The season of 2013/2014 will be remembered for lots of different things.
There was United’s ignominious fall from grace.
There was Liverpool’s rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
There was the return of the Special One. There was Tony Pulis’s escape artist routine. There was Alan Pardew head butting someone.
You get the point; there was a hell of a lot going on.
But I think perhaps what I will remember above all from this season will be the ridiculous managerial merry-go-round that has seen eleven managers leave their posts in a nine-month season. In case you’re as bad at mathematics as I am, that’s more than one a month.
Let’s consider them:
There was Paulo di Canio, who was always destined to fail from the moment he was appointed at Sunderland. There was Ian Holloway who gracefully bowed out after a woeful start at Selhurst Park. There was Andre Villas-Boas, sacked after failing to blend a brand new team in two and a half months. There was Malky Mackay, bizarrely forced out of Cardiff in a rather public and undignified manner and Steve Clarke sacked at the Hawthorns despite doing a perfectly adequate job.
There was Martin Jol, who had assembled a squad of (in footballing terms) old-age pensioners at Craven Cottage. Then there was Rene Meulensteen, Jol’s replacement, sacked after what seemed like about a month in charge. There was Michael Laudrup, one of the most coiffured managers in the division, sacked after seeing his team free fall following their League Cup win last season. And of course there was Chris Hughton, sacked bizarrely about a month before the end of the season, presumably in the vain hope that his less qualified assistant might be able to galvanise the squad ahead of their highly likely relegation. He couldn’t. And most high profile of all, David Moyes, sacked ten months after succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson.
And then finally (so far at least), Pepe Mel has been given his marching orders from West Brom today, a mere four months after landing the job. Tim Sherwood and Paul Lambert are highly likely to be joining him in the job centre.
To me, at least, this state of affairs seems utterly ridiculous.
Twelve probable managerial departures in less than a year. Two managerial sackings at Fulham, and two at West Brom.
Just think of the money involved in all of these severance packages. Think of how many millions of pounds these men are being given simply to clear their desks and walk away with their heads bowed low and their wallets bulging. It is quite simply preposterous, and would never happen in any other serious industry anywhere in the world.
No doubt each of these slighted individuals will have enjoyed serious remuneration for their efforts, but really, that’s not the point, is it?
No longer does a contract mean anything at all. Seriously, it now means absolutely nothing. Next time you hear a club announce a new manager and hear them say, “So-and-so is in charge for five years, they’re building a brand new era for this club. They’re going to reshape it from top to bottom, and we’re going to back them in the transfer market to ensure that this happens”, don’t believe them.
Because it’s not true.
Based on the evidence of the season just gone, if a manager goes through a run of poor form he will be fired, simple as. Perhaps only Arsene Wenger is immune from this, and this is only because the Frenchman has a considerable amount of credit in his account. The new man at Manchester United won’t have time, nor will the new man at Spurs (it was ever thus). In this new era, if you don’t get results, you will lose your job, and that’s a pretty harsh reality because in a game like football, not everyone can get results. It’s just a simple fact of the game that if one team wins, one team will lose. Only now there is another simple fact; if you lose a few in a row, you’ll be fired.
I’m not saying that some of these managers haven’t been legitimately sacked. I made it clear from day one that I thought David Moyes was the wrong appointment and was proved spectacularly correct. But I guess that only serves to illustrate my point further. If these men are not the right men for the job, then why do they get the job? I wasn’t alone in doubting Moyes’ ability to deliver success at Old Trafford and I certainly wasn’t alone in remarking, “Who the hell is Pepe Mel?!” What is as bizarre as the sackings is the fact that the people in charge of these multi-million pound corporations simply don’t seem to be able to go through a proper recruitment process. Fergie gave Moyes the job – how archaic is that? No wonder he failed to deliver what was required when he didn’t go through a stringent recruitment process as he would have done at any other organisation in any other industry.
I know someone who applied for a job at a dot com company recently. The company employs about 30 or 40 people. Before the interview stage he was required to submit a piece of work. Then he had an interview. Then he had to do some more work. Then he had a second interview. Then he had to do some more work and then, and only then, was he offered the job. Now this company isn’t huge, but they obviously get that it’s important to recruit the right people rather than just close their eyes, pin the tail on the donkey and look bemused when the person they hire turns out to be an ass.
Quite simply, football has gone absolutely mad. But the strange, perverse thing is that for all my ranting, I love it. I love the soap opera, and I love the drama. It improves the product for me. Perhaps I’m just as silly as those recruitment guys, after all.
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