Short-termism might be an affliction of modern football, but that’s because modern football has the ability to change so quickly.
Just weeks ago Garry Monk was working miracles at Swansea. Having taken over from Michael Laudrup, he kept the Swans afloat in his first few months in charge and brought them to a top half finish in his first full season.
This season, his side started even better, playing some of the best football of the opening weeks, with Andre Ayew, Jefferson Montero and Jonjo Shelvey terrorising opponents, and Bafe Gomis on the end of everything.
But suddenly it all changed. It all seemed to go wrong. And at a club where short-termism has never been a big issue, suddenly the tide has turned against the young manager, and it has turned as quickly as it would at a lot of other Premier League clubs.
Whatever you think of sacking a manager before Christmas when you’re team is comfortably mid-table – even despite a very poor run of form – the fear is real. The fear of chairmen that the club they own will fall out of the Premier League and into the Championship, away from the promised land of plenty, and into a money-less world with only a paltry parachute payment to soften the landing. For most top division teams falling to the league below, the landing is anything but soft.
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And so Garry Monk is being touted for the sack, his team sliding down the table and closer to a relegation battle, and all the while fans, pundits and journalists are horrified that Swansea, a team who seem to do the whole managerial merry-go-round so well could be guilty of a reaction so knee-jerk.
After all, Swansea do the managerial merry-go-round so well mostly by staying clear of it.
But when you look around the table it makes sense that the Swansea board would feel the fear. The team has managed only three wins all season, two towards the start of the season and once when they beat Aston Villa right at the end of the Tim Sherwood reign.
A draw with Bournemouth and a defeat to Norwich isn’t just one point from two games against promoted sides, it’s poor form against teams who will find themselves in a relegation battle.
And yet, as Swansea slide down the table, the teams around them aren’t all losing too. They’re sacking their managers or bringing in new men, Sunderland and Villa, for example, are enjoying the dead cat bounce and dragging the swans ever closer to the battle below.
Nor is there any respite for Monk. Over the last month or so, games at home to Stoke and Norwich and away to Bournemouth and Aston Villa should have been chances to pick up points. Instead they managed just four points from that possible 12. And now they have to endure a harder run of games between now and Christmas. Liverpool, top of the table Leicester, Manchester City and high-flying West Ham are the four fixtures Monk has to negotiate before Christmas. He’ll be feeling a distinct regret at not gathering enough nuts before winter.
For a confident young manager with an attractive style of play, the hard part is knowing what to do in the slump. He hasn’t experienced it yet, other teams have figured out how his team play and figured out how to beat them.
If Monk is given the time to turn it around, he’ll have to look at that. He’s still young, has lots to learn, and the club he should be learning at is Swansea – free from short-termism and unrealistic pressure.
Relegation has always been the ultimate humiliation for a football club, but the Premier League has a financial micro-climate, and when you leave it you’ll suffer the effects. That’s why teams like Villa and Sunderland are changing things already, and why others will throw money at the threat of relegation in January, hoping it will go away.
If Swansea too decide to try and bribe the Gods of relegation, then that won’t totally be their fault. It’s the way football is these days. To avoid that, Monk needs to turn things around quickly. Given the fixtures, though, Monk might be replaced just as quickly as he was brought in.