End the managerial madness

by , May 24, 2011

As Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich propels his side back to the forefront of the managerial merry-go-round with the latest in an increasing line of nonsensical manager sackings, football has left me with a bad taste in my mouth once again.

On a day that should have been all about the glory of the sides who survived; the late joy at Wigan from Hugo Rodallega’s headed goal, and Wolves’ explosion of passion when Stephen Hunt had the top left hand corner of the net bulging. Instead, the overriding memory is of the tasteless and ludicrous decision to relieve Carlo Ancelotti, a man who delivered the double last season and has made a great many friends and admirers during his time here, from his duties leading Chelsea. Judging by the reaction flooding in on twitter last night from journalists and fans alike, and the judgement of various in the know peoples that the Chelsea players would be less than enthusiastic, perhaps it is time that we all took a stand before more good men lose their jobs in a short termist purge from the autocrats above.

Roman Abramovich has not always made the sort of decisions that have won support during his time at Chelsea. Certainly some contempt has grown from the lavish spending that will of course bring jealousy from many corners, but it is his dealing with his employees, particularly his managers that causes the most concern. Abramovic’s breakdown in relationship with Jose Mourinho is fairly well documented, and perhaps the nature of Mourinho’s fiery character is some sort of mitigating circumstance in this issue. It is not with Mourinho, but in the poor appointments and subsequent removals of Scolari and Grant that Abramovich has shown his ruthless streak. Successfully building on this image, Abramovich has now taken his unpleasant liking for wielding the axe to a new and somewhat remarkable level by sacking a man who achieved a second place finish, and in his first year had won the double for Chelsea. Perhaps the most worrying element of the Russian’s control of the London club is in the way that he consistently undermined his managers during their time at the club, firstly sacking Ray Wilkins, Ancelotti’s assistant during a fabulous run, and then installing Michael Emanalo, a barely qualified choice with a conveniently close relationship to the owner. Of course Abramovich is by no means the only owner of a Premier League club that has operated with such deadly ruthlessness, but the latest events at Stamford Bridge lead me to suggest that for once and for all something must be done. It’s about time that everyone involved in football made a stand against the nonsensical sacking of well performing managers.

It is about time that a call to arms was issued, the League Managers association, The Premier League, the Football Association and the managers and players involved in modern football could together have enough power to change this situation. The LMA must immediately condemn, with genuine ferocity the decision to remove Ancelotti from his job, and should do so with the multitude of other ludicrous sackings taking place as they should have done with the sacking of Sam Allardyce by the new owners of Blackburn, the Venkys group. Aside from the condemnation of the authorities and the strengthening of the checks and controls placed on new owners by the football authorities, perhaps it is time that football colleagues took a stand. It may be something of a pipe dream, and it may be ridiculed or responded to with cries that it won’t work, but can managers not stand up for their colleagues in the game? After all it is their collective jobs at stake. Perhaps it is about time that managers began to say no to these owners for the long term good of everyone involved in the game.

Dave Whelan at Wigan is a fantastic example of a dignified, principled man within football. Many owners would have sacked Roberto Martinez this year after flirting in and around the bottom three for much of the season, and by today’s standards the sacking wouldn’t have been outrageous. Not Whelan though, Dave Whelan offers Martinez every support and reaps the reward at the end of the season; hugging the man that he has trusted with the club he loves in front of the joyful and adoring fans. This is what football should be about, and these are the sorts of scenes that will become few and far between should the mercenary nature of the game continue to grow. It is those within the game that can make a stand and say no to those trying to squeeze the life, and the cash out of every area of the game.

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