Who would want to be a football manager? It’s a job coated in a lethal concoction of pressure and unrealistic expectation, plus you have to work on the weekend.
The days are spent trying to please modern day ‘prima donnas’ and the nights are filled with a worry that the next game could easily be your last. At the very peak of success it’s undoubtedly brilliant but at the first sign of trouble, it’s always the coaching staff that will find themselves in the firing line.
Players on the other hand remain effectively untroubled by it all, the very idea that player could be sacked for a series of poor performances is ludicrous and yet it’s a regular occurrence in many other professions. There maybe the occasional fan’s scapegoat destined to rot in the reserves but when was the last time a professional footballer came out and declared that they’d just had a right ‘stinker’. It never happens, they sink back into the dressing room hoping all will be forgotten by Monday morning. Herein lies the issue, why do the players never find their heads on the chopping block when the chairman swings his axe?
Let’s take Chelsea for example, who will apparently forever struggle to replicate their achievements under ‘The Special One’. It appeared that Roman Abramovich had signalled a new dawn at the club with his expensive appointment of Andre Villas-Boas, yet just nine months later he has aborted such plans and essentially landed the club back at square one.
As speculation intensified surrounding the future of his Portuguese protégée, Abramovich saw fit to announce to his squad that AVB was here to stay. This appeared to be a refreshing change from the dreaded vote of confidence or the Billionaire’s usual trigger-happy response in the face of adversity. However, as murmurs of discontent continued to emanate from the Stamford Bridge dressing room, Roman resorted back to the ‘easy’ alternative and sent his manager on his way.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise the problems at the Bridge run deep to the core, there are many aging legs that are struggling to cope with the increased vigour and intensity of the Premier League. Perhaps Villas-Boas was guilty of making too many changes too quickly but the point remains that the next permanent manager will look to employ exactly the same tactics, and when the senior Chelsea figures inevitably kick up a fuss again, will we see history repeat itself?
Without wanting to victimise certain players I can’t help but highlight Frank Lampard as a point in case. For all of his positive attributes, he has to accept that at 34-years of age he can longer compete at the same level as years gone by. Instead of acting like the typical disgruntled bench warmer he should seek to adapt his game by dropping deeper and allowing the younger legs of Ramires to go marauding up the pitch.
In their prime Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes would operate in and around the strikers at Old Trafford but they have since evolved or rather matured and now concentrate on retaining possession and feeding the likes of Rooney, Welbeck and Nani in behind the oppositions defence. Modern day footballers seem increasing incapable of adapting their style at their manager’s discretion and will often voice their concerns in the public media. Can you imagine any past player daring to cross that line under the likes of Brian Clough?
Chelsea captain John Terry recently remarked that the players should share responsibility for the club’s current plight but notice that this message comes to light in the aftermath of AVB’s departure.
“Sad for Andre, because unfortunately it falls on his head, when I think the players would hold their hands up and say, ‘Clearly, we’ve not been good enough and we all made mistakes together’,” (Daily Mail)
An interesting response when you consider how many Chelsea players have actually ‘held their hands up’ in admission of such failures.
The issue of players shying away from criticism doesn’t solely exist at Chelsea, many would argue that the players at Arsenal cowered away when fans were calling for their manager’s head. There’s no question that Wenger has done more for the club than any of the current playing squad and yet despite this, he found very few prominent vocal supporters from within his squad.
Arsenal appear to be enjoying somewhat of a revival of late, ever since they emerged from the dressing room at half-time during the North London derby. There will be a number of Gunners scratching their head as to why Theo Walcott hasn’t been able to replicate that impressive 45-minutes across the entire season, and dare I say midfielder Tomas Rosicky is guilty of upping his game in recent weeks to secure his new deal at the club?
It always amazes me the instant impact a new manager can have at a club despite having very little time to implement their managerial style. Too often we hear phrase, ‘he’s installed a new sense of belief at the club’ when actually that translates as ‘we’re all glad that other blokes been sacked’. Perhaps this is an inevitable facet of human nature but the idea that a player wouldn’t give his all on the pitch because he doesn’t see eye to eye with his manager is beyond infuriating. There is definitely an ‘untouchable arrogance’ installed in certain players who have quickly realised they’ll get paid handsomely whether they playing or not.
Until players are willing to stand beside their manager to take the flack in the same way they do during their successes then I fear the average stint of a Premier League manager will continue to rapidly decline.
Join me on Twitter @theunusedsub where I’m currently reminiscing about Marco Reich’s performances at Crystal Palace before we made the fatal mistake of offering him a long-term contract.