Carousels of Doomed Fortunes

What a weekend of action! City’s title to lose. Mourinho’s continued inability to beat a top team away. Everton come back to finally win yet almost comedically throw it away as Watford’s Tom Cleverley misses a last second penalty. Can we relegate six teams this year please??

And now we find ourselves at the last international break until March. The fortnight off is beneficial for players needing a rest (unless they are suiting up for some nonsensical and irrelevant friendly, which they are so nevermind), teams on a slide and fans who need their weekends back. The layoff is detrimental to those sides in stride, a team coming off a crucial loss looking to forget and continue playing and fans who need their weekends to not go anywhere. Importantly, the break is an opportunity for clubs to reassess and for the brass to make heavy decisions. In football, that means the usual merry-go-round of farcical managerial sackings.

Why do we continue to do this? Most football fans couldn’t even tell you what a manager does; what a manager actually brings to the table. The media claim they know all. Are always fresh with opinions and are often responsible for the premature hype of unseasoned managers and the vitriol spewed that brings just fine managerial reigns to crashing halts. We all do it. And it’s a legitimately laughable practice. 

There’s no secret that nowadays managers simply have no time to grow or develop. It’s a results business and teams need to win instantly. That’s 2017 football. That’s the business. But it makes no sense! Just look at what is happening in the Premier League this very instant: West Ham sacked Slaven Bilić. The decision to relieve Bilić of his duties is not exactly the decision I have qualms with. The Hammers are wallowing in the relegation zone and the players (who in general need to take far more blame than they regularly do when form dips) have given up. The guitar wielding Croatian has not shown that he can masterfully turn this season around and the owners acted. It was coming. I said as much in my post here on GIYB a few weeks ago. So, if it’s not the axe maddening me, what in tarnation is it?? One word, two billion furrowed eyebrows: Moyes. 

David Moyes, that absolute nonce. His name alone sends shivers down my spine, which is still broken from having to carry all those Manchester United disappointments on my back thanks to an ineptitude of such an upper echelon it surely cannot be topped. Fucking Moyesy. The prat. Why and how is he employed? What have the West Ham board seen from Moyes post 2013 that would make him eligible for such a high profile position? The answer is: nothing, nowt. But that’s how this works. That’s how this carousel of steamy rubbish circling the full pockets of misguided and uninformed football team owners operates. 

After a fifteen year career managing Preston North End and Everton, David Moyes rightfully gained the respect and admiration of the footballing world. What followed was a nightmare of Stephen King’s IT proportions. He made the jump from Everton to the biggest sports team on THE PLANET and failed. He essentially single handedly ruined United. From there he quizzically continued finding employment, which is the point of this post, and continued to find abject failure. Moyes had a 28% win percentage in twelve months at Real Sociedad, somehow turning the stunning Basque Country into a locale to avoid. He followed that enormously unflattering catastrophe with an 18% win percentage after a season with Sunderland. He won EIGHT matches there in total. ELL OH BLOODY ELL BRUV. #superduperyikes

Yet, here we are. Now don’t get me wrong, David Moyes clearly has a skill. He worked with minuscule budgets and inferior talent to triumph at small Preston (winning the Second Division in 2000, his only managerial honour I should add) and absolutely reinvigorate Everton (although he won zero trophies there). You don’t just do that for a decade and a half off of blind luck. But he has simply done nothing since to even remotely intimate that he has that same drive and hunger and ability to succeed again. I truly wish him well and do hope his career gets back to where it was, but the blame of this appointment must fall on the system in place. 

You know the names. And you know their records. Owners are so sidetracked by the business side of football that they are removed from what actually happens on the pitch. There is a palpable distance present. So it’s natural that when things begin to go awry and clubs lose a few matches that the first instinct is always to question the manager. It is the easy option. Eventually, the manager goes. TAXI FOR MR. SO AND SO. His replacement? Well, hell if anyone is going to do any research so let’s see who from the list of names on the carousel is available. Sam Allardyce? Roy Hodgson? Alan Pardew? Tony Pulis? Steve Bruce? DAVID MOYES? Why do we continue with this?

The system rewards those who have done it. Those who have found a modicum of success and now have a name to satiate the fans. But most importantly, a name that makes the owners look like they know what they’re doing and that proper diligence has been performed. It’s nonsense. And it generally does not work. Yes, maybe you get a slight bump immediately and even make a run at a pot (remember when hero Pardew returned to Crystal Palace in 2015 and had them flying with a trip to Wembley for the 2016 FA Cup? He was made redundant by that December!). Maybe in the short term Allardyce saves you from the drop to the Championship. But then what? A few bad results later and they’re gone. It happens each and everytime. Look at the Premier League managers currently in their posts: besides Arsene Wenger who should not still be and likely soon will not be at Arsenal, it’s just a rotating cast of characters. It is difficult to keep up who is managing where. And this lark about results?? Chelsea toss managers routinely after titles. Where is Carlo Ancelloti? Antonio Conte would have been on the brink had Chelsea not beaten United this past weekend! And you want results, do you??? Claudio Ranieri masterminded one of the biggest and most triumphant upsets in sports history when he brought the Premier League title home to Leicester City in 2016. He was gone early in the new year.

This has to stop! Teams need to stick by their managers. You cannot have success at such a high level with the constant pressure of one mistake and you’re history. That’s what brings the nerviness to the play on the pitch. The staff feel it. The players certainly feel it. We all know the fans feel it. But it needs to end. How can it though? It’s the culture now that we are all used to. And expect. Blame the manager. When on many occasions it really isn’t the manager at fault. He bears the responsibility and gets paid to win football matches, yes, but everyone plays a part in the collapse. Nowadays it is common to see players revolt against management when points are being dropped or playing time decreases. If said player is a star then their voice matters. A few matches go a bit pear-shaped and now you have spoilt fans booing and calling for the gaffer’s head. Everybody is in the stands. The baying is unavoidable to anyone with ears. But this is the toxicity we are used to. Disgruntlement should lead to action by the board is the current mentality. 

We are so quick to denounce managers and so eager to anoint the new king. It is honestly quite comical. Ronald Koeman was everyone’s favorite manager just this summer. Journalists were writing about a possible Barcelona gig in his near future. Where is he now? Sacked from Everton, unemployed and picked apart by fans and the papers alike. {{To make my point even clearer, upon his sacking, David Moyes and Sam Allardyce were rumored to be in the running for the Toffees}} Craig Shakespeare was hailed as a perfect insider replacement for Ranieri who can get points and the lads to play. Where is he now? Sacked from Leicester, unemployed (likely writing sonnets like his pops Billy used to) and deemed maybe not a big enough character at a side that won the League just 18 months ago. #OHOK #ShakespeareBanter

We see it all the time. Always prematurely making our own managerial decisions. Look at Roy Hodgson. Three productive years at Fulham and then he’s next up for whichever big job becomes vacant. That ended up being Liverpool where he failed miserably. Hodgson would follow that up by being largely useless as England boss too. We couldn’t let him just be at Fulham. We have to snatch and build up royalty who just aren’t ready for bigger stages (in Roy’s defence, he spent two years at a much bigger club than Liverpool in the mid 90s, Inter Milan, where he led them to a UEFA Cup runners-up medal, if that’s your thing). Another example of many is Roberto Martinez or Brendan Rodgers, both former managers of Swansea. We just couldn’t let them excel where they were. They had been anointed by us. Martinez would eventually flounder at Everton and Rodgers would do much of the same at Liverpool. These are major elevations in position that end up stunting the growth of the manager (Martinez and Rodgers especially good examples of this). I understand the managers don’t want to pass up the opportunity to lead a much bigger club. To become a name. The paycheck! And I do not fault them. But it all comes back to the vicious cycle at hand. The bigger clubs should not even be in the position where a vacancy exists!

Clubs need to select a manger. A human being with a system. With a tactical sense that mirrors the vision of the owners. A system that is possible with the players on the books or new signings the manager will make. It is a combined effort that is necessary. Do not just go after a name. Put the effort in and find a fit. This manager needs to get along with the players. Not be their friend but command respect with discipline and confidence. Footballers do not need to be spoken down to (many nowadays with their early riches are too soft for any sort of confrontation), but will largely respond to organization and a wholehearted desire to win. The positivity of success will bleed through. Does this sound generic? Well, it should because these are the basics that a majority of the ownership committees are ignorant to. Managers need to manage. That entails shipping divas off. Escape yourself of those cancers. Because those cancers spread and players will have no issues with starting a revolution knowing the board will just sign a new boss. And when you have a manager that you are finding success with, which means different things for different clubs depending on stature, stick with him! If the season hits a rocky patch, stick with him! If there’s controversy in the dressing room, stick with him! A fallout with the press? Stick with him for fuck’s sake! I am not insinuating that you hold on for dear life and never let go of a manager, but am simply decrying for time. Give managers time! Give them space to create a structure that fits the man and the players. Surely one or two seasons is not nearly enough time to implement anything other than your morning coffee preferences?! Black, no cream, no sugar, I’m an adult.

But we won’t stop. This virus continues as we speak. The new annointees have already been picked and are linked with every single job opening on the islands. Sean Dyche of Burnley and Eddie Howe of Bournemouth, please rise. We are also two or three Huddersfield wins away from David Wagner getting the PSG/wherever he wants job. Why can’t we let them be? Why can’t we let them develop and season and continue to ebb and flow between the successes and disappointments of top tier life? Because we have for a year or two already? Is that enough? The spectators and media building these individuals up will be the same people calling for their demise the nanosecond a stumbling block is uncovered. It is in the best interests of the game to let these new talents flourish. Let us let them hone their craft and then make major strides forward. Please. 

And what about Mauricio Pochettino? The new golden child until Tottenham lose next and then he won’t be. I saw Poch linked with the Real Madrid job after Spurs clinically disposed of Los Galacticos last week. Yes, you read correctly: Zinedine Zidane is on the Real Madrid hotseat after picking up SEVEN trophies in less than a year and a half! This is madness! {{don’t get me started on Spanish fans and media and their treatment of coaches}} Pochettino is a wonderful example of managerial decisions gone correctly. Tottenham swooped in and hired him from Southampton, when he himself was the new crown prince (despite only being on the south coast for one season), and gave him time. He built a squad that plays for him in a system catering to their strengths of one superstar striker up front with a solid holding midfielder in front of the back line. A sturdy lineup (albeit one that lacks significant depth) that has room out wide to attack with pace. He has matured in north London. He has grown into a top class manager. But why are we trying to ruin him with jobs in environments that hold no regard for time and a comfortable space within which to work? Why can’t we just let him breathe? Tottenham should be renegotiating his contract and feeding him reassurances of a transfer market war chest in the summer. Keep him happy and let him manage. And if he wants to leave? Great! I am not here saying the managers themselves are innocent of any wrongdoing. I do not fault ambition, but with the success rates being so low of late, I do fault piss poor decision making in chasing money and headlines and falling flat. We are all culpable. 

It’s a frustrating business, this whole football mess. I am wary of the levels of stress involved and the financial burden that undoubtedly contributes to said anxiety. I know that the owners have a difficult job. It cannot be easy dealing with your employees and the media and the fans and anybody with the internet. But nobody asked these entities to get involved. Now that they are they have to answer to the masses. The lackadaisical nature of their operations is infuriating. The hiring and firing of managers in this manner simply put cannot be the apt resolution.

We as fans and lovers of this gorgeous game need to do our part as well. Let’s just all relax. I’ve neither never understood booing nor have ever condoned it. It’s small. Let’s instead exert some patience and think more broadly when we are asserting opinions. Is Sean Dyche a good manager? Yes, it certainly seems so. Is he ready for the Champions League? Probably not! Lest we forget Burnley were relegated under his watch in 2015, too. But, nobody wants to hear that. They just want to move him up the chain, laud his expertise at staying put in the Premier League with a smaller club and then question his ability when whichever allegedly larger team he signs for starts to flail. How about Eddie Howe? Also, a wonderful manager who has impressively guided Bournemouth from League Two to League One to the Championship to the Premier League. At 39, is a star in the making. Is he ready for the jump? Who knows but lest we forget he got snatched up by Burnley in 2011 (a predecessor to Dyche), a step up in league and quality of opposition, did not succeed and went back to Bournemouth after a little over a year. Just pointing that out. 

I am not saying do not promote managers but am plainly asking for increased diligence and logic when making decisions. From everyone directly or indirectly involved. Let’s all be smart and allow managers to actually develop before we just throw them into the fire because their name is new and buzzing in the press. And also, if stuck in the position of needing a manager use your smarts and meticulously hire someone with eyes on the future. Do work! Interview candidates. It’s a difficult process, I know, but it is necessary. And it proves to be worthwhile. Hey, maybe even get some minorities involved! We know lots about football! 

To finish the point on Dyche and Howe, teams like Burnley and Bournemouth should be following in the footsteps of Tottenham by making sure the managers are happy and are aware that reinforcements will be purchased. That the future is bright with you at the helm. And then when the time is right as a manager, you step up to never step back down. 

Moyes, LOLZ. 

Enjoy the friendlies and good luck to all the countries battling in the playoffs for a place at next year’s World Cup!

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