Stand By Your Man: Why Owners Should Stick By Their Managers

Andre Villas-Boas has been the most high-profile head to roll this past month after taking over just last summer.  Source: Daily Mail

Andre Villas-Boas has been the most high-profile head to roll this past month after taking over just last summer. Source: Daily Mail

Brian Laws, Guy Whittingham, Richie Barker, Sean O’Driscoll, David Flitcroft, Martin Jol, Dave Jones, Owen Coyle, Steve Clarke, Andre Villas-Boas and Gianfranco Zola have all lost their jobs in football management in the past three weeks in the top four English divisions.

What is most shocking from these 11 managerial sackings is that the longest reign of all of them, which is Jol’s stint at Fulham, was just two-and-a-half years. That is seen now as almost the maximum benchmark for changing a team’s fortunes and that just shows you the pressure every single coach is under to produce.

Obviously every single situation is different and there can be justified reasons for each of those sackings, but eight of those bosses had either just under or just over a year in charge before getting the boot. Feasibly in most cases, even if it was going poorly, it’s not enough time to change this around and the win-now culture is becoming out of hand.

David Flitcroft, sacked by Barnsley, found a new job at Bury. He lasted less than a year in Yorkshire.  Source: BBC

David Flitcroft, sacked by Barnsley, found a new job at Bury. He lasted less than a year in Yorkshire. Source: BBC

Lessons should be learnt from the teams that have had success, such as Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure at Manchester United. At times, especially in the beginning, he struggled but he eventually turned the team to a powerhouse of the past few decades.

There are even examples this season of a manager’s longevity providing a return. Arsene Wenger was hounded after losing the first home game of the season but now he’s the one smiling with Arsenal on top of the Premier League. It’s even shown further down the league structure in League One, with Russell Slade finally breaking Leyton Orient’s mid-table mediocrity with his side currently in first position.

Sometimes you have to live through a bit of pain before baring some results but people don’t seem to see it anymore. Liverpool have had a poor time of it but they have found the right man to take them forward in Brendan Rodgers, Wigan stuck by Roberto Martinez and even though he couldn’t keep them up he brought them silverware.

Slade's Orient finished 7th in 2010/11, 20th in 2011/12 and 7th in 2012/13. The faith showed in him could pay off in promotion this year.  Source: The FA

Slade’s Orient finished 7th in 2010/11, 20th in 2011/12 and 7th in 2012/13. The faith showed in him could pay off in promotion this year. Source: The FA

You have to give a man time to get things right, rushing to decisions too early can kill a team’s season off regardless of who comes in. I guarantee that at least half of those teams who have sacked their manager will see a difference until the start of next season and those that do succeed might have a tough period come next year, and that’s why you sometimes have to ride it out. The only example of chopping and changing “working” is at Chelsea, but at the same time they have the financial clout to not have to worry so much about any personnel issues.

It could be worse; statistics by Sky Sports this past week show that the average tenancy in English football is 21 months whilst in Spain it’s eight, which is beyond a joke. However, that average will be coming down very soon and what worries me is that it will discourage those who do want to try coaching to avoid it without the job security.

At the end of the day, some of these sackings will have been the right decision. Some will be proven as rushed and that others may have been at fault, but owners really need to start wanting consistency that can lead to regular success rather than a one-shot deal that can end in disaster.

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