Premier League: Sir Alex Ferguson Underlines Need for Managerial Stability

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterMarch 20, 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Di Matteo have been at the different ends of the scale as club chairmen attempt to establish success.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Di Matteo have been at the different ends of the scale as club chairmen attempt to establish success.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

One look at Manchester United and the answer is surely obvious for any football club owner: Stability and longevity are the staple diet for success in football.

Still, few club hierarchies listen and learn, with Blackburn Rovers leading the way in shoddy treatment of managers, most recently Michael Appleton being shown the door after just 67 days in charge.

Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson, who was beaten to the Premier League title by the Ewood Park side in 1995, continues to collect trophies like children claim Panini stickers.

Ferguson, Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Everton's David Moyes are the current longest-serving club bosses in the top flight, and while the Gunners may not have enjoyed silverware for eight years, their record of consecutive Champions League qualification is not down to good fortune.

Similarly, Moyes has steadied a Goodison Park ship which had been in regular danger of hitting the relegation rocks under previous regimes.

Chelsea remain the worst offenders among the Premier League's high-profile clubs, with Roberto Di Matteo somehow annoying owner Roman Abramovich six months after winning the Champions League and the FA Cup.

However, the trigger finger of other EPL clubs has not been left idle, with Southampton sacking Nigel Adkins in January after he guided the club to successive promotions and into the top flight after a seven-year absence.

The revolving-door policy is also not confined to the English elite. Appleton is joined by Gary Smith at the job centre following his departure from Stevenage today.

It is little wonder that the highly regarded League Managers' Association has taken umbrage (BBC Sport) at the collective tally of axed club bosses this season, currently standing at 33 for 2012-13. That figure is unlikely to remain stagnant until the end of the season.

"It's embarrassing for the game that all of those sackings are unfair dismissals. The volatility is undermining the profession" LMA chief executive Richard Bevan

Last season, Wolves sacked Mick McCarthy before the end of the season and were relegated. The Molineux club now find themselves in the bottom three of the Championship after bringing in Stale Solbakken for interim boss Terry Connor and then sacking the Norwegian in January. Dean Saunders is currently the man in charge at Wolves.

Although far from being their fault, Blackpool are just four points off the drop zone following the departure of Ian Holloway to Crystal Palace and Appleton's move to Blackburn. Paul Ince is now in charge at Bloomfield Road.

But the persistent switching of managers just does not work, does it?

Chelsea were fortunate last season when interim boss Di Matteo, who replaced Andre Villas-Boas in March, used resilience as the key word to Champions League success. But it wasn't Abramovich's astute managerial judgement that secured victory over Bayern Munich in May.

During the 1970s, Brian Clough lasted just 44 days at Leeds United. That statistic at the time was enough to prompt a live television debate between Clough and his predecessor Don Revie, but it remains a one-off of its time, and a cottage industry has grown on the back of the myths of that period at Elland Road.

Bill Shankly, Revie, Clough and Sir Matt Busby were all given time to build teams to succeed and remain on the front foot. What Derby and Leeds would give for those halcyon days to return.

The pace of change and the media focus now on football, though, is significantly different. A run of three successive defeats can swiftly become a crisis under the brutal spotlight of rolling sports news and saturated media coverage.

This, however, remains the prerogative of editors and journalists, and it is not an invitation for club owners to dole out P45s with alarming regularity.

In September of 1983, then Everton manager Howard Kendall became the centre of ire for some supporters at Goodison Park (Liverpool Echo), but the club's hierarchy kept faith with the former midfielder and were rewarded with two league titles, a European Cup Winners' Cup and an FA Cup in the subsequent seasons.

Roberto Mancini was appointed Manchester City manager in December 2009 and is the 12th-longest-serving manager throughout the English Football League, according to the LMA rankings.

It is a staggering statistic which should have been understood a long time ago.

Southampton, Reading and Queens Park Rangers have all changed their managers this season. Who would bet against that trio bidding farewell to the Premier League this season?


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