A lone figure sits in a recently vacated office. A smouldering gun rests silently in his hand. He knows this was an extreme measure and he could well live to regret it, but he could no longer ignore the growing unrest around him. Outside, he can hear the latest name being scratched off the door. Another manager has been fired.
Martin Allen became the latest name to join the list of controversial managerial departures this season. Mick McCarthy and Neil Warnock have both been dismissed from the top flight whilst fellow League One side Huddersfield recently axed Lee Clarke, despite just three defeats in 55 matches.
Blackpool boss Ian Holloway took to his Independent column to launch a scathing attack on ignorant chairmen that grace the Football League.
“It is all madness but that’s what you get when you have chairmen who don’t really know much about the game.
“Some chairmen have egos so big they can’t cope – and that is when we get the boot.”
It’s important to remember that despite the wealth that is splashed about in the modern game, very few clubs are ever likely to make a profit. Therefore from an owner’s perspective, a business that makes a loss can only be justified if it remains successful.
There seems to be two main types of chairman, the foreign entrepreneur who uses the club as an extension of his wealth or the ‘fan’ of the club, whose vision and judgment is often clouded by their emotions. Either way if you fail to match the targets laid out before you or replicate past achievements then you’ll barely have time to decorate your new office.
Roman Abramovich is arguably the most frequent wielder of the sack axe, having appointed an impressive seven managers since his takeover in 2003. His most recent dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti raised a few eyebrows considering his maiden double winning season, but it appears his lust for the Champions League knows no boundaries.
Sheikh Mansour has also coupled his injection of millions into the club with the ruthless dismissal of Mark Hughes. During his brief 18-month spell in charge Hughes had guided City to sixth in the League, having lost only twice in the league all season, plus he had reached the semi-finals of the Carling Cup. It seems however that perfection is the standard requirement for the Premier League elite these days.
It would be harsh to tarnish all league chairmen with the same brush. Wigan’s Dave Whelan has stood firmly by Roberto Martinez despite their constant flirtation with the drop zone. His allegiance paid off when Wigan avoided relegation on the final day of last season, yet it remains to be seen whether they can repeat the same feat this time round.
Elsewhere Blackburn owners the Venky’s have been, dare I say chicken, in regards to sacking Steve Kean, much to the displeasure of Rovers fans. Phil Gartside and Randy Lerner have also stuck by their men in the face of growing criticism from their fans. On the surface these actions appear loyal and commendable but let’s not forget that these managers were the chairmen’s own appointments and dismissing them would be acknowledging that they were wrong in the first place, and no one likes doing that.
As I’m writing this article the news of Niall Quinn’s departure is spreading like wildfire on Twitter. The former Sunderland chairman has achieved a great deal during the past six years including guiding the club back into the Premier League under Roy Keane. It’s also worth pointing out that former manager Steve Bruce was sacked just a month after Ellis Short replaced Quinn as chairman, although few would question that decision today.
Despite the apparent trigger-happy culture that surrounds football management, just two managers have been sacked in the top flight. Is this the start of a more understanding, considerate ethos amongst chairmen? Doubtful, as always it’s largely due to the vast expenditure required to turf out the old and implement the new. However, Martin O’Neill’s inspired revival at Sunderland may just prompt a few more chairmen to partake in a spot of spring-cleaning.
Are you happy with your club’s current chairman? Do they have the clubs best interest at heart? Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter @theunusedsub
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