The managerial merry-go-round in the Football League
Whether the club are striving for promotion (Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday in League One) or battling to remain in the league (Tranmere of League One and Hereford in League Two), chairmen across the country are getting a little bit hot under the collar at the moment. But one has to ask, with so little time left in which to change a side’s fortunes and with the January Transfer Window shut, what does a new manager with new ideas bring to a team in requisition of a push?
There is no debating that a new boss does inject optimism around the place and gives everyone a clean slate, which means the disillusioned fringe players are no longer, for a time at least, classified as reserve at best and begin to show the passion required in training to earn themselves a call up.
The favourites every manager has, too, are no longer guaranteed a spot and there are no comfort zones anymore. A position where in a side battling for survival has numerous players in their comfort zone is possibly the worst possible situation for the club. No hunger, no fight, no need to step up the mark. All the things you don’t need. The new manager also stamps his mark on the side and fortunes do generally improve, for a while at least. But that’s the sticky point: a short period of upturn in results.
When a boss is drafted in with a task of stabilising the side or propelling it to a new level, in, say, 12 games, they can’t change the way in which the side plays, can’t bring in new blood, can’t form a relationship with his players in such a short period of time, and, ultimately, pays the price when they fail. And then the vicious circle starts again.
Personally I believe sacking Lee Clark at Huddersfield was the correct move. He had bottled it twice in the play-offs and despite bucket loads of cash he had failed to spend wisely enough to earn promotion. Sacking him in February, though? A poor decision.
Simon Grayson, Town’s new boss, doesn’t even know his new players. The players now have to adapt to a new boss with a third of the season left. Grayson has to find out what players play best where, especially considering all of Clark’s backroom staffs were fired too. He can’t change the way they play now, and hasn’t even been in League One in the past two seasons. He doesn’t know the quality Charlton, the two Sheffield teams and MK Dons, the Terrier’s promotion rivals, have. How is he meant to mastermind victories over them in the pecking order in such a short space of time? At least Clark knew his players, the opponents, the quality of the league and played effective, winning football.
Ronnie Moore at Tranmere, another example, has returned to his old stomping ground to replace Les Parry with Tranmere Rovers just two places and a point above the trapdoor. Why, when Tranmere were situated just four places above the relegation zone in early January, did they not sack Parry then? The cracks were beginning to show with just one win since the end of October. Based on the immediate appointment of Moore, they had him ready to fill into Parry’s boots at a clock of the finger. By appointing him in January when he had over 20 games left to get to know his team and buy new players, should funds let him, of course, that would have been a darn sight better than the 13 games Moore faces to keep Tranmere up? It doesn’t make much sense.
Keith Curle at Notts County is currently enjoying the aforementioned honeymoon period at Notts County, but how long can that last? He has obviously found a winning formula and the players are clearly revelling playing under Curle thus far, but what happens when, say for argument’s sake, his star winger is sidelined for the rest of the season. He doesn’t know the capabilities his fringe winger occupies, or the quality the club’s exciting youth team winger has. Martin Allen did.
With everything there are exceptions to the rule and I generally hope all new managers achieve success at their clubs, just not at the expense of Hartlepool! But my question stands: what do clubs really get when showing their manager the door for a new boss who has so little time to make the owners’ ambitions become a reality?
By Hartlepool United blogger Chrissy Marshall-Bell. Tweet him @cmbell310 for more football discussion.