World Football-EPL Managers and the Sword of Damocles

illya mclellanSenior Analyst IJuly 31, 2008

With the beginning of the league season only weeks away it is only natural that the bookies should start to give odds on which manager will be the first to face the firing squad.

In England it is West Ham's Alan Curbishley who is the present favourite for the chop. Upon reading about these odds I thought about the stress and pressure these men must face every waking hour.

It reminded me of the Greek myth involving Dionysus, a legendary tyrant of Syracuse and one of his courtiers, Damocles.

To cut a long story short the king had Damocles sit in a seat above which was suspended a sword Damocles new nothing about until he later looked up and realised the perilous situation he was in. 

This was so the king could show Damocles the fearful nature of a position of power, in how the power you have at one moment could be taken from you the next.

This is very similar to the life of a Premier League manager.

Perhaps in the circumstances of a manager it is slightly different in that they often get a chance to turn things back in their favour before the sword comes down.

Sometimes they make the turnaround and sometimes the steering wheel snaps off in their hands.

Last season we saw "Big Sam" get to squirm for what seemed a ridiculous amount of time as he consistently made Newcastle United play like a team reduced to nine men at the start of a world cup final.

His reasons for doing this were not entirely clear as he had a squad of players that might actually have benefited from attacking the opposition goal.

But Sam's steering column had disintegrated and he could turn that wheel all he wanted and nothing seemed to happen for him.

This season with all managerial positions in the Premier League having been taken it is really a matter of time before someone has to say goodbye.

The question is now who will it be? Will it be a "big four" manager who gets the dreaded "vote of confidence."

Will Benitez sample the 'rain on the plain in Spain' a little earlier this year?

Will Wenger take a tour to the ruins of the Maginot line in November this year? Will Sir Alex be back in the restaurant trade? Will "Big Phil" be hiding in the Andes chewing cocoa leaves?

Probably not.

Once again it is more likely to be a manager of a team that is strapped for cash and would not do well even if the Antichrist (apparently he will be capable of levitating objects and also be friends with all the richest people in the world) was managing them.

Its a results game though and the results never lie.

The worst thing for managers of established clubs is expectation. Expectation can be the doom of a manager but also the saviour.

Imagine Christmas comes and Stoke City and Chelsea are side by side in tenth and eleventh place respectively.

Pulis, expected to struggle, will be a media darling and Big Phil, expected to excel, will be on his way to the Andes.

I wish all of these men good luck, because God knows they will need it.