The perils of axing managers too early

Following the news that Phil Brown has just been sacked as manager of Hull City there has been a lot of talk about whether or not it was the right decision. Some fans think that this was the only alternative and that only a new manager could inject the confidence to save them from the drop. Others believe that he should have been sacked earlier to give the new man in charge (Iain Dowie) enough time to stamp his authority on the squad. There are even a select a few that think the man who took the club to the top flight for the first time in their history shouldn’t have been sacked.

I am in the group of people who think he shouldn’t have been sacked. The main problem with Phil Brown is that he comes across as a bit of a clueless character in the media and this is what lets his reputation down. Let’s not forget that it was a remarkable achievement to drag a team from the bottom of the Championship into the Premier League. Let’s also remember the fact that at the start of last season Hull were expected to do just as bad as Derby in their disastrous 07/08 season. Not only did they stay up last season (even if it was a bit lucky) they are also in with a shot of staying up this season.

The problem with football clubs is that they are too quick to get shot of managers as soon as a string of bad results occur. If they took a moment to look at the clubs who have kept faith with their managers they would see that these clubs are normally more successful. Sir Alex Ferguson has been in charge of Manchester United since 1986 and people forget that it took him until his 7th season in charge to win his first title. Elsewhere, one of the richest clubs in the world, Chelsea, haven’t won the title since Jose Mourinho left in 2007 and it is interesting to see that they have had 4 different managers in that short space of time.

One of the teams that have had great success in recent times on a tight budget are Everton. Their manager David Moyes is hailed as one of the best managers in the game for transforming them from relegation candidates to a team that are often in the European places. He has now been in charge for 8 years but people forget that in his third season Everton finished a place above the relegation zone with the lowest points total in the clubs history. At most clubs Moyes would have been sacked long ago.

I do accept that there are some examples of teams turning it round after sacking their manager midway through the season. Fulham looked doomed in the 2007/2008 season until they sacked Laurie Sanchez and appointed Roy Hodgson. Hodgson led them to safety and now Fulham are flying high in the Premier and Europa League.

But it is also interesting to remember Hodgson’s last appointment in the Premier League. In the summer of 1997 he took over the reins at Blackburn Rovers and led them to sixth in his first full season. Only four months into his second season Blackburn were bottom of the league and Hodgson was sacked. His reputation in this country was ruined for several years. But in my opinion four months of bad results doesn’t necessarily make you a bad manager and Hodgson has since proved this at Fulham.

It’s time that clubs actually gave managers a chance. They can’t perform miracles and even if they do have a great start at the club (i.e. Phil Brown) it’s inevitable that they will have a blip at some point (i.e. Phil Brown) and the important thing is to give them time.

QPR fans must be wishing the owners of their club could get this message. Since Flavio Briatore took charge in August 2007 the club has had 9 different managers and hasn’t really gone anywhere.

Written by Dominic Fleming

 


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