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Football Manager Roulette

Friday Oct 19, 2018

 Premier League clubs continue to gamble!

 Football Manager Roulette: The Risks Of Chopping And Changing


 With more and more headlines every day about Jose Mourinho’s apparently tenuous position at Manchester United, we’re faced with a question: Does changing your manager actually guarantee you a change in fortunes? If Mourinho was fired and replaced with Zinedine Zidane, is there any guarantee that the situation will turn around? Do players perform better if they know there may be a new man around the next corner, who may instantly shuffle them off if they’re under-performing, or is it better to have a trusted and constant point of contact who can help them grow and develop?

 The Recent Case Against

 The most obvious case against firing a manager for a few weeks worth of poor results would be West Brom last season. A couple of months in, with results in decline and hovering above the relegation zone, they decided the time was right to part with Tony Pulis after three years in charge. The board, in their wisdom, decided that an injection of fresh blood would give the team the impetus it needed to pull together and stay out of trouble. You probably don’t need us to tell you that it didn’t exactly pay off.

 It seemed like a strange move from the start. Historically, when a team is in trouble part way through the season and they need someone to steady the ship, they phone Tony Pulis, not kick him out of the door. There were even some wags in the media who suggested they’d only fired Pulis in order to hire him again and enjoy the sort of bounce he usually brings a club when he walks through the door. And then there was the questionable choice of his successor. Alan Pardew isn’t exactly a man with a reputation for solving problems. He himself had recently been fired by Crystal Palace. It’s one thing to pick up a manager who’s been fired by a team far above you in the table. When you’re signing up a reject from a team of roughly the same standard, questions are going to be asked. And they were.

 Pardew was a horrendous failure. He never truly got off the ground, and he himself was collecting his P45 before the end of the season after a miserable run of eight straight defeats. By the time Darren Moore took over as caretaker, and the Baggies finally remembered how to win a game, they were relegated.

 In the eyes of most fans, sacking Pulis was a bad call. He may not play pretty football, but his wealth of grit and experience would probably have dragged West Brom over the line and kept them in the Premier League. They could always have fired him over the summer anyway. They panicked, and they paid a very expensive price.

 The Recent Case For


 Speaking of Crystal Palace, they managed to play it completely the other way in the same season. When they fired Frank de Boer after only four Premier League games, many casual observers thought the board had collectively lost their minds. They were, after all, the same people who’d appointed de Boer in the first place over the summer. How could they be so sure about a manager one month, and then positive that he was wrong for the job whilst he was still getting his seat warm? At that point, with Palace bottom of the league and the club subject to ridicule by the media, relegation seemed like a certainty.

 Enter Roy Hodgson, a man still reeling from the ignominy of England’s Euro 2016 exit to Iceland. Although he’d started his playing career at Crystal Palace in the 1960s and therefore had links to the club, he never truly broke into the first team, and the fans felt no connection to him. He was also seen as a man who was out of time - a dinosaur from a bygone age who’d lost his grip on the nuances of modern football. Despite the doubts, he was about to prove everybody wrong.

 Nurturing the mercurial talents of Wilfried Zaha, shopping intelligently, and playing to the strengths of his individual players, Hodgson turned the club around. By the time the season came to an end, relegation was such a remote prospect that most fans had forgotten it was ever a risk at all. The old master had brought stability and optimism to a club which had almost resigned itself to relegation by Christmas.

 So Does It Work?

 ”Sometimes” would seem to be the best answer to that. Too often - and definitely in West Brom’s case - we see managers sacked when there isn’t an obvious replacement available. Firing Tony Pulis when you’re facing a relegation scrap is like kicking Ronnie O’Sullivan off your pub snooker team because he’s had one rough game. It made no sense. That being said, sometimes, a board might see something in a manager that nobody else can. Who was truly looking at Roy Hodgson as a potential savior?

 It feels like there are fewer capable managers out there than there used to be. If Mourinho was to be fired at United, who out there is truly a big enough name to replace him? All the best managers are in steady jobs. Zidane may have won the Champions League at Real Madrid, but struggled badly in his last league season there. Does it really seem like he’d fare any better at Old Trafford?

 Firing a manager mid-season is always a gamble. And if you’re going to do that, you might as well go to a online casino and do it properly. Managing a football team is very much like gambling with a casino, the odds are always against you and sometimes you strike the jackpot, but most of the time you walk away from slots like Fluffy Favourites losing a lot of money. Firing managers lets underperforming players and dithering boards off the hook for lack of effort and poor decision making. It may be time, finally, for football to create a managerial transfer window. If a manager is hired in the summer, they should at least be allowed until Christmas to show what they can bring to the role. If clubs, fans and players knew the boss would be around a little longer, the pressure of the role might even start to ease. People tend to perform better when they’re not spending every second worrying about their job! But what do you think?

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