December 8 2013 Latest news:
Friday, March 9, 2012
Recent events at Chelsea and, a little earlier, Wolves, make me wonder if football is running out of managers. Or perhaps the candidates are becoming more fussy about their employers.
In an era when Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen can command £40,000 a week from the BBC for sitting on a sofa every Saturday night analysing the day’s games, it’s perhaps not surprising that out-of-work managers prefer a less stressful lifestyle. They always said sports journalists were those who couldn’t play the game so had to write about it – Hansen and Co appear somewhat spoiled for choice. It’s always been a mystery to me why the majority of pundits are ex-players – as if no one else has the same knowledge of the game. I’ve seen quite a few footballers who can play, but appear to have no more understanding of the game of football than you or I. And I’ve seen other people who know about football, and would be able to articulate their thoughts an awful lot better than a few of the ‘star’ names.
However, that sort of criticism is about all the flak they get – it isn’t like 40,000 people screaming “you’re getting sacked in the morning” at them.
Mick McCarthy had it at Wolves, who went through a strange ritual of talking to, and being rejected by, a few managers before settling on McCarthy’s assistant, Terry Connor.
Now Chelsea have done the same – they’ve dumped Andre Villas-Boas and replaced him with Roberto Di Matteo. RDM for AVB.
Surely, if the Premier League is, indeed, the greatest in the world, then either a) out-of-work managers will be falling over themselves to fill a managerial vacancy therein or b) the club concerned would be desperate to appoint a proven manager to help them either escape relegation or finish in the top six, or four as in Chelsea’s case.
Instead, two clubs have gone down the caretaker route.
In case b), did Wolves look beyond Alan Curbishley and Steve Bruce? Could they not convince either man that the Molineux job was worth having? Or did they decide to risk their Premier League future by appointing a man who was part of the previous apparently failed and flawed regime?
Have Chelsea likewise given up on the season and decided to wait for the summer to arrive before they bring in a new manager and clear the playing decks? If so, it’s a risk, given that they are still in the Champions League, just, and that a top four place would be within easier reach if they brought in a man who could handle a club (and its accompanying egos) of such magnitude.
Chelsea aren’t about to be relegated, but if you are a fan you’d be worried that their membership of the top-six club, let alone the top four, is under threat.
Maybe our clubs are asking too much. Maybe the expectations are too high. Chelsea are fifth in the Premier League, but that isn’t good enough for their owner. Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday also sacked their managers, despite being fourth and third, respectively, in League One.
If that is the norm, when do we get to a position where all managers are under threat unless they finish top of the league?
Brendan Rodgers, linked with the Chelsea vacancy, summed it up: “I am trying to build my career and not destroy it.”
The need for realistic expectation has been said many times by various powers that be at Carrow Road. I used to think they were there to deflect criticism when things went wrong. But it’s true – we all want our respective clubs to do well, but it appears to get out of hand at times.
There are managers like Paul Lambert, Brendan Rodgers, Roy Hodgson and Tony Pulis who are managing expectations and in relative safety as far as employment is concerned. But take a look past Manchester United and there’s a host of managers whose clubs are doing better than Lambert and Co’s, but who are in a more difficult position, because more is expected. Even Roberto Mancini wouldn’t be regarded as safe if Manchester City don’t win the title.
It’s a curious when coming second can be regarded as failure.