The protest at the weekend against Steve Kean at Blackburn after only four games of the new season demonstrates the instantaneous demands of football supporters. I don’t for one minute believe that Kean is the best manager in the league but it still appears harsh to protest against a manager who is trying doing his best for the club and who actually kept them up last season. Shouldn’t the blame instead be placed on the Venky’s who appointed him on a long-term deal especially after sacking Allardyce who would have surely ensured survival?
This growth of foreign investment in English football has made owners increasingly impatient for results and has consequently increased the threat of managers losing their jobs. Managers are made scapegoats for the bad management of a football club with the unfounded belief that a change in management will reverse the fortunes of the club in question.
On Monday, League Two side Plymouth Argyle announced that Peter Reid had been dismissed as manager despite giving everything to the club. Pilgrims chairman Peter Ridsdale still thought it was right to sack Reid after a poor start to the season, all Reid has done for club off the pitch was forgotten to the general disgust of football fans everywhere.
There is no doubt that the business of football is an volatile industry and this season has seen a high number of dismissals before teams have even played games and the average tenure of manager reached an all-time low last season with managers being given less and less time to deliver success on the pitch.
Undoubtedly there will be a large number of sackings in the next few months as football owner convince themselves that the current underachievement can only be resolved by changing the man in charge. With the transfer window closed until January, club owners are unable to radically change their squad and they cannot blame themselves for egotistical and self-preservation and so find a scapegoat in a manager.
In football the desire for results set against a backdrop of intense media scrutiny creates an extremely challenging working environment. It seems that many of those controlling our football clubs have forgotten that not every team can play in the Premier League and not every club can avoid relegation. While there will always be a point where a manager can instil confidence in his players or display any sign that things can improve, a system where nearly half of clubs change manager cannot be sustainable particularly when there is a large settlement has to been paid out for each one.
It is clearly the decision of club chairmen whom they hire and fire, and when, but the statistics show that a club is likely to end up worse off when the manager is sacked and they are often significantly out of pocket due to compensation and paying off contracts. As a result clubs in the lower leagues in England cannot not afford to keep sacking managers. Not only is it expensive but it is hugely destabilising to a club and its staff, and a new manager wishing to stamp his own mark on the playing squad brings with him the additional cost of the transfer budget needed to do so.
However there is the argument that if you don’t do your job properly then you should be fired and no member of staff should be exempt from this. A football manager should be given time to improve things but where it is clearly causing a downward and relegating threatening trend, a board has to take the decision to change things. In which other business could a manager who is sacked for consistently failing to deliver results walk straight into another managerial post, often equally well-paid while still continuing to be paid by the organisation he had failed. If you are willing to accept that is will probably be a short term position where you will be constantly be under threat of losing your job, there are financial benefits of being a football manager, as long as you don’t mind traveling around the country for a new opportunity.