There are many reasons that Sir Alex Ferguson is the most decorated manager in Premier League history, but undoubtedly, one of the major ones was his two decades of tenure.
Whilst managers were leaving left, right and center, the canny Scot was able to select his own retirement date. Like most football managers, Ferguson’s start wasn’t amidst a blaze of fire; but the board persevered and their reward came from stability.
Stability is the reason Man United were able to dominate the Premier League for so long, and Arsenal have proven to be a hugely successful club in the same era. Who knows where Chelsea would be in this equation if Jose Mourinho hadn’t had to leave the country to win more titles before returning to his rightful home at Stamford Bridge.
The Premier League landscape reminds me of my time working on the British Railway. After being handed the job as a Railway Trainee, my handshake was followed by the immortal words.
“Congratulations son, you now have a job for life.”
Privatization soon followed and Railwayman were deemed surplus to requirements. Businessmen were needed to run a business. The changes were cutthroat, they went deep and the whole thing very nearly fell apart.
It’s the same principle in football. Business and profit has moved up a notch. Football clubs are no longer football clubs. The acronyms of F & A have been replaced by EBITDA.
When West Ham lost 3-1 at home on the weekend, the scythe hanging above Sam Allardyce’s neck fell at least an inch. He is now the 6/4 favorite to be the next Premiership manager to end up on the dole.
If he is the next manager to leave then he will be the 24th manager to be sacked from an English club this season, and the eighth to leave the Premiership where there are only 20 clubs!
The problem has become so severe that of the 92 English clubs, 51 of them have a manager in situ with less than one year’s experience at that club.
It seems the people who are so hell bent on running a football club like a business, are forgetting their own business sense. Reports emanating from the Associated Press put the price of these sackings at around $100m per year in compensation, and that doesn’t include the intangible costs of of disruptive player development and performance of the team.
The League Managers Association (LMA) have even installed a 24-hour helpline and Lifescan programme to help deal with the pressure that living in this environment has on their managers.
The whole cycle has become a joke as a series of failed managers line up to be hired by the next football team who has just sacked a failed manager. Nobody new ever gets a chance, and how can you blame them when 55% of all first-time managers, knock the management game on the head after their first boot up the ass.
When I used to play Football Manager on my Commodore 64 you would be given a goal by the board at the beginning of the season.
“Finish in mid table”
I wonder what on earth the likes of Malky Mackay, Steve Clarke and Andre Villas-Boas were seeing flash up on their screen before the season started. It’s a joke. It really is. And the thing that makes me laugh the most is there must be a bunch of complete airheads who keep making the wrong appointments and then escape scot-free.
I understand that stability is the key to success, and yet success is also necessary to blow some air into stability, but let’s get realistic here please. There are only a few clubs that are ever going to win the Premier League: Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City and Arsenal.
Since the Premier League was launched in 1992 there have been 278 managerial departures, of which around 140 have been the victim of the boot. Of the 20 men who currently occupy the hot seats, in the Premier League, only three teams have managers who have been in their positions for two years.
Arsene Wenger is one, Sam Allardyce is next (the current favorite to be sacked) and the final manger is Alan Pardew, who was recently quoted as saying:
“I’ve been vulnerable from day one here and I’m still vulnerable.’
All eyes now turn to Old Trafford and the fate of David Moyes.
Does the club that showed unnerving faith in Sir Alex Ferguson remember what made them great? Will they show the same faith in Moyes and build from the base of stability; or will they do what so many around them continue to do and act like Albert Pierrepoint?
16/1 says United are no different than the rest.