The Football League Paper - - BIG INTERVIEW -

I MUST de­clare a per­sonal in­ter­est in Brian McDer­mott’s sit­u­a­tion. I know Brian, we get on well, and like me he moved from the south to the north to work. But none of that per­sonal in­ter­est has any bear­ing on what I am about to say.

Brian took Read­ing into the Pre­mier League; he is proven in his abil­ity to win pro­mo­tion from the Cham­pi­onship. He took over a big club in Leeds, punch­ing be­low its weight, and he in­her­ited a big ex­pec­ta­tion. He clearly had a big job on his hands.

Peo­ple re­ally don’t seem to un­der­stand what ‘a big job’ means. Foot­ball is not like any other walk of life. A boss can walk into most com­pa­nies and ex­ert in­flu­ence. If he or she doesn’t want a key per­son, he or she can fire him or her. There is a price. But change can hap­pen.

In foot­ball, it isn’t like that. In foot­ball, a man­ager can in­herit a group of play­ers, who are of a kind.The agenda might be the easy life. The party life. The gam­bling life. How many times have we heard about the drink­ing cul­ture that Fergie in­her­ited?

But in foot­ball, con­tracts pre­vent a man­ager from mak­ing the changes that are needed.You can be forced to work with a dress­ing room for months or even years.

If lads who are hang­ing on to the easy life de­cide to re­volt against a tougher life then it is not easy. Es­pe­cially if they are strong char­ac­ters. They know how to bully a dress­ing room, to stop lads go­ing your way, to un­der­mine your po­si­tion with key fig­ures in the club and how to bat­ter your name in the me­dia.

This is all aside from the is­sues of whether the squad is good enough or has the right in­gre­di­ents to play the type of foot­ball that a man­ager wants. It might take sev­eral trans­fer win­dows for a man­ager to bring in the type of play­ers he wants. And some­times, trans­fers don’t quite work out.

I don’t know the ins and outs of Brian’s sit­u­a­tion yet. But I am ab­so­lutely cer­tain he will be well into the big job that he in­her­ited. I bet he has learned what needs to be changed at Leeds and I will bet he is work­ing hard and smart to make the changes.

Bad re­sults don’t in­di­cate he can’t do the job;they could in­di­cate that he was do­ing what needed do­ing and was fac­ing a bit of in­evitable dif­fi­culty. Change rarely hap­pens with­out prob­lems. Even Man United are find­ing that.

Con­ti­nu­ity and be­lief in a man­ager is a lost art in foot­ball. Nine months to do a big man­age­rial job? Come on!

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