and MFC Community Sports closer than ever before, all despite some well-publicised ownership challenges.

“We will move decisively now to appoint the best possible First Team Manager who will take up the baton and play their part in driving that progress forwards.”

It will be the third time that Adams has managed the club, and returns nine years after he last left.

Morecambe currently sit ninth in the League Two table, two points outside the promotion play off places, but with two games in hand on most sides above, after an excellent start to the season, following the Shrimps’ relegation after two seasons in League One.

The Glaswegian took over from Jim Bentley in 2019, and after guiding the club to League One promotion for the first time in the club’s history via the play offs in May 2021, Adams left to join Bradford City, but would only lead the Bantams for only eight months, leaving Valley Parade in February 2022.

Adams took over at the Mazuma Mobile Stadium for the second time a short time later, following the departure of Stephen Robinson, who also, ironically, left the club to move back North of the border.

He then masterminded Morecambe’s survival against the odds. Taking over with the club inside the relegation zone, a superb run of results over the Easter period saw the Shrimps reach safety on the final day of the season, securing a historic second season in football’s third tier.

Last season saw the club continue to be blighted by off the field issues surrounding ownership, with the uncertainty culminating in relegation for the first time in the club’s 103 year history.

The 48-year-old will replace Malky Mackay, who was sacked by Ross County last week, after the club went eight games without a win.

The Staggies only avoided the drop from the Scottish Premiership last season in a play-off final shootout.

Adams takes over with the side 11th place in the league, above only Livingston on goal difference, after two wins from their opening 12 games of the campaign.

He first left Dingwall in November 2010 - after leading the then first division club to the Scottish Cup final that year - to become assistant at Hibernian.

Adams returned to County just a few months later, though, leading them to promotion to the top flight before leaving in August 2014.

He took over at Plymouth Argyle the following year, guiding them to promotion to League One in 2017.

Analysis and opinion from Shrimps Live host and commentator, Dave Salmon:

Derek Adams leaves the Mazuma Mobile Stadium with legendary status undoubtedly secured.

He was the perfect fit for the club. He simply ‘got us’.

Make no mistake, two seasons in the third tier is Morecambe Football Club’s greatest ever achievement. For me, bigger than promotion to the Football League in 2007. Bigger than the initial promotion to League One.

He has never made any secret of the fact that he would at some point want to move back to Scotland.

Many fans have contacted me over the last day or so angry at the timing of the move. But it was one that was inevitable, and there is never a good time for these things to occur. Whether he would have been tempted to leave if things behind the scenes had been more settled, we'll never know. But one thing is clear. If there's any 'blame' to be attributed, it has to lie squarely at the door of our current owners.

It’s been a period of immense turmoil off the field. As fans, as members of the media, we have no real idea of just how bad things have been behind the scenes. The ongoing ownership issues, staff not being paid on time, and budget restrictions, have all combined to make the last year or so one of the toughest in living memory. And it's far from over.

Ask yourself this. What would you do in your line of work, if you were offered a return to a familiar place, with sounder resources to enable you to do your job to a higher standard? It's clear what the answer would be.

The bottom line is Morecambe’s financial position remains precarious. This is highlighted by the simple fact that every single senior player in the first team squad, with the exception of Adam Mayor, is either a loan signing or on a one year contract. Given our budgetary constraints, we have been vulnerable to losing our biggest assets for a long time. It happened last season when we couldn’t offer any out of contract player a deal, and at this moment, little has changed.

In any business, but perhaps especially in sport, clubs requiring a new manager court the services of someone gainfully employed elsewhere. Sometimes, nostalgia also plays a part, and when you combine the two, all the pieces can fall into place. It’s not a surprise at all that Derek has been headhunted. Sometimes, the offer just fits.

With no funds seemingly available for the January transfer window, and nothing else in any way certain after the summer, it’s inevitable that when another offer is put on the table, the attraction becomes blindingly obvious.

Derek is a man of absolute integrity and honour. Make no mistake, this isn’t a decision he will not have taken lightly. This isn’t a Stephen Robinson situation, jumping ship at the first opportunity. It will have been a considered process. Quick yes, but considered. 

Whether we can now maintain our excellent start to the season remains to be seen. There is without question the talent within our youthful and hungry squad to do so, but plenty rests on young shoulders. Can they thrive under a new regime? A huge appointment lies ahead. And what an opportunity it is for the right person. We need to take stock, and then embrace the new challenge. In the board we trust.

Ultimately, his legacy will never be forgotten, and will it ever be bettered? Thanks for everything Derek, and good luck.

The building of his statue is secure. I wonder if our new owner might pay for it?

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