Massacre of managers can be avoided
NOT A great season so far to be a Football League manager. With Felix Magath’s sacking by Fulham and the “mutual understandings” reached by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Micky Adams with Cardiff City and Port Vale on Thursday, that’s nine changes already across the three divisions.
It took until the end of November to reach that figure last year and at this point 12 months ago, Greg Abbott’s sacking by Carlisle United was the only notch on the departures bedpost.
Twelve and a half per cent of those in charge on August 9 have already left their posts and we are in the middle of September. If this rate keeps going, just a dozen of the Football League’s 72 will remain by next May.
And to think, we could easily have been looking at a greater figure had Russell Slade not got a temporary reprieve at Leyton Orient in midweek, and Karl Oyston had found the replacement he was looking for at Blackpool and not patched up his differences with Jose Riga.
Slade’s treatment by Leyton Orient’s new supremo Francesco Becchetti, by the way, beggars belief. Slade, remember, is the man who led the club to eight consecutive wins at the start of last season and missed out on promotion to the Championship (the prize Becchetti is demanding this season) only in a penalty shoot-out in the League One play-off final.
To publicly give him one game to save his bacon is the managerial equivalent of Russian roulette. In the end a draw at Notts County was deemed sufficient to extend Slade’s tenure to yesterday’s game at Scunthorpe United, but he does now seem to be juggling with jelly.
Before we start marching on the next gathering of Football League chairmen and enlisting Amnesty to open a Cruelty to Managers Department, it hasn’t been a completely one way street (although, after his experience at Leeds United, Dave Hockaday would have every right to disagree).
Mark Robins felt he’d lost his dressing room after Huddersfield Town’s opening day mauling at the hands of Bournemouth. Guiseppe Sannino’s man management methods had certainly eroded his at Watford and, despite asking him three times now, James Beattie still won’t tell me his future plans, but it does seem certain that the decision to leave Accrington Stanley, was his alone. The two managers I do feel sorry for are Joe Dunne at Colchester United and Graham Kavanagh at Carlisle United.
Solskjaer and Magath knew full well what they were taking on and failed miserably.
But Dunne and Kavanagh were both victims of the lack of resources they were asked to work with. Dunne replaced more senior pros with his own youth team graduates and Kavanagh slashed costs to counter dwindling crowds.
The job is definitely getting tougher and finding that right fit is getting harder and harder; a club that matches your personality and fuses it with the right resources and, most importantly, realistic expectations.
Sometimes you get that by default, sometimes it comes out by accident and sometimes meticulous planning – but getting those elements all lined up is becoming an almost insurmountable challenge.
It’s time for football clubs to re-evaluate their place in the food chain or, rather, understand that if they have spent half a century in the lower two divisions and one quite recently in the Championship, that is not now their natural position.
GONE: Fulham manager Felix Magath and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer