A Nice Day for an Execution: Are Football Managers Crazy?

illya mclellanSenior Analyst IMarch 6, 2009

The concluding are words from a Frank O'Farrell quote as he was summoned to a special board meeting at Old Trafford as he realized his career at that club had ended.

The full quote, "I suppose it’s a nice day for an execution,” was uttered to a trainer as he made the walk that most managers dread with the more recent exception of those who weren't really into the job and received a large payout.

In O'Farrells case, after success managing Leicester City, he was one of the long line of managers that attempted to follow in Matt Busby's footsteps at Manchester United until finally the belligerent Scot arrived.

There will be in the next few months many managers who take the long walk to the special board meeting to learn their fate.

Being sacked is as much about ego as it is about the monetary factors for a host of managers in the world game. The funny thing that passes by unmentioned is the rush the managers get on the sideline and in moments in which the club is heralded by the media and public.

Football managers are often, during a match, experiencing the same excitement in its most worthwhile to the individual way that they could, in fact, be a player on the field.

This at times terrifying and at times electrifying experience would be an enjoyable existence that many aspire too.

Managers could be described as modern day generals of civilized war. They are wise to be tactically astute while having a fast eye for talent and an ability for high pressure decision making.

The huge popularity of association football is as much a genetic occurrence as it is any other.

As war was sport in our history and is viewed by some in this way, still it is natural for us as a race to have embraced a contest which simulates the glory and valor, as well as the agony and despair, of war.

As it was in history the combatants are paid well if successful and if not, they are sent packing, or worse.

The manager’s contribution is still marginalized by many who would perhaps not identify with the reality of a really good coach and the magnetic effect he/she can have on a team and its ability to believe and play.

This attitude occasionally creeps into the boardroom as owners and directors think they can manage football teams better than highly learned and trained coaches.

Where they get this strange idea we can only guess.

Football management is quite obviously a drug as it clearly alters the conscious state of the user, clearly identified in that barrage of expletives and rude gestures you occasionally witness when you see something go not according to plan.

Nice day for an execution? Perhaps...

Equally, the ecstasy is as noticeable in whoops and cries of victory often accompanied by sprints, wild gestures, and dancing or acrobatics.

Both types of reaction are  clearly identified on occasion by the medical profession as crazed antics.

So to those who in the next few weeks will experience both sides of the managerial coin toss, we salute you, and may your victory be sweet and your defeat painless.

Unless you get us relegated.