Halloween looms and a ginger spectre is once again haunting the beautiful game: Davie Moyes has announced that he’s open to offers of management posts. Those bulging eyes are reputedly focused on Newcastle, but he was watching West Ham at Burnley…
Yes, we’re approaching that ’10-games-in’ point, where serious football folks start looking at the tables and club chairmen start to think about getting a new guy in for the January sales. (Unless you’re Watford, already on their fourth manager of the season, a higher staff turnover than the counters at McDonald’s.) For the rest of us, we just carry on indulging in idle speculation about which coach is next up for their jotters.
The sack race has become football’s ongoing off-field diversion, a transfer window for one key position, and one that never slams shut. If the latter is the game’s Christmas break and summer fortnight in Ibiza – leaving behind legions of the delighted, bemused and bitterly disappointed – the other is the freakin’ weekend baby, presenting an ongoing opportunity for a gloat-fuelled binge or, in some cases, even a quiet expression of empathy.
Merrily Round And Round They Go
Of course, despite the excessive rewards in the higher echelons of football, it probably is still of questionable morality to celebrate somebody losing their job. But dry your eyes – unless those guys are absolutely terrible or just plain old and doddery, they’ll be back in work soon. It ain’t called the ‘managerial go round’ for nothing. The managers themselves also tend to be supreme pragmatists, realizing that they are usually temporary custodians of a club’s hot seat rather than its genuine sitting tenants. If this is true in almost any walk of life these days, it’s particularly the case in the results-driven football industry. I say ‘almost any walk’ deliberately: if only senior politicians and bankers were subjected to the same transparency, and so ruthlessly dispatched.
The managerial-go-round operates on the dance-floor principle of a ‘girl for every guy’; the underlying belief that it doesn’t matter how bad your skill set is, there’s a club for you somewhere.
So if you’re a clumsy groper you just need to take a few slaps in the face before you find the outfit that is going to let you shag it into the big time on that first date. Conversely, if you’re the sort who feels a club has to be wooed with flowers and chocolates only to find yourself out in the car park while a sweaty Sam Allardyce is on the training field humping it out of the relegation zone and – whisper it – maybe into the Champions League, then don’t despair: the next one just might be for you.
Even if the club is well run in other aspects, some directors are just so bad at picking managers that it amounts to a curse. Hibernian’s financially prudent Chairman Rod Petrie built a superb new stadium on the brown field site of the old Easter Road ground, chucking in a state-of-the-art training facility and football academy for good measure. But on the field, after lucking out with Tony Mowbray, he couldn’t pick his nose, relentlessly going from one failure to a subsequently bigger one, culminating in Hibs relegation from one of the weakest senior leagues in Europe.
The buck of incompetence stopped with him, forcing Petrie to acknowledge that this pattern was bigger than the managers he appointed.
As a result, he is now no longer, at least allegedly, involved in footballing affairs, having appointed a CEO in his stead. Often continually sacking managers is a tactic a dodgy owner deploys to appease a support, by diverting their attention from the fact the club’s boardroom regime is pretty dodgy. Doug Ellis at Villa was a legendary sack artist known to operate in that manner, and the fear amongst many Manchester United fans is that the main problem isn’t the Moyes’s and Van Gaals on the touchline, but the Glazers in the boardroom.
Managers develop an expertise in certain areas. I loved Harry Redknapp’s West Ham teams, but as a manager he now seems well past his sell-by date, and QPR’s directors are surely at the stage of the season where they should be looking out Tony Pullis’s number. West Ham will decant to the Olympic Stadium next term, and the fact that it would disastrous to make that shift while in the Championship accounts for the lingering presence of Sam Allardyce. His default brand of football is nothing like the fanbase of that club aspires to, but while you might suffer the odd bout of sea sickness with Sam at the helm, but at least you know the ship isn’t going down.
Sam Still The Man…Just
Right now the ship seems to be cruising towards Europe. Because, as the Allardyce experience shows with West Ham’s bright start to the season, the culture of a club and supporters expectations can also inform a manager’s style, compelling, or at least encouraging, them to modify it. So, for the moment, I’m hoping that Messers Gold and Sullivan have mislaid David Moyes’s phone number and that the ginger spectre is haunting Tyneside.
So it begs the question: who’s next for the boot? Well, with that horrendous QPR defence, Harry looks like a dead man walking down in Shepherd’s Bush. However, as I predicted Liverpool to win the League and they’ve looked uninspired without Suarez, I now have to boldly tip Brendan Rodgers to be the next big name for the sack – that should properly kick-start the Premier League campaign at Anfield.
Irvine Welsh is the best-selling author of Trainspotting, Ecstasy, Filth and The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins. He contributes to the Paddy Power Blog each month. Follow Irvine, if you wish, on Twitter here.
- Irvine Welsh exclusive: Wayne Rooney was wired a different way but no player is immune to the pressure of knowing when you are past your best
- Irvine Welsh: The English exported homosexuality to Scotland in the 1990s in an attempt to undermine our march to freedom
- ‘F*ck it, I like Arsenal’: One man’s struggle to dislike Arsene Wenger