Why do football managers get the sack?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the role of a manager as “a person responsible for controlling an organization or group of staff”. However, what happens when that particular staff or organization is lazy and incompetent? Could you blame the amounting troubles on the manager?

In football the responsibility of a manager is relatively different, to say, a manager in a hotel. A manager in a hotel has to be competent and hire suitable staff from a wider pool of talent. Football is a very particular art, so your pool is a lot smaller. Competence in football is measured on the pitch. If that talent doesn’t produce, results will reflect that. Ultimately, if the results aren’t good, then the manager is heading for the boot.

As a manger in football, it only takes a run of two or three games to the backing of your board.

So why are club owners and chairman’s so impatient? Why can we not give the man in the dugout more time to turn things around and lead his team towards long-term success?

The role of a manager is to recruit players, motivate them and implement tactics. Those tactics are used to help the team score goals and concede as little as possible. So is being a manager the most important position in football?

In hindsight it probably is. Yes, the players are the ones producing the entertainment, however they have been picked to do that by the manager. So if they don’t perform, it is his responsibility.

You could argue that a manager is only as good as his players, which directly relates to how much money he has to spend. It is no shock to see Chelsea and Manchester City battling for the title with strapped-for-cash Burnley wrestling for survival.

Obviously, with more money you can attract better players, although the manager is hired to get the best out of the players he has. If he doesn’t, then he is not doing the job you have hired him to do.

By picking ‘said’ manager to lead your team to glory, there is always an element of risk. You are pinning all your hopes on him. Nothing is guaranteed and you trust his ability to bring out the best in a group of players the club has invested a lot of money in.

The foundations of a club are essentially built on the pitch. If you play well and you’re winning trophies, the rest should follow suit. That fame then translates into growing revenue; with that added success you become more marketable, and that’s when large multi-national organisations come sniffing for sponsorship deals. Almost anything can be sponsored these days, whether it your playing shirt, your training gear, even your stadium.

To put it simply, football is all about money. It is a business. Every owner or chairman needs money in a football club, and I mean a lot of it. All the way down the football ladder. The sums of money needed to recruit and invest in the infrastructure of the club can reach monumental levels.

Unfortunately, as money continues to play its part in football, results on the pitch are becoming ever more fundamental than they previously once were. It is the only way that money can be made.

Let’s take Manchester United as an example. At the end of the 2012/2013 season, Sir Alex Ferguson announced that he would be retiring from football and subsequently ending his 27-year association as manager with the club.

In his place came David Moyes, a man with many similar traits to Sir Alex – hailing from Glasgow, Scotland and coming from a working class background. In turn, he was recommended by Ferguson to become his successor.

United began with the best intentions, handing Moyes a six-year contract, but his ability to win was quickly noted.

Moyes may have brought stability to Merseyside and the guarantee of European football in some capacity, but during his 11 years at Everton, he never won a major trophy.

So how could he take over from one of the greatest manager ever? Like I said, It’s a gamble, a gamble many people thought would pay off. In hindsight we know that, that gamble didn’t pay off. That gamble would only last 10-expensive-months.

Many people have speculated that Ferguson left United due to the anticipated decline of the team, but this is unfounded and absurd. Especially as his side had just won the Premier League.

To manage a side you need to have everything. You have to be a good man manager, motivator, a tactician and a born winner. Ferguson had that, which brought out the best in his players. If they were average, he would make them invincible.

Moyes, unfortunately, didn’t have that. During that season he lead the team to a miserable 7th place finish – their worst finish in 24 years. Furthermore, he was given substantial financial backing, but he brought the wrong players and the team looked disjointed for large parts of his tenure. The board had no choice but to relive him of his duties.

Should he have been given more time? Possibly, although, he did not produce anything during his time at United, or in the past, to suggest he could turn the clubs fortunes around.

Perhaps one example that challenges that theory is Alan Pardew at Newcastle United. At the start of the season the club went through a sticky period, winless in seven games. The fans were not happy and wanted the board to sack him. Mike Ashley – Newcastle’s owner – seemed set to weld his axe, but decided to give Pardew some time. Well, that paid off as Newcastle went on a six game winning streak. Nobody could see it and he has since silenced his doubters.

Moyes and Pardew are just an example of how football is a very fickle sport. It’s all about the here and now. You have to produce the goods in order to keep the fans satisfied, as well as the board, because football is all about money. And time is money.

Picture Credits: Jason Gulledge

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