Monday 30 May 2016


According to the League Managers Association’s End of Season Manager Statistics, (click here for the full report ) 70 managers in the 4 tiers of England’s Professional Football league have lost their jobs in the recently concluded season. 54 by way of dismissal and 14 via resignations. It is conceivable that some of the resignations are constructive dismissals. 11 of the dismissals were Premier League managers. In the words of the LMA the dismissals are ‘unprecedented’.

As things stand, the average tenure of a football manager is 1.5 years and the average tenure of dismissed managers is 1.34 years. In the Premier League, the average tenure of current managers is 1.91. With Arsene Wenger amongst that rank with c20 years of service and Eddie Howe at 3.6 years as the 2nd longest serving manager, if you take out Arsene as an outlier and perhaps the last of his kind, you can be sure the Premier League average is nearer 1 than 2.

So who wants to be a football manager? Who wants a job with the immense pressure of potentially 30,000 cursing and swearing at you every weekend or midweek? 

Who wants the job where a megalomaniac owner is breathing down your neck every day thinking he can do the job better than you but refusing to take the reins himself after realizing it will be difficult to sack himself? 

Who wants a job doing what you love with a young family to feed knowing that job is going to be yanked away from you in less than a year? 

Who wants a job where the whim, oversight or ‘dodgyness’ of  a referee or his assistant can lead you to the sack despite setting your team out to play well and doing ‘everything’ right football wise? 

Who wants the job at all, knowing that football is a cruel old game? 

I get it, the rewards are massive. Remi Garde & Tim Sherwood probably walked off from Aston Villa with at least a £1m in their back pockets. Louis Van Gall was last seen crying into his £5m pay off and Jose Mourinho has reportedly earned c£40m from Mr. Abramovich’s propensity to ‘Fire & Fire’ and that is £40m without the imminent Red Devil inspired big fat juicy pay off to come. 

Yes, those are the glam stories and works well for managers in demand. Tony Pulis, Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce reportedly earned decent money from saving their club from relegation. Good on them.

What about the managers who are not at this level? Leaving with nothing because their contracts didn’t contain bulletproof clauses?  Because they couldn’t demand such clauses in their contract? Managers who are regular Joes like you and I? 

Yes I get the fact that they know what they are signing up for but imagine the man who did everything required and still gets fired? Slavisa Jokanovic? Quique Sanchez Flores?  Both at Watford.  Don’t get me started on the Pozo, they probably have an Abramovich sized complex. 

What about Chris Hughton at Newcastle who appeared to have been fired because his face didn’t fit? What about Rene Mulensteen at Fulham whose trajectory was on the up?

Personally I blame managers who agree to be employed by a maniac like Cellino at Leeds. Forgive me, you deserve everything you get if you decide to sleep with a mad man no matter how long you have been waiting to have your itch scratched :)  

We all know the drill about getting fleas while sleeping with dogs. Personally I will advice the League Managers Association to put a notice out to all members letting them know that they wont be represented if they work for Cellino. 

Also I thought Rafa Benitez agreeing to stay at Newcastle was strange, knowing what we know about Mr. Ashley. Personally I would rather be at home spending all my millions than work for Mr. Ashley despite all the promises we heard the latter has made to Rafa. Everything about Mr. Ashley in the public place especially his dealings with the Investment Community suggests he will break all & any promises. Dont cry or moan to us Rafa when it ends in tears.

Am I contradicting myself about managers? I don’t think so. Every rule has an exception I am told. Mine are Cellino & Ashley. Two peas in one exception pod.

Back to managers knowing what the job entails before signing up. Yes they know what they are signing up for but it still doesn’t make a lot of the hiring and firing we have seen sensible.

Is there a solution? I honestly don’t know. But what I hear and read is that club owners believe firing managers is a quicker and easier fix than firing players even when the players are the problem.

Is there a proper set up at the club? Recruitment, Training facilities, football ‘practical’ & football business knowledge within the club and independent of the manager that the owner posses or can access? 

Does the manager have a free hand to choose his team? Are there targets set? Hard firm targets e.g. Top 10 by Christmas? Push for Play off places? Or even go one step higher and do per match targets i.e. look at the list of clubs in your league at the start of the season, judging by squad strength etc., you commit to 3 points against ‘X’ number of teams within reason (referee errors, a dodgy lasagna moment etc.).

It would appear matrices like these are way beyond the imagination of football owners or football itself with a preference by all to keep things fluid with an acceptance that a manager can then be fired for no reason and at the whim of the owner with the manager receiving a pay off that ultimately adds to the cost of following football by us fans.

I read this article about Carlo Ancellotti and came to the conclusion that perhaps managers and not owners are the problem of football. Yes, the hiring and firing worked for Roman, Chelsea won a Champions League Trophy and have won 3 league titles in 12 years but what if he did it differently? Could they have won more? It is a possibility.

On a final note, I hope the above is a pointer to fans who are devoted ‘Sack the Manager’ advocates. It is unlikely to be the solution if the average sacked manager has only been in role for 1.31 years. If your club is a truly top top club, how long before you burn through top-level managers. Roman has craved Pep Guardiola but it is unlikely Pep will ever work for him. To Pep, Roman is probably like Ashley & Cellino.

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