By the year 2020, many believe that the publication of printed newspapers will be close to extinction. Is it therefore obvious and often evident that those at the heart of the industry will employ drastic measures to prolong this inevitability. We now live in an age where news stories are taken with a pinch of salt rather than as gospel, perhaps no more palpable than in the world of sport.
With the transfer window now under heavy sedation until January, the gossip columns have become eerily quiet as attention turns to events unfolding on the pitch. However, transfer rumours are a key attraction for football fans and so journalists simply focus on managers, the only personnel that can exit, join or even switch clubs. Not a weekend goes by without another defeat or failure to win resulting in story resembling how, ‘Boss X has only Y number of games to save his job’.
Few managers have come under more scrutiny than Andre Villas-Boas, who seems incapable of escaping the media spotlight. After it became clear that he was a far cry from ‘The Special One’, the press rejected him and immediately began orchestrating his downfall. His exit from Chelsea came unsurprisingly after the January transfer window, as his critics were now able to concentrate solely at the job in hand. Perhaps it’s naïve of me to suggest the same thing is about to happen again, but it remains clear that he is widely resented for replacing tabloid favourite Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane.
Speaking of Harry Redknapp, it appears that he is desperate to ensure his name remains in the headlines during this phase of unemployment. Whether this is purely down to the media’s affections towards him or the outcome of his agent working around the clock is unclear, but the recent reports linking him with the Ipswich job are quite frankly ludicrous.
The press have highlighted Redknapp’s close friendship with Tractor Boys owner Marcus Evans in a desperate endeavour to give the story an ounce of credibility. In doing so they have heaped further (unnecessary) pressure on Paul Jewell, who now has to waste time commenting on speculation rather than concentrating on reversing the club’s fortunes. Ipswich’s poor start to the season speaks for itself, there is no need to generate mass hysteria by adding a potential high-profile replacement to the mix. Perhaps I’ll be proved wrong when Redknapp is unveiled as the new boss at a Portman Road this week, but I highly doubt it.
Redknapp has also seen his name linked with a return to the south coast with Southampton. Putting aside the fact that his previous stint there went horribly wrong, would chairman Nicola Cortese really consider the future of Nigel Adkins – a man who has just won back-to-back promotions – after just five games? Sometimes I think the national press purposely try and test the intellect of their audience.
The one positive that emerges from such stories – the accurate examples at least – is how they highlight the worrying ineptitude of some chairman in the football league. Only today have The Venky’s decided to question Steve Kean’s leadership at the helm of their football club, despite the club currently sitting second in the Championship. This is surely the most inconceivable time to be considering changing management, were the owners simply waiting for the club to lose their unbeaten start to the season?
Regardless of this point, the tabloids must take the majority of the blame when people draw attention to how managers are no longer given a realistic time period at a new club. They target the inexperienced manager or the impatient chairman in an attempt to conjure an ‘exclusive news story’ that seeks only to sell a few more copies. At best it’s lazy journalism and is perhaps the key reason why so many managers have a reserved relationship with the media.
Form, however bad is temporary while class remains permanent. Some journalists would do well to remember that.
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