Friday, 1 January 2010

The Managerial Merry-go-Round

The New year is a time to asses your goals - in life and in football. For me, a late promotion chase for the mighty Gills looks increasingly unlikely, and I am therefore reassessing my goals; staving away the threat of relegation is now the realistic aim. However, as we all look to 2010 its time to reflect on those who have not made it this far. Of course, for us any managerial post in professional football is a distant dream, but for those in the game it’s still just their job, and like anyone losing their job over the festive period you have to feel for them. Nevertheless, there’s little time for sentiment… I will be discussing the logic, or lack of, that has seen many men recently receive their P45, thus sparking the inevitable managerial merry-go-round.

Loyalty is an often referred to dying breed in a game that has become more of a business than a sport in the last decade. With so much money at stake throughout all levels of the game, results speak volumes and bad results mean the sack. Of course, loyalty can be a poison chalice, as Middlesbrough fans will no doubt vouch for. They had to witness Steve Gibson’s devotion to his inexperienced appointment, Gareth Southgate, lead them to the championship. As they sit 11th in the second tier of English football only 3 years after a European final appearance, Boro fans and their fiercely loyal chairman must wonder whether wielding the axe this time last year would have left them in better stead. Hindsight… However, although I am not a fan of the proverbial panic button and I believe the success of the likes of Ferguson, Wenger and Moyes warrants such a view, I do believe now is as good a time as any to change the hierarchy in a football club. With the transfer window imminent, clubs have just 4 weeks to wheel and deal in an attempt to improve their chances of achieving their goals. So if the board are not 100 per cent behind the man in charge, there seems little logic in letting him be the man to loosen the purse strings and potentially further stricken the football club.

Gary Megson is the latest man to lose his job, following the Premier League dismissals of Mark Hughes and Paul Hart. In the Championship, Alan Irvine finds himself out of work at Preston, as the latest of a staggering 8 managerial changes in the League. Perhaps the dismissal of the ex-Forest, West brom and Leicester (amongst others) boss leaves the football world far less shocked, and dare I say less interested than the sacking of Mark Hughes. Bolton fans certainly don’t seem sad to see the back of him and although Phil Gartside sited the club’s precarious league position as the reason behind Megson’s sacking, the fact that he had failed to ever gain the backing of the Bolton faithful would have played a major role. It’s difficult to judge this dismissal; Bolton were in an almost identical position when Megson took over and the more prudent football fan would suggest this means he’s done a good job. Would Bolton fans have taken this 2 years ago when Megson took over from Sammy Lee with the club destined for the championship? Yes would be my guess, but inevitably the expectations of the football club have increased despite the sale of Nicolas Anelka. Phil Gartside has gambled with the transfer window in mind and has a big, big appointment to make. Paul Jewell would be an ideal man to bring in given his experience, although I believe stagnation under Megson will lead to relegation under his successor.

Paul Hart recently made way for Avram Grant at Portsmouth and jumped on the merry-go-round to take up the stability of a managerial job at QPR. While every man and his dog at Pompey was busy denying that Grant had been lined up to replace Hart, Harry Redknapp was busy on Sky Sports saying he’d be “very surprised” if Avram didn’t take the job. Good old Harry- he’s been in football too long to believe any of that bullshit. So Hart heads for the circus that is the R’s under Briatore, in serious danger of getting his fingers burnt again, and Grant takes on mission impossible. Still, I bet Paul Hart is happy to see his pay cheque this week.

So, the managerial merry-go-round continues. And who are we to specualte who could be next. Well, lets finish off with what the bookies have to say:

Phil Brown 5/2
Gianfranco Zola 5/1
Rafa Benitez 6/1
David Moyes 10/1
Mick McCarthy 11/1
Harry Redknapp 14/1
Avram Grant 14/1
Sam Allardyce 20/1
Owen Coyle 33/1
Tony Pulis 33/1
Steve Bruce 33/1
Roberto Mancini 33/1
Alex McLeish 33/1
Carlo Ancelotti 50/1
Roy Hodgson 66/1
Arsene Wenger 66/1
Martin O’Neill80/1
Alex Ferguson 100/1

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