Not even a week after their loss to Manchester United, Chelsea's management have fired Avram Grant.
What I ask myself is this—did they ever give the man a chance?
And more generally, do we expect too much progress in too little time from today's managers?
Sir Alex Ferguson became manager of Manchester United in November 1986. He won his first trophy with the club in January 1990. That's three years and two months later. I have numerous recent examples of managers in Premiership football that have been replaced much too soon, however I will concentrate on a few that have intrigued me the most.
Avram Grant became Chelsea manager on September 20th, 2007. He was sacked today, May 24th, 2008. In the eight months on the job, he managed to place the team further than anyone before him ever could—in the Champions League Final.
Not only that, Chelsea managed to hold their own throughout most of the game, and lose only on penalties (which is as much a matter of luck as it is a matter of technique). In my humble opinion, he actually did a very good job during the half-time break, to bring his team back from about 15-20 minutes of undisputed United dominance during the first half.
My question is, after achieving more than Ranieri or Mourinho ever did, why was he sacked so soon? Taking the job in September (and thereby missing the summer transfer window), Grant's only chance to make some minor changes in the squad was the January transfer window, when Chelsea purchased Nicolas Anelka (who earned good reviews for his debut against Tottenham on the 12th January), the Frenchman scoring his first goal for the club just two weeks later.
Of course, some will say, Anelka did miss the crucial final penalty that cost Chelsea the Champions League crown, but to that I say—John Terry could have ended the match before Anelka even got the chance to shoot.
In my opinion, Avram Grant could have made some crucial changes to the squad this summer and returned next season poised to reclaim the European trophy that they came so close to winning this year.
Rather, Chelsea would have a new manager come in, whose influence will probably not be felt until the early months of 2009, when it could be too late to fight for the Premier League and maybe even the Champions League.
Another management substitution that surprised me was Martin Jol's sacking from Tottenham, after almost three years in charge. Jol—the most successful manager in Tottenham's history. In only his second season in White Hart Lane, Jol cemented the club's place in the top six teams of the Premiership.
Then, in July 2006, he made what in my opinion was the most successful transfer Tottenham has had in the recent decade—he bought Dimitar Berbatov.
Tottenham's winning of the Carling Cup is also widely attributed to Jol's influence. Now I am not saying Juande Ramos is a bad coach—on the contrary, I think the Spaniard has the potential to achieve more than the Dutchman, but is it rational to sack the club's most successful manager only halfway through a bad season?
I think we have to go back to Arsene Wenger and his second season at Arsenal to see such a speedy improvement and conquest of silverware. I would consider Jose Mourinho's conquest of the Premiership in his first season, however, i do believe Chelsea's coming third in 2003, and second in 2004 (both under Ranieri) helped Mourinho a lot in providing him with an already able team.
I would also moan about why Mourinho was ever sacked from Chelsea, but that had nothing to do with his coaching abilities.
Basically, I am wondering—are the top clubs nowadays just too demanding?
And if they are, isn't that strange since the two clubs that have been the most consistent in winning silverware over the past 16 years (Manchester United and Arsenal) are managed by two of the longest serving managers in their teams' history?