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The perils of Football League management

Paul Fletcher | 10:00 UK time, Thursday, 1 January 2009

Ever heard of Fred Everiss?

Possibly not, but he has the distinction of managing a club from the top four divisions longer than any other person. Everiss was appointed secretary-manager of West Brom in 1902 and held the post until 1948, although in a move that might seem eerily familiar to supporters of certain clubs it was the directors who often picked the team.

Everiss tops the longest-serving list on the League Managers' Association (LMA) website. The highest placed current Football League manager is Crewe's Dario Gradi and even that is something of a cheat given that he is only holding the reins for Gudjon Thordarson. The period at the helm referred to relates to the 24 seasons Gradi was in charge between 1983 and July 2007.

In fact 1902, as it turned out, was a good year to be appointed a manager. Sam Allen lasted 31 seasons at Swindon and Syd King 30 years at West Ham.

Gary McAllister, Colin Calderwood and Paul JewellWhy the history lesson?

Well, as we move into 2009 I thought it was time for a little reflection. Uppermost in my thoughts was the number of Football League managers who parted company with their clubs over Christmas.

Leeds opted to dispose with the services of Gary McAllister on 21 December and Colin Calderwood was given his cards after Nottingham Forest's 4-2 Boxing Day defeat to fellow strugglers Doncaster.

Calderwood's future had been the subject of speculation for some time but I cannot help but sympathise with the timing of his dismissal. Turkey left-overs and the boot in the same day, not exactly merry Christmas, though I suppose that football clubs cannot allow the season of goodwill to have much impact when tough decisions have to be made.

Barnet boss Paul Fairclough announced that he was standing down at the League Two club after almost five years in charge at Underhill on 27 December.

Then, on Sunday, Paul Jewell decided that enough was enough at struggling Derby and resigned.

Bournemouth didn't want to be left out either so they sacked Jimmy Quinn after just 121 days in charge at Dean Court with just minutes left of 2008.

Further investigation showed that 19 Football League clubs have either sacked or lost their manager so far this season (with Bournemouth sacking two managers).

We are roughly halfway through the season. There are 72 Football League clubs. Maths, as with many subjects, has never been my strongpoint but I make that to be 26.38% of Football League clubs that no longer have the managers with whom they started the season.

The 2008-09 season, incidentally, kicked off on 9 August. Between then and Jewell's resignation on 28 December a manager has lost or left his job on average every 7 days.

Four Football League clubs - Hartlepool, Blackpool, Forest and Derby - are currently looking for a new man to try to revive their fortunes.

Forest are in talks with Billy Davies, while Charlton only gave the manager's job at The Valley to Phil Parkinson on a permanent basis on Wednesday.

Thordarson has only just taken over at Crewe and the same applies to new Swindon boss Danny Wilson, who wasted no time in finding a new job after Hartlepool dispensed with his services after two-and-a-half years at the helm.

A study conducted by the LMA and Warwick Business School analysed trends in football management between 1992 and 2005 across the top four divisions.

The study suggested that, broadly speaking, the amount of time a manager lasts in a job was coming down, it was 2.72 years in 1992 but 1.72 in 2005.

Exactly how many Football League managers are sacked per season does fluctuate but according to LMA's 'seasons movers ' section the figure has not dropped below 30 since the 2004-05 campaign.

So what does it all mean?

I spoke to Tranmere boss Ronnie Moore and Accrington manager John Coleman - and they both agreed that management has become a progressively harder job over time.

This is not because they put in more hours or travel more or have to deal with more off-the-field matters. It is because expectations have changed; there is an unbending desire for success.

The season Accrington won the Conference they trailed the leaders by 13 points at one stage and a supporter pinned a notice on the home team's dug-out. It said: "Go now Coleman and take the rest of your scouse mates with you."

Of all the managers in the Football League only Hereford's Graham Turner has been in employment at his current club longer than Coleman, who took over at Accrington in August 1999 - and since 1998 Turner has been chairman at the Bulls.

"In society in general you have got a culture of wanting everything now, paying later," Coleman told me. "Chairman are put under increasing pressure but a team is rarely built overnight."

Coleman feels that radio phone-ins and website messageboards, where users can post anonymously, have increased the pressure on chairmen to act when times are tough.

Moore agrees that supporters can have an impact.

"When supporters start shouting for a manager's head you need a strong chairman and I don't think there are too many of them around," said Moore.

"Once supporters turn on the players and then the manager it is not too long before they turn on the chairman - and then it is goodnight."

As such Moore is adamant that there is no more important relationship at a club than that between chairman and manager.

A manager needs time to build his own team and familiarise them with the way he wants them to play.

"I think it is crazy when people get the bullet after six months," said Moore. "If you can build a team in six months then you are another Sir Alex Ferguson - and there are not many of him about."

Coleman points to his first season in charge as an example of the benefits that can be reaped when a chairman holds his nerve. Stanley were a Northern Premier Division One side. He had a good squad and a large wage bill but his team struggled initially and were 17th at Christmas.

"Anyone with itchy fingers was going to pull the trigger then," said the 46-year-old.

Accrington went on an unbeaten run after Christmas and won the league on goal difference. Coleman eventually took Stanley back into the Football League.

"At Accrington I have found that you can raise people's expectations but you cannot lower them. The more you deliver, the more people want," added Coleman.

Likewise, listening to Moore I got the impression that he thinks many supporters fail to understand that success at a club does not necessarily equate to pushing for promotion.

"Sometimes you have to look at gates and revenue and work within those restraints. It is very difficult," said Moore, who took Rotherham from League Two to the Championship.

And both believe that the instant pressure to deliver does not allow young managers to deliver their skills and grow into what is a most demanding job.

"The problem is that they don't get the time," said Moore. "A young manager who does not get it right can be out of work in six months - and then where is he going to go?"

Coleman reckons he has made hundreds of mistakes at Accrington but has been able to learn from them and become a better manager.

Eventually he sees retired players coming into the game as first-team coach with an elder statesman figure helping them rather than as an out-and-out manager.

The era of Fred Everiss is long gone and management in the Football League is a tough and unforgiving profession.

Who knows how many more will be gone by May, but consider this - how many clubs will really benefit from sacking their manager this season?


  • Comment number 1.

    It's a good job Manchester United didn't take this short term approach with Mr Ferguson.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think that the gaffs should be given more time. I mean look at Micky Adams he had a really bad run of form with Brighton but he was given time to turn things around and that is what he has done now.

  • Comment number 3.

    The problem with the gripes about "not having enough time" however is that other managers have been in post for less time and with significantly smaller resources and have drastically outperformed some of those sacked. Teams can be built overnight if the manager is good enough.

    Colin Calderwood is a prime example. If you compare him to say, Roberto Martinez at Swansea. He was at Forest just under a year longer than Martinez, spent more on
    Joe Garner alone than Martinez has spent in total, yet just about scraped up last year and couldn't even get them into Championship mid-table. McAllister has more resources at his disposal than any other League One club yet has made a complete pigs ear of things this season.

    It makes less sense for a club like Bournemouth to push the panic button, but chairmen and owners (never mind fans) will not sit idly by for year after year of underachievement when they see others do better. There's no shortage of candidates willing to step into the breach, so clubs will keep chopping and changing until they find the right one.

  • Comment number 4.

    The guy you show in your picture is not John Coleman. It is his equally long serving assistant Jimmy Bell.

  • Comment number 5.

    As at 26 October 2008, 54 of the 92 managers of Premier League and Football League clubs had been in the job a year or more, and 33 had been in the job two years or more.

    Today, the figures are 52 and 30 respectively.

  • Comment number 6.

    You can forgive younger managers for a lot providing there is some indication that they are learning from their mistakes.

    With Colin Calderwood he was not only failing in this regard, but actually demonstrating in some areas that nothing was being learned at all.

    As a Forest fan I loved having a young, intelligent, up-and-coming British manager, and many of the club's current troubles should be placed just as much at the feet of Chairman Mao (sorry, I meant Nigel Doughty) as Calderwood's, but anyone who saw the loss against 10-man Norwich and the capitulation against Doncaster on Boxing Day would agree that CC was having little or no effect when it mattered.

    He has made some excellent signings but, seeing as he was only one member of a "transfer committee" within the club, it's impossible to tell just what proportion of that credit he is due either.

    It's true that some managers are sacked before they've been given a fair crack - Big Sam at Newcastle for example - but in this case I think Calderwood went at the right time.

    I hope Billy Davies, a man with an excellent track record in this division, is given the same time and backing from the board that CC was.

  • Comment number 7.

    The irony with Colin Calderwood is that the following game Forest climb out of the bottom 3 for the first time since September. With a few more games against teams around us (Charlton being the our first league game in 2009) the opportunity was there to get further up the league.

    No doubt that the Forest board acted in light of the truely dire performance (and not the fact of another home defeat) against Donny.

    Although I have been frustrated by some of the football that we have produced under Calderwood at times, I feel a bit sorry for him and would have like to see him given more time.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's incredibly patronising to state that it makes less sense for Bournemouth to push the panic button.Why does it make less sense? Because they're rubbish and should expect to accept the loss of League status?

    Anyone who had even a vague awareness of lower league teams would know that that the long - suffering supporters of AFCB have consistently gone the extra mile to raise funds to keep the Club in business.All most of us ask for is commitment from the players and a manager who cares and tries to play football. Jimmy Quinn has proven to be tactically clueless and appears to be incapable of adding any value / improvement to the players available and those that he bought in.

    We'd like to remain in the League - we're perfectly entitled to express our dissatisfaction at the manager's performance.Three members of my family have been watching the team for nearly 150 years between us. Quinn's team have played the worst football we've ever seen.

    If changes had not been made the Club would have been out of business by the end of the season.Enough is enough......

  • Comment number 9.

    It's so, so easy to say stick with a failing manager if it's not your business, and hence your money, involved.

    Teams who do well by sticking with their manager, do so because they chose the right man in the first place and can see enough positives to remain confident in their decision. They are not successful because they stick with an obviously failing manager.

    Take a company like Woolworths ?
    In the opinion of the thirty odd thousand shop workers that are about to lose their jobs, how long should the management have been allowed to continue with the ludicrous strategy of presenting 21st century shoppers with row after row of pic&mix when entering the store?

    So it is with football management. When it becomes clear that a manager has lost the plot, he has to go or the business itself is at risk.

    At boardroom level, football is not a game!

  • Comment number 10.

    Perhaps clubs should look carefully at what Wolves are doing. After years of chopping and changing they decided to :

    Give the manager time with a three year plan, that everyone buys into - including the fans.

    Invest in young, hungry players rather than paying of the odds for players on the way down from the premiership.

    Having patience.

    It looks like this plan is now working - although some fans did find it difficult to curb their impatience at times when things were not always going well.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think it is too easy to blame the 'I want it, and I want it now' culture that does to varying degrees exist.

    Seeing a championship club can hit the pocket. Even I will not part with the kind of money required to follow a Premiership club. I do not know how most people do it. The football world, the players, managers live in a world that has little or no connection with the rest of us. It is the price they pay and I cannot see them giving it up very easily.

    You part a man from a goodly chunk of his hard earned to see his team, he is going to want success.

    A chairman comes in, a person usually having spent a while making his pile, to expect him to pour it into a bottomless pit of excessive wages, he is going to want success.

  • Comment number 12.

    Managers need to be given more time, simple as that really.

    As a Doncaster Rovers fan, there were numerous people calling for Sean O'Driscoll's head soon after he replaced Dave Penney. The doubters were proved wrong, as he was instilling a set of value and a footballing ethos that wasn't there before.

    The result? Rovers now play football to rival anyone in The Championship, apart from in the final third, where there's a general lack of quality.

    That said, on the whole the fans understand the predicament, and back O'Driscoll and John Ryan (chairman), as they don't want to see the club spend outside their means with no guarantee of success.

    The fans here remember where the club was 15 years ago, and don't want to go there again. Perhaps some other clubs fans need to experience that before they get on the manager's back.

  • Comment number 13.

    At Bournemouth this season, we define 'success' as finishing 22nd or higher. The Barnet game on Sunday was a 'must win' against a team which had not won for over two months. 0-2, along with the way it came about, made it clear that this season was liable to end in 'failure'.

    The idea is to keep a 'good' manager for as long as it takes, but to get rid of a 'bad' one as soon as possible. The board made their decision.

  • Comment number 14.

    "he thinks many supporters fail to understand that success at a club does not necessarily equate to pushing for promotion."

    That does depend on the club, of course. Many years ago, after Bobby Gould had just taken over at Wimbledon FC, I bumped into him at a champagne bar in South Kensington. I said that all we Dons supporters wanted was "don't get relegated and don't get knocked out of the 3rd round of the FA cup". (That was the year we won it...)

    Supporters need to "place" their club - work out where the club should be, and adjust accordingly. For example, if Hull survive another season or two in the Premiership and then get relegated - so what? Being in the Championship is still higher than they have any right to expect, and long-time fans of Hull should be overjoyed that they ever had the chance to see their team play at the top level. (Hull for example only - I'm not suggesting that Hull supporters in particular are unrealistic.)

  • Comment number 15.

    Post 10 - ordinarily I'd agree with every word but Bournemouth don't have 3 years.

    Post 12 - I guess we can't have O'Driscoll back then?

    Post 8/13 - dead right! The mystery to me is why patently bad managers manage to get more work.

    Since Quinn arrived we've been tactically naive and lack pace. Little seems to have been done to bring in any loanees to fix it.

  • Comment number 16.

    "it makes less sense for Bournemouth to push the panic button. Why does it make less sense? Because they're rubbish?"

    Pretty much yeah.

    It's going to take longer to turn round a club in the state Bournemouth is in that it would to take over Forest for example. With all due respect, Arsene Wenger could take over at Bournemouth and still the best you could hope for is to scrape survival.

  • Comment number 17.

    "with all due respect"??
    You've actually shown none at all, enjoy your childish snipe. All clubs have a personality of sorts, something that their supporters feel an affinity with. If a player, manager or chairman doesn't recognise and accommodate this then they have to go.

    At Bournemouth we've always played good, attractive football. The brand of the game Quinn was playing was never going to be tolerated, even if he had the tactical nouse to make it work. Which he didn't

    As far as even Arsene couldn't make a difference, that's just ridiculous, anyone who can get our players believing in themselves and playing to their strengths, ie on the ground, will start getting points on the board.

    This lack of interest/knowledge about the lower leagues is one of the reasons they're in such a mess. The pyramid may be crumbling at the bottom right now and I for one think it's a crying shame.

  • Comment number 18.

    A very sad state of affairs, imagine where Man U, Arsenal or even Everton would be now if they had sacked their manager after two seasons.

    What it ultimately comes down to though, the moment things go slightly wrong it's the manager that gets the blame. And more often than not he's the one to be shown the door.

  • Comment number 19.

    All this prem/first div bias... What about Arnold Muhren? As good as your dad was Muhren was playing top rank football for his club and his national team. Winning Euro 88 when he was about 37. I think he was performing at his peak a little longer than Zola and Gordon Strachan.

    Then there's Johnny Metgod, not at the same level but played with more nous than anyone in the post Gaza Tottingham side in a Uefa cup match.

  • Comment number 20.

    "Maths, as with many subjects, has never been my strongpoint but I make that to be 26.38% of Football League clubs that no longer have the managers with whom they started the season."
    Stop showing off with false modesty, Fletch - you used a calculator, admit it.

    "Eventually (Coleman) sees retired players coming into the game as first-team coach with an elder statesman figure helping them rather than as an out-and-out manager."
    The influence of the retired-player assistant/coach is crucial. It seems to me that Sammy Lee at Liverpool is a prime example at the moment.

    Top managers need objectivity and perspective, whatever their credentials, and the old experienced head can give them this. What they also need though is the capacity to recognise and act on the contribution of experience.

  • Comment number 21.

    At boardroom level, football is not a game!

    However, at boardroom level, the football business may well be a game!

    Abramovich got rid of Maurinho and Grant. Is Felipe better?

  • Comment number 22.

    Who's Thodar Gudjohnsen?! Shouldn't that be Gudjon Thordarson?

  • Comment number 23.

    Steve....Forest till I die

    In Colin Calderwoods case I would have to say that after the Debacle that was Doncaster at home Colin had to go. I,ve been watching Forest for over 40 years and it was the worst performance I have ever wittnessed from any Forest team. And Tactically his decisions were poor we went 3-0 down within half an hour, one of our central defenders went off with illness and he put a attacking midfielder on in his place. what was left of our deffence didnt have a clue what to do, and we could have been 6-0 down by half time with all due respect to Doncaster Rovers this team were bottom of the league at the time....

  • Comment number 24.

    manchester united have the best team in the world and alex you hav done a fantstic job just stay for another 3-4 (or more years) would be great

  • Comment number 25.

    The mistake is not to sack but to appoint in the first place. If they recruited for a reason and had an idea of what they were trying to acheive they would surely then have grounds for sacking or not other than short term results. If not basing it on 15 results is fair enough. None of these guys offer any more than any other manager and you may as well get the boost from the occasional boost.

    Most of these managers are not trying anything but buying or selling players and saying go out and perform lads. They don't bring through young players or support the clubs youth system/policies or have any great tactical nouse as they show on TV when punditing.

    They often spend, often lots, money on trivial upgrades - i.e. they reject players on far less than they themselves are sacked to spend precious resources in positions they should be able to develop players or have acceptable place holders. When no obvious player is available or they are set at major positions they will bid up full backs, holding players with poor technical skills (can't pass), nothing wide players and U21 internationals.

    The top clubs have stability as the players they buy are normally less risky and more exposed - even a bad year is 4th or 5th so no imperative.

    Comparing S'Alex with anyone is apples and oranges and he was damn near sacked after a few years - at that time he spent a tenth of the revenue on a short full back (Parker). Players at smaller clubs cannot waste resources like that and get away with it.

  • Comment number 26.

    This is an excellent column.

    An example of a patient chairman would be Paul Scally at Gillingham who has over the last 13 years backed all the managers at the club. In fact of the 7 managers we have had only one has been sacked (Tony Pulis) and that was for personal differences.

    However I cant help thinking that Scally is being too patient at the moment, as our current manager Paul Simpson is not up to the job. Under him we have gone right back to where we were 13 years ago in the bottom division. He has destroyed the moral of loyal servants to our club such as Nicky Southall last year and Andrew Crofts this season and failed to build a squad with any leaders in it, which is all too evident when we constantly get trouced away from home.

  • Comment number 27.

    nice column.

    it seems to be very rare these days that any manager gets any time to anything. Upon taking a job now they are basically joining a massive lottery in which everything from referee decisions to player availability to wind speed can come into play.

    The last sentence is only too true in its questioning of how good it is for clubs to sack their managers.

    It was good to see out of any club the one with the most money decided to give their manager a bit longer to sort things out.
    Hughes has now got a chance to go on and really become one of the greats.
    A platform where he has a good side, some stars and potential stars and enough cash and a good youth program to really make start Manchester City in a seriously positive direction.

    Look at what happened with Ince, the game that Allardyce takes the credit for was his, Allardyce does not walk in and sprinkle magic dust on the players and they miraculously win the first game he has in charge, the fans singing blah blah, in a few weeks everyone will realise Allardyce has inherited big problems that were already evident when he took over.

    The funny thing I think many forget about Sir Alex Ferguson is that he was a game away from the sack at one stage, it was an FA cup tie in 89 against Nottingham Forest that they won 1-0 and then went on to win the cup.
    It was a widely held belief that if not for this trophy he would have been sacked that season.
    Good thing the executioner's hand was stayed eh?

  • Comment number 28.

    A big so what in my opinion. Most managers get well paid for the risks incurred and better rewards for being fired too. If I was bad at my job I would be gone in an instant and I wouldn't get the end of my contract paid off either. Even being good doesn't guarantee I will keep it. If the company cut back, like most people I am gone and on the dole. It comes down not to pressure, not even to peformance really when you consider mid table is safe, but still useless performance wise. It's money. It's buisness, it's not even about football.
    To be honest I would love a crack at football management.

  • Comment number 29.

    mind you Stevie Coppell is probably a good example of what happens if you stand by your man or woman for that matter! why are their no women in Football management?

  • Comment number 30.

    I think it is crazy. Calderwood for instance did well in getting Forest back into the Championship, and for them to get rid of him so soon into the season is just crazy. Your first season in a higher division is all about consolidation. What exactly did the forest board expect from them this season?

  • Comment number 31.

    Having supported tranmere since the 60's I can fully support Ronnie Moores view that success doesn't always mean promotion.

    Historically Tranmere have successfully operated in the middle upper reaches of the 3rd tier, with lapses into the 4th tier. I can remember standing with only 1500 fellow die hards for some games and taking less than one bus load to away fixtures. They and many others seem to do best financially when pressing for, but not achieveing, promotion as they can then generate gates of 7000 or so. When in the bottom reacheds of the championship a few years ago they were getting only 5000 gates. It must be preferable from a ££'s point of view to operate on league one wages and 7000 gates than championship wages and 5000 gates.

  • Comment number 32.

    Karlos (point 26)

    As a Gills fan I would have thought you knew that Paul Simpson is the Shrewsbury manager and Mark Stimson is the Gills boss. Players like Andrew Crofts and Nicky Southall (who I find strange you include as when fit he generally starts) are at the end of their teather with Gillingham and with the debts that our esteemed chairman has built we cannot afford their ludicrous wages.

    And because of the debts built by our esteemed chairman Mark Stimson is trying to manage the club with one armed tied behind his back because we cannot afford the players I am sure he would like to sign. Do not forget that it was Stimson who, at previos clubs, signed players like Freddie Eastwood, Michael Kightly and Aaron McLean who have turned out to be pretty decent players so he has does have a decent track record.

    Maybe you should re-read Ronnie Moore's comments to appreciate how difficult Stimson's job is.

  • Comment number 33.

    As a Bournemouth fan I wish we could have kept our Manager longer...Sead O'Driscoll rather than Quinn.

    Quinn had to go, he didn't seem to have a clue about how to play football, we were playing hoofball, but leaking goals and therefore leaking fans.

    A club in the financial situatin we are in HAD to win against Blyth, so why play one up front.

    New Board, New Year, New Manager... New Hope!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    It all depends on perspective. McAllister got fired because of repeated mistakes that he seemingly refused to learn from, and because the squad he managed is one of the best, on paper, in the division. It is his failure to get the best out of the players, and failure to rectify obvious problems (such as Leeds' inability to defend set pieces) that led to his sacking.

  • Comment number 35.

    I can't speak for the rest but Calderwood should have been given more time. He clearly had not lost the dressing room and had assembled a very capable - but very young - squad. Young squads need time to develop and grow as a group. I think too much has been made of the defeats against 10 man Norwich and the first half performance against Doncaster. These things happen. Even the best teams lose matches that supporters think they should win. Someone is now going to reap the benefit of Colin Calderwood. The chairman should be ashamed of pandering to a vocal minority when the vast majority of thoughtful, intelligent people were behind what CC was doing. A touch of the 'Mike Ashley' is how best to describe the chairman, I feel.

  • Comment number 36.

    Different expectations for different clubs. For example, Leeds’ sacking of Gary Mac was fully justified. A club of their status should be hovering around mid table and spend yet another season in the third tier. That is just unacceptable.

    If Leicester were in the position Leeds find themselves in, I really doubt Mandaric would have kept him on and he would probably have sent him his P45. After all, he has a drawer full of them.

    Hartlepool, for example, sacked Danny Wilson. Why? Clash of personalities? When I watched them they played decent attacking football, lacked cutting edge a bit but went about their game the right way and they were a pleasure when they visited the Walkers’. What exactly are Hartlepool expecting? Promotion push to the Championship?

    Managers will get sacked accordingly. If they are showing signs of promise and are on the right track, then they will remain. But if, like McAlister are losing 5 games on the trot to smaller clubs, then it is really time to act.

  • Comment number 37.

    Paul - maths may not be your strong point, even with the aid of a calculator. Isn't it 25% of league clubs who don't have the manager they started the season with (with Bournemouth sacking two managers!!)?

    Otherwise great stuff though :-)

    I suppose the question about benefitting from changing managers needs consideration of the different stakeholders understanding of a 'benefit'

    Football is a business, with big money at stake even in the football league, so the chairmen want to at least make sure they've got money coming in that exceeds their expenditure. On top of that they might be involved with the club to make serious money, to raise their profile, or (maybe just in the PL) because they can afford to have it as a 'toy'. Either way they know that they have to keep the fans happy, or the cash might start to dry up

    Fans want to see their clubs either playing good football, playing winning football or both. If it's just good football they want, they might settle for not getting relegated. We'll see if Bournemouth fans who state that they just want that are actually happy if that's what the rest of the season brings them. They also want to be able to identify with their club, after all they make a huge financial and emotional commitment. That can happen easily if a team is very successful, as we like to be associated with success, but it could happen in other ways too like greater involvement from the club in the local community

    Also interesting how one comment talks about some managers proving their worth in a shorter period of time. Does that prove anything? If we say of players 'form is temporary, class is permanent', why do we put so much stock in the short-term performance of a manager, and could 121 days really be enough time to judge? Some of the best have taken years to 'get into their stride' at a club

    But we live in a 'quicker, faster, NOW!' world, and unfortunately time is not a luxury that the chairman and the fans are prepared to extend to the manager

  • Comment number 38.

    Whats even more stupid in Hartlepools situation is that Chris Turner has taken his job..... he is terrible !

    As a Wednesday fan weve had them both and Wilson was by far the better. He just struggled with the big players and the way he handled those got the fans offside, whereas Turner just had no clue.

    Were in the unfamiliar position of sticking by our manager.... Wednesday are usually the first ones to panic !

  • Comment number 39.

    some very good points being made here

    I firmly agree about fans understanding where their club is within the pecking order. My club (Barnsley) has historically been in the second tier of English football but was fortunate to have one season in the top league.

    The club gained a lot of extra supporters for that year (and the year we got to the play off final - damned Ipswich goalkeeper!). These supporters do not have the patience and often the experience to know that things take time. In recent years, the club has been in free-fall, in and out of administration but have won promotion back into the second tier, where the club should be. Its now about consolidation, and avoiding relegation, becoming a force within the division.

    Barnsley has gone through a lot of managers in the last few years because they are searching for the quick fix for success. I am not suggesting that the managers who have come and gone were not given sufficient time, nor am I suggesting that they would ultimately have been successful because there are some many other contributing factors.

    The point is, if the current manager was appointed by fans, he would have gone years since. Fortunately, he was appointed by the chairman who has a bit more sense than looking at the short term and we are seeing the benefits

    You cant buy overnight success no matter how much you want it

  • Comment number 40.

    This is a good and well thought out article. It's basic truth is borne out by a number of the posts, which simply demonstrate the cloud cuckoo land in which most fans live.

    Post 3 from the Swansea fan is a great example. I might be wrong, but the inference is that Roberto Martinez has built a team overnight on a shoestring. I'm no expert, but I don't think so.

    It's been a long hard haul for the Swans since the perennial underachievement of the mid eighties onwards. Only with the new stadium and serious investment has success arrived. RM is a part of that but good foundations had already been laid by Kenny Jackett and others. Plus he knew the club inside out - continuity works.

    Whether you agree with that example or not, it can be done. As a Notts County fan, I now accept that we ultimately paid a high price for the immediate and stunning success of Warnock in 89-92. What I didn't do then was enjoy the miracle while it lasted - I strongly urge all Hull, Swansea, Doncaster fans et al to do that now. You are currently all punching well above your weight and if you're lucky it will last. If you're not it's a short trip to non-league. Just ask Oxford and Cambridge fans, amongst others.

    We all want immediate success, but for smaller clubs, if it's possible, that means there's a price to pay. It took me a long time to adjust my expectations after the Warnock/Pavis era, but I had to.

    The comments from Bournemouth fans are hilarious. My wife's a Cherries fan (what a cheery football household, eh?!), so I'm acutely aware of their slide. I don't know why, but they should have a bigger fanbase than they do as the only league club in Dorset. Historically, they are a third division club and have been anchored there in recent years. Their current predicament is the culmination of years of club mismanagement - over ambitious chairmen aiming for the Championship instead of putting the club on a sound financial footing. As a club they are now paying the piper.

    They have sold their ground (built on prime real estate land) to one of the board member's companies. They have changed ownership more times than I can count because as soon as a businessman thinks he can be the man to arrange a relocation and overturn the covenant (to keep the land for football) then he'll be rich. When he realises he can't (or not without absorbing huge losses first) then he's on his bike. Paul Baker, anyone?

    Wake up Cherries fans. The results didn't help, but Quinn went because Baker's gone and he was Baker's man. Sacking Quinn will solve nothing. Bond's team were a sensational watch for the last 10 games of last season, but still went down. Anderton was massive this season, but didn't want to risk ending his career with a relegation.

    Success for AFCB this season is staying up. Pretty football is irrelevant on your budget and with your club ownership the festering mess it is. Adjust your expectations now or suffer later.

    Giving a manager time does make sense for smaller clubs like Bournemouth - don't forget how little most of these clubs can actually afford to pay.

    I wish Quinn's successor all the luck in the world, but his job is already nigh on impossible. All you can do is give him time.

  • Comment number 41.

    Its no good banging on about sticking with your manager when results on the pitch are dire and you go home exasperated. after another poor performance.
    We live in an age -like it or not- when everything and everybody in the game is under the microscope - articles such as this demonstrate this.
    I would suggest even SAF would have been sacked these days after failing to deliver in the first few years of his reign at ManU.
    As for my own Club Hull City - in response to Speedoo99 - we have been inthe second tier of English footbal for two thirds of our history and the CCC is therefore certainly NOT 'higher than we have any right to expect' Furthermore to plin68 we may be punching above our weight at this moment in time but full houses every week this season have demontrated that we have the fan base to stay in the PL.

  • Comment number 42.

    #40- plin68-

    I agree completely with your comments regarding the poor management at boardroom level. Hopefully this new board will bring some sorely needed stability to the club.

    As for the comments about Quinn, you can't have watched a game this season! I think I speak for most AFCB fans when I say poor football would be tolerated if we were getting good results and the bad results would be tolerated if we were trying to play proper football. However, we were getting neither.

    Losses at home to Macclesfield, Barnet and Exeter are unacceptable, as well as draws with Morecambe and Blyth (who we eventually lost to, playing one up front, never stringing 5 passes together and bringing on the awful Pitman who promptly got red carded).

  • Comment number 43.

    therewesaidit I think in the main that's a very astute assesment of football managers. However it's no different in all walks of life. It's easier to get things wrong compared to getting them right. You just have to look at the appointments of generals and their general staff through history to see how the majority can not even put together a coherent plan let alone effect it. Even greats like Fredrick the Great was close to absolute disaster through impetuous assault and only saved by the portune death of a Tsar and his successor being a fully-grown infantile germamnophile.

    What I'm getting at is that although to be successful requires luck at times, to sustain it is fully down to class and greatness. Ferguson may have succeeded at one of the richest clubs in Britain of it's time, Aberdeen, but boy did they succeed. Through luck or not at Man U he's been constantly proved right and any manager that rebuilds 3-4 teams is great in my oppinion.

    In my oppinion Paul Jewell is an average to good manager. From outside looking in Derby were in an impossible position to turn around; only a great manager might have got them out. At Bradford he'd taken over a team that had been assembled nicely by Kris Camara and Lennie Lawerence previously. At Wigan they were a wonderful team; admittedly I don't know the history behind that apart from Bruce having done well. I think the guy will get another chance at champ level, his two successes have been remarkable and these reputations create an impression that sustain people's opinion; if Braford had been followed by drastic failure at a financially buoyant Sheffield Wednesday would he have got a good chance so quickly?

    Still even Jewell managed to fall into the old management idiot trap, sign Nathan Ellington who'd performed for him before. Now this guy's temprement was shown to be suspect at Wigan and his subsequent clubs. Did Jewell ever watch him at Watford? He was their worst player all season, and he wasn't in a team that couldn't make chances. Really managers wasting money and a loan fee on a lazy, Justin Fashanu fading player is unacceptable. Then he signed a game but useless forward from us in the name of Luke Varney. If he'd have done this early in his management career he'd have been tainted with failure. Wasting millions like this is unacceptable. So why should most managers stay around?

    If managers on average last 1.74 seasons then why are they signed to three and a half season contracts? Surely rolling, or two years, or options on future years. Our worst manager in recent history Alan Pardew was signed to a three and a half season contract. Why? Why did the club not sign him to a contract reliant on prem survival? Why did it not have a clause for significant re-negotiation if relegated? I can't see why such a massive settlement fee was in the contract regardless of whether he was in the prem or the champ. If a man is competent and confident of success why can he not accept a clause that says he can be sacked if he's in the bottom half of the champ by Xmas, or some similar performance target? If the guy's good enough to keep you up, but doesn't then he's good enough for nothing certainly in monetary terms.

    So then why has Davies been signed to a 3 and a half year contract? He's already proved he can waste more money than Steve Coppel or Phil Brown yet assemble the worst ever Derby team. Why not a two year contract, one year extra if he keeps them up? If he can't get Forrest up from league one he deserves to be sacked.

    Here I come back round to the history of most people being utterly incompetent for the job. Sure I think I'd be found out in this cauldron but I'd certainly take care of my teams money a whole lot more than most mentioned; whilst applauding Coppel's intelligent investments even if it meant we were relegated. Coppel's had a budget and kept within it, but perceived success or not he made millions for Palace and Reading on 5 figure investments.

    Regardless of oppinions I would always seek a manager who had done that. I thought Pardew may have but after seeing the investments he made with us I realise he was lucky at Reading whilst I knew from watching West Ham it was more fluke than anything there; god I wish he'd done his fluke with us. Still because he was such a success with Reading and West Ham, at least perceived, people will give him another chance: I pity that future team.

    PS Paul Parker was an exceptional player, both at full back and at center half/sweeper. Hardly a bad investment, he was a great tackler that faded mainly through injury at a great club but he was far from a failure. Considering Gordon Strachan, Alan Wright and many other fb's, midfielders and strikers from that era were smaller, it's a bit ridiculous to question his ability on size.

  • Comment number 44.

    #42- soton_cherry

    Yeah, you're right. I haven't seem them this year (unless you count Blyth on TV - what was Pitman doing?!)

    I think I was perhaps a bit harsh. My core question is whether you would accept dreadful football and survival, or the classic Cherries passing game but go down?

    It's a tough one. At Notts we had Steve Thompson's unwatchable side but finished top half which actually felt like success after nearly going down the previous season. We replaced him with Charlie whose side are great to watch but will probably finish below that. I'm with you - I'd take relegation as long as they're worth watching. The BSQ isn't so bad - with the TV money it's arguably more lucrative and you get more coverage (if you've got Setanta).

    Quinn probably wasn't the man for you, but we'll never know now if his unappealing brand of football would have kept you up. Of course dwindling budgets may mean you can no longer afford to buy decent passing players. I don't know if Tubbs was any good, but that deal's been canned now.

    Just a shame that Bond chased Fletcher out. His commitment alone could be worth 15 points (but not sure about his tactical nouse!)

    For what it's worth I think you'll stay up on goal difference from Grimsby.

    Up the Cherry Pies!

  • Comment number 45.

    I'd be happy with decent footy and poor results, not sure how I'd feel about going down. I still think of us as a third tier club. Maybe going down would mean a barnstorming year and we could go up twice, but at the same time why shouldn't a second half the season like the last quarter of last season have the same morale boosting effect

    The problems are confidence and commitment, you're right, Fletch in the changing room would certainly address those issues

  • Comment number 46.

    I'd be happy with good football and an obvious future for the club.

    That's an obvious difference to Peter Taylor's supposed passing teams but no future as soon as he makes a transfer move. Need's to be balanced with some nous in the transfer market.

  • Comment number 47.

    To equate modern football - ESPECIALLY Premiership Football, with common sense and good business practice, is ridiculous in the extreme.

    Due to the greed and moral corruption present in the game (at this level) today, normal rules of conduct and business can't sensibly be applied.

    By their own doing the Football Authorities have produced an avaricious giant that swallows decency and fair play in a single gulp!

    OF COURSE Managers SHOULD be given a fair 'crack of the whip'. However, the penalty for failing to make the top 17 of the Premiership is unimaginably harsh - from a decency point of view! With Player power being what it is, teams relegated to the 'lesser leagues' lose their best players quicker than you can shake a stick and the Club loses not only status but the wherewithal to regain that elevated position - most usually.

    Maybe, just maybe, a financial crisis will being sense and sensibility back into Football, but it isn't that way - at present. It's a case of the Devil take the hindmost, and the pox on all others! Every ruse and ploy HAS to be used, to shake up a failing team. Changing Managers has proved a most effective way of doing this, for decades.

  • Comment number 48.

    Great postings from supporters who obviously know the game.

    As a Bmth fan, I can understand that many people looking on will be amazed that we have sacked two managers in a season - very unlike us!

    But the football AND the results have been dire under Quinn. Fair enough, I would take his rubbish hoofball for a season if we were winning at the same time, but we are not...each weekend we seem to plumb new depths!!

    Lets just hope Eddie can do a good job and keep us up, and put this whole sorry saga behind us.. UTCIAD!!!

  • Comment number 49.

    One of the perils of management is unwarranted hysterical sensationalist media reporting for the sake of a headline.
    Paul Ince, black role model and icon came under the severe scrutiny of BBC journalists, it's one or two Referee decisions that really make the difference. A despairing atmosphere created by the media and he's sacked. What about creating sensationalist hysterical headlines for the administrators of the game that do not deserve to be in charge of the beautiful game, the futility of the yellow card ban and the pro foul, the ability of a team to appeal a monumental decision during a game, headlines to garner progress. What we get is so called expert pundits and professionally trained journalists telling us 4-5-1 or 4-4-2 nonsense and that Paul Ince didn't have the credentials to manage at the top level when the reality is but a few Referee decisions and we have the weekly repetition of the injustice farce. Blaming the Ref. Ridiculous shambles is the reality. Paul Ince sacked by the media, Black icon and role model.

  • Comment number 50.

    As another Boscombe fan, I must add that my hope for this season with 17(seventeen) points deducted, was to finish 3rd from bottom. I had no belief that our players are better than opponents, or that as a team we would stay up easily.

    However, I do demand (?!) a style of football sadly not forthcoming by our outgoing manager. I'll keep turning up to every game regardless, but many have stopped bothering due to one-up-front "hoofball" which has not only been dreadful to watch but has provided few points either.*

    Now that one of our own, Eddie Howe, has been given the job, I sincerely hope we can move on and get behind the team AND management for the remainder of this season. Staying up will be a great achievement from the position we are in.

    Best of luck to the team, management and all fans travelling to Darlington tomorrow.

    *Bury turned up at ours recently and tried to play football, rather than most opponents who put 10 men behind the ball and hit us on the break. We beat them in one of our best performances of the season. I hope Bury get promoted for playing the game in a way that at least tries to entertain.

  • Comment number 51.

    It's ironic the author has picked on Bournemouth for sacking two managers in one season as before this season started, we had had five managers in the last 24 years.

    I firmly believe that if we hadn't had 17 points deducted this season, Kevin Bond would've been given a lot more time than he was. The fact that we had most of the division a massive headstart meant that we needed to hit the ground running, and we didn't do that.

    Jimmy Quinn was never the right appointment, and I'm glad that the board had the balls to hold their hands up and admit to that. Hopefully Eddie Howe will be given until the end of the season at least - if he can get our squad playing to their full potential, we can very well still stay up.

    Up the Cherries!

  • Comment number 52.

    All this is crap.

    The teams that give managers time and succeed because of it succeed because they got the right person for the job, NOT because they stuck with them.

    There are plenty of opposite cases where teams have stuck by their man and ended up losing out as well, yet we never hear about that do we?

    There are two reasons for the high turnover of managers in this country.

    1. The idiotic refusal to work with a director of football - Football clubs today can not be managed by one person. Any manager who tries to be in charge of training, recruitment, contracts and decision making will quickly find out that he is devoting inadequate time to all of those things. Therefor it makes sense to allow the Manager to get on with the job of strategising alone, leave the day to day coaching to the coaches, leave the scout netweorks to the DoF, leave contracts to the chairman.

    The reason Ferguson have been so successful (apart from his obvious talent) is the support he has got from those around him. Peter Kenyon and then David Gill effectively took on the DoF role at United; Carlos Quiroz, Brian Kidd and not Phelan/McLair took on the coaches role. Being able to trust other people with thezse responsibilities gives Ferguson a huge advantage.

    2. Rush appointments - Too many clubs go out and find someone who is available rather than who is the best. If they took time to properly find a person in the frist place, even if that meant running with a caretaker for a few months then things would be so much better.

  • Comment number 53.

    It's ironic the author has picked on Bournemouth for sacking two managers in one season as before this season started, we had had five managers in the last 24 years.

    I firmly believe that if we hadn't had 17 points deducted this season, Kevin Bond would've been given a lot more time than he was. The fact that we had most of the division a massive headstart meant that we needed to hit the ground running, and we didn't do that.


    Sorry but 17 points is not insurmountable, the problem is that you only have 24 points from 23 games. At that rate even without the minus you would be in the bottom 6 come end of season.

  • Comment number 54.

    17 -"This lack of interest/knowledge about the lower leagues is one of the reasons they're in such a mess."

    That's bit rich you throwing that at a Swansea supporter mate, considering we were in the same division last season. I would imagine there are loads of Jacks keeping tabs on your club this season, seeing as we've been in a similar situation ourselves a few years ago (although admittably without the points deductions). From the outside it your frequent managerial changes seem reminicent of our own forays with the bottom of League 2 so maybe Lone Rangel knows what he's talking about?

    And by all means, as someone who goes to the games every week, put him right if he is off the mark but don't suppose it's a lack of interest in the lower leagues. Blimey, you'll be suggesting Swansea fans are a bunch of glory supporters next!

  • Comment number 55.

    Post 53 - Even without the points deduction I'd have been happy with bottom six this season (as long as it was the top four of the bottom six, of course). We've got no money - even before the deduction I had no delusions of grandeur that we'd go straight back up.

    Who do you support, Hackerjack?

  • Comment number 56.

    I have little sympathy for Colin Calderwood. We had to endure three years of awful negative football here at Northampton under his reign, when he squandered a fortune that should have assured us of promotion after just one season. He then walked out on us to the City Ground after we had been promoted. His loyalty has been repaid in spades, not that we should shed too many tears in this tough economic times given his reported £650k a year salary.

  • Comment number 57.

    The bit about expectations is right, Dario Gradi did an interview and stated that it was the supporters that got previous boss Steve Holland the boot. But if a club has a season or two of failure then it does affect the attitude of the supporters. At Crewe they had managed 8 out of 9 seasons in the Championship and were 'punching above their weight', but relegation, followed by a terrible season (only stayed up because of the point deductions of Luton and Bournemouth) has left the fans disillusioned and for the 1st time in my life following Crewe they were chanting for the manager out! My point being really that failure on the pitch does have some repurcussions off it - to be fair to Crewe's Directors they gave Holland over 500k to spend in the summer a large amount for our club and he simply didn't deliver - so harsh it maybe - but that is life in general.
    NB They did offer the sacked manager a Academy director position - which he declined!

  • Comment number 58.

    #52 - Hackerjack

    "All this is crap" ?

    Good to see you're not making sweeping generalisations.

    Apart from that you appear to know which clubs have fully working crystal balls - "The teams that give managers time and succeed because of it succeed because they got the right person for the job, NOT because they stuck with them".

    I thought the point of the article was that managers these days are not being given the time to demonstrate that they are the right person. So for example, in today's climate, Alex Ferguson would not have been given the time to prove his mettle. His 'obvious talent' is only obvious in hindsight.

    Some examples of your 'stuck by him but still suffered' point would be good. Unless Derby and Watford are in the play-offs come April I can't think of any particularly relevant examples.

    I really hope you're not a Manchester United fan - you're hardly in a position to comment from experience if you are. When Ferguson's retired, give it a few years and then we'll see how good the Old Trafford crystal ball is.

  • Comment number 59.

    No Fergie's obvious talent is not obvious in hindsight. His feats at Aberdeen were in the area of great in an era when Paisley and Fagan were doing great things along with Clough. He would have had a chance to prove himself again. Whilst Man U would have eaten another manager or two. Ferguson was almost great before Man U. People knew that in this era or any other you get another chance because of that.

  • Comment number 60.

    Just a couple of points about the situation at Hartlepool :

    First for AliDon

    "Hartlepool, for example, sacked Danny Wilson. Why? Clash of personalities? When I watched them they played decent attacking football, lacked cutting edge a bit but went about their game the right way and they were a pleasure when they visited the Walkers?. What exactly are Hartlepool expecting? Promotion push to the Championship?"

    Leaving aside the patronising tone, why shouldn't we push for the Championship ? We were 8 minutes and a dodgy pen away from the Championship a couple of years ago pre-Wilson - why not now ?

    Secondly, I'm not sure the "poor Danny Wilson" line stacks up. There had been a strong suspicion in the town for a while that Wilson was looking for a move away and a stronger one immediately prior to his "sacking" that Swindon were interested in him, so it was no great surprise that he found another club quickly. If his loyalty was in question I'd rather the club moved him on sooner than later.

    I didn't mind Wilson actually and if anything his selections were less incomprehensible this season than they were this time last year when, having seen the teamsheet, we had no particular idea how the 11 would actually line up - but hey-ho - "poor little Hartlepool" will just have to struggle on to the 4th round of the cup and the prospect of our 3rd premiership scalp of the season.

  • Comment number 61.

    a point for the Nottingham Forest situation - we wewre founded in 1865 and from then untill mid 1970s when Brian Clough took over we had 13 managers (i think Cloughie was the 13th) and after he retired in 1993 we are now on our 14th manager since then (including caretakers).

    i think this is indicative of football in england as a whole, but it just goes to who that when the pressure is on, people tend to let the buck stop with the manager, rightly or wrongly - if each of these managers were so bad at their jobs, they'd never work again, and we'd be left with no one wanting to manage football teams.

    Good luck Billy Davies - lets hope you can stabalise the helm at the City Ground.

  • Comment number 62.

    As Bob Paisley said, "There are two types of football manager. Those that have been sacked and those that will be sacked". Fans can be hopelessly over ambitious. It makes me laugh when a manager, because his team are facing relegation in the Premiership, gets the sack, when a) he has no budget, b) is competing against teams with a massive budget & c) we all knew they were going to be relegated at the start of the season anyway. Someone has to be relegated and only one team can be champions. This misplaced ambition, and short termism means that teams are increasingly going abroad, for managers and players, and home grown talent is not given the opportunity to develop.

    On the other hand, I cannot think of any other profession, where you can consistently fail and still get offered another job. I can think of a number of managers, who've made a good living getting teams relegated.

  • Comment number 63.

    i hope notts county give ian mcparland time we not gonna go down this year unless we have a disasterous second half to the season this was not gonna be a year for promotion we only just escaped relegation last year.
    its only 6 years since we came out of administration which we was in for 18 months notts reputation took a pounding during that time
    this is the first time since administration that we have looked like a football club and end of the season finally gives him chance to clear out steve thompsons players and finally build his own


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