A few weeks ago we heard clearly the message delivered by Ed Balls in his interview on the club’s end-of-year accounts. It didn’t make for great listening. Some phrases came to mind… ‘we are skint’, in the red, brassic, broke… however you would like to define our dwindling pot! It didn’t sound good.
‘Where has the money gone?’ A question I’ve heard on the lips of many fans this season…..
The loss of parachute payments, loss of TV appearance fees, a high wage bill and relegation cost us dearly. But these weren’t the only factors. However well Ed can (or cannot) dance, he couldn’t waltz around the cost to the club of severance pay. Most were accounted for, but the undisclosed fee for one Mr Neil was one not overlooked. And although there is no official word on how much Alex Neil received, a little look at the figures allows us to jump to our own conclusions.
Managers need to sign contracts and clubs need protection to retain their chosen ‘Gaffers’ . If the team performs it could draw attention and the risk of a club coming and poaching your key man could be costly by way of points on the table; however the cost to clubs when it’s not working, is also significant.
With the high turnover of English managers in the modern game, (60 left their positions between last September and June) – it’s amazing to think that in the early ’90s the average spell of a manager in football was three years. Are we too quick to move on, cut our losses and try a fresh approach? Does changing a seemingly under-performing manager make such a difference? Especially when more often than not we hear the same regurgitated names crop up for the vacant position, those sacked before for not achieving or getting their former teams to perform.
The so-called big clubs can look at existing managers, target the man for them and pay off the club, but in return the high achieving clubs look attractive to these ‘big guns’ knowing that money is available to fund incoming players of their choice.
Most clubs however have to hop on the managerial merry-go-round and hire cast offs from other teams, hoping they can now find their form, fit their team or build from the new manager ‘bounce’.
A few teams though are opting for a different route and are trying to find a rare gem of a manager from abroad or lower leagues; perhaps a cheaper option but risky business with the inexperience of learning a new league and adapting to a different style of play.
But these types of new managers need time… time to learn, to gel and to gain confidence in their newly promoted role. These type of appointments arguably have to be more long-term, They can’t be expected to transform a team overnight in an unknown league. Back to that ‘work in progress’ phrase again.
I recently listened to a former manager saying he believed yearly contracts could become the norm, but is this just an easier way for directors to solve short term problem with smaller compensations? Or is the answer that clubs should use more resources and money to find a better candidate than paying a large sum to get rid?
Clubs are not shy of breaking club records when it comes to buying players, so why not spend big on someone that can lead the way? There must be a shopping list of requirements needed – style of play, budget, former successes etc – and then if their top budget is used in securing the best man for the job this would likely be more productive, as opposed to another failure and a few months later scouring the market yet again in hope of another miracle worker.
We often despair when hearing of clubs sacking yet another manager but it’s not just the owners or board members. Fans are even quicker to judge. When you are on the receiving end of back to back loses or poor performances we are all just as guilty of jumping on that bandwagon. “Get xxxx out!” … “Sack him” … “He’s not up to the job … etc
Managers in the top leagues have enormous amount of pressure on them to deliver; whatever experience or background they have the expectations are sky high. We regularly see managers in front of the media looking a shadow of their former selves when results are not going their way. The pressure is enormous.
With players commanding high transfer fees and even higher salaries it must be a difficult job for a manager who is probably earning less than his players to come in and stamp their authority on the squad. Strong characters, superiority in the dressing room, player power are all things they have to contend with, so too the knowledge that it’s easier to replace a manager than a squad of players or, in some cases, even a single costly player.
So some managers are set up for a failure before their jobs have even begun. And we’ve seen supporters lambaste managers before they’ve even been officially appointed. There are just not enough Guardiolas to go round.
We – the fans – are indeed fickle and even if/when stability is restored, fans get bored and grow tired of the lack of ambition, of not wanting to be stuck as a mediocre team in a league or just a general lack of excitement.
The manager’s job is short lived and high in pressure and it’s all too easy to go from hero to zero; it all being played in large stadiums that resemble lions dens.
So… can we now see why the remuneration they receive when they are given the ‘heave ho’ is hefty?
Who’d be a manager?