Ben Garner: Bristol Rovers name ex-West Brom and Crystal Palace coach as manager

Ben Garner (right) with Tony Pulis
Ben Garner (right) worked with Tony Pulis at West Brom and Crystal Palace

Bristol Rovers have appointed Ben Garner as their new manager.

The 39-year-old former West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace first-team coach has signed a two-and-half-year contract at Rovers, who are fourth in League One.

He succeeds Graham Coughlan, who resigned to take over at League Two Mansfield Town last week.

It is Garner's first role as a manager, although he was heavily linked to taking over at Bradford City in 2018.

Garner's first game in charge will be Rovers' Boxing Day game at home to AFC Wimbledon.

"Ben was the outstanding candidate for the role and someone who really stood out to us during the interview process," Rovers' chief executive Martyn Starnes told the club website.

"He has a wealth of experience in the game and we look forward to supporting him is his role here at the club.

"Ben has a great record of working with younger players and we are keen for the close ties between the first-team and academy to be expanded further, showcasing a pathway for young players."

Garner turned to coaching at a young age after a career-ending injury and worked his way up within Crystal Palace's academy set-up, nurturing the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Nathaniel Clyne and Victor Moses.

He became first-team coach at the Eagles in the 2012-13 season and helped them reach the Premier League as they beat Watford in the play-off final.

Garner continued to work at Palace under Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock, and Alan Pardew, before leaving in July 2015 to take up a coaching role under Pulis at West Bromwich Albion.

He left the Hawthorns shortly after Pulis was sacked in late 2017 and his latest coaching role was as assistant to Steve Coppell with Indian Super League side ATK in Kolkata.

Rovers' first-team coach Kevin Maher, goalkeeping coach Adrian Tucker and development squad manager Lee Mansell will all continue to work as part of the backroom team.

Analysis

Ed Hadwin, BBC Radio Bristol

Garner arrives at a crucial time for Rovers, and could be exactly what they need.

On the pitch things are going very well, they are fourth in League One and with a realistic chance of continuing their promotion challenge.

But off the pitch plans for a move to a new stadium are going nowhere and with Rovers losing money there's speculation players may have to be sold in January to help balance the books.

His track record of working with young players could be key, with the likes of Alfie Kilgour and Rollin Menayese making a big impact, he will need to develop even more of Rovers' young talent.

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