Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lee Bowyer for West Ham (v Derby County), 10 November 2007

"If Derby County hadn't been promoted via the play-offs last season, Billy Davies would still be manager."



Anonymous said...

Who actually expected Derby to stay-up? I doubt even the Derby board thought they would.

They are simply not good enough, so why not take this as an experience, keep Davies as manager, and then go for promotion again.

Davies has proved he can cope in the Championship and would probably be able to get them up again and build on what they've learnt this season.

swisslet said...

On the one hand, it's a ridiculous sacking. Apparently only once in the history of the Premier League (and we all know that there was no football before that, right?), a promoted club has only once before changed it's manager mid-season and avoided relegation. Given that the club in question was West Brom, and the manager Bryan Robson, that only goes to show you that it was a freak. Look at Watford: whipping boys last year but £50m richer and with the same management team in place and they look good for a return to the top table next year. Derby look shit, yes, but they were nearly bankrupt 2 years ago and Davies has completed (George Burley started it) a marvellous job and got them up. Why sack him? It's madness, etc. etc.

On the whole, I agree, but I have a couple of other observations to make:

1) Billy Davies has always struck me as a bit of a funny fish. Not a reason to sack him, for sure, but even on the day of his greatest triumph in the play-off final, he was moaning about the board and the level of investment and threatening to quit. It seemed odd to me, and every time I have seen him interviewed since, he has seemed uncomfortable and somehow not in the least bit convincing. His comments about the board this season and last week in particular might just have made his job untenable - Rafa Benitez take note.

2) His team have been shit. Being tonked by Arsenal and Liverpool is one thing, but West Ham? The team have looked desperately poor and seem at the moment to be going down without a whimper, never mind a fight. The manager sets the tone, and he's looked resigned to me from day one. If you look beaten before you start, then you will be beaten and you'll take your players with you.

3) If you think your manager hasn't got what it takes, then now is the time to act. Don't wait until after the transfer window is shut and someone else has spent the kitty... act now and give someone else the chance to assess the squad, make some changes and bring in some new faces. Surely that's the only way to have even a chance of survival. They're only two points adrift at the moment but looking hopeless. If change is needed, make it now.

Derby need to pick their next manager carefully because they do not want someone who will see them go down and then bugger off - they need someone who sees this as a project and can either (ideally) keep them up, or at least take them down in a position to bounce back stronger. They can't afford to have another manager come and go inside a year, as this will kill them next season. In other words, forget about someone like McClaren and think of an up and coming manager (in the Tony Mowbray mould) or an established but wily pro in the George Burley mould (although for obvious reasons it seems unlikely to be him!).

Above all else, show some pride in the club and enjoy pitting your wits against some of the best players in the world.

Having said that, it seems harsh to sack him to me. On the day he picked up his "East Midlands Coach of the Year" gong too. Oh the irony.


swisslet said...

I tell you what, if I knew I had Paul Jewell lined up as a replacement, I'd have sacked him too.

Anonymous said...

I think the Watford example of sticking with a committed management team would have been the yardstick, however, as ST mentions, Billy Davies seemed not to be able to handle that slightly longer term yo-yoing vision, hence he was the master of his own undoing. Credit to Derby for not f***ing about though. Paul Jewell!... Emile Heskey for Derby, anyone?