Monday, February 09, 2009

Fernando Torres for Liverpool (v Portsmouth), 7 February 2009

Two more casualties in the Premiership today with the expected sacking of Pompey boss Tony Adams and the unexpected departure of Luiz Felipe Scolari leaving Chelsea searching for their fourth manager in eighteen months.

Both sackings seem to be frankly ridiculous, for similar reasons.

Let's start with Adams. To be quite honest, I don't rate Adams' managerial skills. His reign at Portsmouth has lasted just over three months and he has presided over sixteen league games of which they have won just two. This is after an unimpressive earlier stint at Wycombe Wanderers.

Saying that, though, I really feel for him. The club's financial situation is precarious and the team have been playing resonably well, only losing to Liverpool on Saturday by conceding twice in the last few minutes. It's hardly like he has had the time or opportunity to stamp his mark on the side and if he was the right man for the job three months ago either it's a knee-jerk decision or the people who employed him got it totally wrong and should carry the can.

Scolari is in a similar boat. Expectations at Chelsea have been raised to an unattainable level under Abramovich - take the firing of limited but honourable man Avram Grant despite Chelsea being a whisker and penalty kick away from doing the Premiership/Champions League double last season. Chelsea are a mere seven points behind Manchester United and going well in the FA Cup and Champions League. Performances have dipped of late, but is seems pretty harsh to sack the manager with a team in that position (especially when they have no replacement in mind).

What's going on? The average tenure for a manager these days is, apparently, around 17 months. The financial pressures on promotion and relegation are so great that pretty much all management roles have become something of a poisoned chalice and only (and I mean only) instant and continued success seems to be good enough. Sacking managers with less then two dozen games under their belt seems completely ludicrous and undermines the whole essence of the role. Paul Ince got seventeen games as manager of Blackburn Rovers - Adams one less. Considering the long term success achieved by managers who get a fair crack of the whip (Ferguson and Wenger the two obvious examples, David Moyes a close third) I just wish club would pick a manager and stick with them through thick and thin. It took Sir Alex four years to win a trophy at Manchester United - in this day and age he would have been long gone by that point.

I appreciate that times have changed (financially) and that those pressures on chairmen are more severe than ever. I do think though that enough is enough though before we get to the stage where a manager gets a rolling contract for a game at a time which ends when they lose a match. Or why not get rid of the management role altogether and just let the players decide what to do?

1 comment:

Shane said...

Adams seemed like a hurried, even desperate, decision from the start. Despite support from the likes of The Esteemed Lee Dixon, I've not seen or heard anything of Adams to steer me from seriously doubting his managerial capacities. Good on-pitch leader does not equal good off-field leader / director. The Pompey board as hurriedly cut short their losses, as they brought them on. Maybe this fast action will be to the club's benefit.

In the case of Scolari, Chelsea and outlandish expectations, my mind turns to Manchester City. Part of me would like to see Mark Hughes succeed, though I'd rather the source of that success was a bit more home-grown / drip-drip / organic than the current megabucks roadshow.

In terms of a broader cultural point, it looks like the top tier of English football is being stretched at both ends - the likes of Portsmouth and Middlesbrough more than aware of their financial limitations, and ebbing away as a result, whilst at the other end... well, there's soundbites from Noel Gallagher and there's Drogba/Anelka options that aren't enough.