The culture of sacking is here to stay

explores the culture of managerial sackings

Gianfranco Zola, presumably signing his own P45. Image: illarterate via Flickr Creative Commons

Gianfranco Zola, presumably signing his own P45. Image: illarterate via Flickr Creative Commons

Your team is losing their fifth game in a row, the fans are on your back and the away team fans are chanting “you’re getting sacked in the morning”. The chairman has lost confidence with you and the next day you’re clearing your desk whilst bookies are putting the odds on as to who your successor will be: Iain Dowie 2:1, Alan Curbishley 5:1, Dennis Wise 10:1 etc. You would be upset if it wasn’t for the mass pay-off and the 20 other manager-less clubs who feel that despite you failing at all your previous attempts at management, this could be your time to shine. Unfortunately it isn’t (who could’ve guessed that Dowie would yet again fail miserably). A massive shock to us all…

This story has become so familiar in recent times and in particular this season. The amount of managerial changes in the Football League so far this season is now over 20. A ridiculous amount and it is all due to the new chop and change football culture that has worsened dramatically in recent years. The average length for a manager to be in charge of an English football league club is now down to a ridiculous one and a half seasons. It has been proven to not improve and so why do chairmen keep thinking it will work? Manchester United are the most successful team in England since the Premier League began and through it all they have stuck with the one man. Sir Alex himself.

How different the Manchester United of today could have been had they sacked him all those years ago when it wasn’t going so well, but they didn’t and so are now reaping the rewards sitting once again comfortably at the top of the Premier League. Compare this to West Ham and their recent sackings and leavings of managers. Curbishley leaving due to pressures and interferences from above, to be replaced by Zola who was sacked very harshly after a few dodgy results and then in comes Avram Grant. Three managers in the space of three years and they sit at the bottom of the Premier League massively underachieving.

Their answer will most likely be to sack Avram Grant but will this actually work and help them get out of the mess they are in? Maybe results will improve for a few games but then the manager will want his own staff and players, meaning a mass turn around. This doesn’t seem so bad but agents’ fees, singing on fees and the paying off of contracts doesn’t come cheap and doesn’t create continuity which is a major factor of success. That along with vast amounts of money of course.

So who is to blame for this recent culture of sacking managers as soon as anything goes remotely wrong? It would be easy to blame the chairman as he is the one after all who has the final say, but when you’re team is bottom of the league or massively underachieving and the fans are demanding a change, or the players appear to have lost faith in the manager. What options do you really have? There are two ways that any fan will look at it: sack and hire in a seemingly better manager as soon as possible or of course the local hero (i.e. King Kev, Shearer, Dalglish or at Derby the return of the past legend in the form of his son), or invest impossible sums of money that you don’t have on new players and ridiculous wages. Only one of these is a realistic possibility and so the culture of sacking and hiring managers continues. Then of course in the past fans still got annoyed at poor runs of form and players still lost faith in managers, so why wasn’t there the same philosophy?

The answer has to lie within of course the mass amounts of money involved in the game nowadays. Relegation could spell the end of a clubs existence or a massive fall, with clubs such as Leeds, Charlton, Southampton, Bradford and Wimbledon all being good examples of what can happen to a team following relegation from the Premier League. This is a chairman’s worst nightmare and so the knee-jerk reaction of sacking the manager and hoping that this leads to a short-term improvement to the teams results is clearly a more enticing option than sitting back, doing nothing and hoping for the best. After all who can blame them? As long as football remains in its current state (a business involving millions upon millions of pounds) then the culture of sacking managers will continue as it is at the moment. Managers beware of that dip in form.