Drastic action rarely delivers the desired turnaround

It's become a bit of a guessing game trying to work out which manager will lose his job next – but there isn't much in the way of proof to suggest the sack race really does work.

Mike Bassett is presumably preparing to join the Usual Suspects whose spells in the managerial backwaters are becoming shorter and shorter all the time. I thought we'd seen the last of Alan Curbishley, but his name is popping up every five minutes nowadays. Even dear old Glenn Roeder has been mentioned in despatches. Not surprising, given the number of managers who are biting the dust.

Maths has never been my strong point, but I make it 25 managerial changes this season alone. That's more than a division, more than a quarter of all the managers in senior football. That's ridiculous.

But has all the heartache and upheaval been worth it?

Chelsea did extremely well in midweek to stay in the Champions League, but it was a kick in the teeth for sacked manager Andre Villas-Boas. He left when they were fifth in the Premier League – they are still fifth. His replacement, Roberto Di Matteo, has hardly had the chance to get them any higher, but if Chelsea wanted an improvement and acted so dramatically to get it, shouldn't Chelsea be higher up the table?

It's the timing that irks. Anyone sacked at this time of the year is on a hiding to nothing.

If Gary Megson was good enough to take Sheffield Wednesday to third in League One, why was it considered sensible to bring someone else in to improve that position – does upheaval work that way? Ditto Lee Clark at Huddersfield.

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But perhaps the biggest example of getting the timing all wrong is at QPR. Despite what you may think of the club and of Neil Warnock, sacking him was harsh. Rangers weren't in dire straits. When they sacked Warnock they were one place above the relegation zone. Now they are one place lower. Not a shattering difference – but presumably the decision to get rid of the manager and bring in Mark Hughes was made in the hope that the difference would be noticeable for increasing the gap between the team and the drop zone. Nothing's happened except it has gone from bad to worse.

Perhaps it might have helped had Rangers got their house in order when they reportedly signed players to contracts which didn't contain relegation clauses. It's either arrogant or about as useful a bit of paper as the one Neville Chamberlain had in his hand when he declared peace in our time.

Some newspapers reported that clubs like Norwich and Swansea had put clauses into player contracts that would see wages reduced by between 33pc and 50pc if they were relegated. QPR didn't.

I'm not privy to contract information – the details of such things are so sensitive nowadays that they are guarded like the crown jewels for fear of falling into the wrong hands – but I was always led to believe, certainly a few years ago, that while salaries weren't the highest, the bonuses were well worth the effort.

If you think about it, dangling a large financial carrot in front of players (who will be pretty well paid anyway compared to the rest of us) is pretty sensible. Give it all at once and you take away some of the motivation. And let's face it, there aren't many people who discard financial motivation when it comes to work.

So what QPR have is a bunch of players who, no matter what happens this season, will be on the same salaries next season. It reminds me very much of the loan players who were here before Paul Lambert arrived – a situation which has led the manager to question the willingness of some to run through brick walls for points.

'I don't want to go down that road two years ago when people go back to their parent club and couldn't care two hoots. The lads I bring in will hopefully give me everything they've got,' he was quoted as saying some time ago.

There aren't many clubs whose fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the better because they have sacked their manager – Sunderland and Notts County buck the trend. County sacked Martin Allen when they were 11th in League One – they are now sixth, having won five of the six games since he departed, including last weekend's big 4-2 win at League One leaders Charlton.

Their manager is Keith Curle – who lost his job at the same time as Warnock. He was his assistant.

It remains a funny old game.


Dereck Chisora is unlikely to have expected much more or less from the British Boxing board of Control than the withdrawal of his licence.

Chisora was guilty of some shockingly poor behaviour before, during and after his fight against Vitali Klitschko in Munich last month.

Now his future as a boxer is in danger, although Amir Khan raised an interesting point when he suggested that taking boxing out of Chisora's life could actually lead to him being 'a bigger threat' on the streets. 'He needs to get his act together,' he said.

Interestingly, this week I spoke to Michael Walsh, the Cromer boxer who is making a return to the ring next month after an absence of around a year and a half because of injury. As usual, Michael was disarmingly honest.

He admitted he had been in a young offenders' institution as a teenager, he admitted he'd been a bad lad in the past and he admitted that it could all have gone wrong again as he battled to get over the death of his father and the frustration he felt at being sidelined for so long.

Several circumstances combined can have a potent effect. Before it got too deep he went away on a training camp and his mind is now firmly fixed on a target. Michael wants a British title, which would be a fitting tribute to his father.

Michael Walsh has acted positively when he could easily have made an excuse and stayed away from the sport of boxing.

He made the choice; Chisora had it made for him.

Both deserve what is coming to them – for very different reasons.


Just a warning – it's not only footballers who fall foul of their governing bodies if they use the social networking site Twitter.

The East Hockey website posted news of three players who have each received 30-day suspensions under the sport's Code of Conduct for misconduct after making rude comments about umpires on Twitter.

For those who need reminding, the England Hockey Board's Rule 7 says: 'Clubs must abide by the intended spirit of how the game should be played; observe EHB guidelines and procedures for discipline and pitch-side conduct; ensure that players, officials and spectators treat umpires with respect before, during and after matches; and not put disparaging remarks about leagues or opponents in press reports or on the internet. The Leagues will apply severe penalties in cases of umpire abuse.'

I find that totally refreshing.


Dave Richards, the Premier League chairman, has had to apologise to Fifa and Uefa this week after some comments he made during a conference in Qatar.

He said: 'England gave the world football. Then, 50 years later, some guy came along and said, 'you're liars, and they actually stole it'. It was called Fifa.'

Mr Richards also fell into a water feature, although the suggestion that he had had one too many was vehemently denied by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, who was with him at the time, and said, to my amusement,: 'Any suggestions he had a drink is nonsense. It's a dry place.'

But the strangest part of it all was Richards' explanation.

'I'd like to clarify something – I am a Yorkshireman and I am quite broad and if I say something it can be taken out of a little bit of context.'

Is being a Yorkshireman a defence nowadays? And is it only Yorkshiremen who can be quite broad? How would he have explained his words away had he been from the south..?


Peter Beardsley says Newcastle owner Mike Ashley deserves credit for resurrecting the club's fortunes.

'He is different class, I have to say. Unfortunately, he hasn't been given the support he deserves, but now people are starting to realise the club is on an even keel and going in the right direction.

'We have got a brilliant owner, a brilliant managing director, a brilliant manager, and if you have got those three who are really positive, you must have a chance.'

Beardsley is currently Newcastle United's football development manager. Wonder if he'd been as complimentary towards the man who renamed St James' Park the Sports Direct Arena if he wasn't on the payroll? Just a thought...