Bristol Rovers boss Paul Buckle is facing the axe
PAUL Buckle's reign as Bristol Rovers boss is hanging by a thread amid a growing clamour from fans for his removal.
The manager has come under increasing pressure after the recent poor run of league results, which has seen the Pirates take just five points from the last 27 available.
Calls for his head reached a crescendo following Boxing Day's clash with relegation-threatened Plymouth at the Memorial Stadium, which saw the home side squander a 2-0 interval lead to slip to a 3-2 defeat thanks to a stoppage-time winner.
That once again sparked chants demanding the axing of the 41-year-old former Torquay boss from a large section of the crowd as Rovers slipped to within six points of the League Two relegation places.
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Since then, various internet forums have been rife with posts from fans calling for the board to act.
I understand the majority of directors now see Buckle's situation as increasingly untenable given the widespread clamour for his departure from grassroots supporters.
There is now increasing speculation that the board could act to resolve the situation before Saturday's home game with Crewe.
The Plymouth game attracted an attendance of 8,090 – the Pirates' second biggest gate of the season and a figure bettered only by their first home game of the campaign, which saw them defeated by Buckle's former club.
But many fans are now vowing to stay away while the manager remains in charge and there are concerns that could have an increasingly adverse affect on crowds.
Buckle arrived at the club last summer amid a wave of optimism after a disastrous season that saw Rovers use four different managers but still suffer relegation from League One.
The new manager oversaw wholesale changes on the playing side and has brought in as many as 19 new faces since his arrival – including loan signings – as well as a number of backroom staff.
But the team have continued to struggle on the pitch. They have not managed to record back-to-back wins in the current campaign and have kept only one clean sheet in their last 15 outings.
Buckle, pictured, insists his mission to turn the club's fortunes around is a long-term project which can not be achieved overnight.
But it now looks increasingly as though his departure may only be a matter of time, with Rovers then facing the prospect of making their fifth managerial appointment in little over 12 months.
Paul Trollope was placed on gardening leave shortly before Christmas 2010 with his assistant Darren Patterson taking caretaker charge for two games before former Doncaster, Darlington and Oldham manager Dave Penney was appointed in January this year.
But the Yorkshireman's ill-fated spell at the Memorial Stadium lasted only 13 matches – during which time the team gleaned just eight points – before long-serving midfielder Stuart Campbell was handed the managerial reins for the final dozen games of the season.