Every year it’s the same; teams start, full of optimism, ready to reap the fruit of the managers seeds and then things go awry. Loses here, dropped points there, a sense of desperation sets in: “things have to change”.
That ‘thing’ is, almost inevitably, the manager. Not the players, no, they are simply drones, ‘architects of the managers tactical decisions’ and anyway they are paid too much to just be let go. Managers are expendable, signed for pittance let go on a free, a risk worth taking.
I have no issue with this system, economically if not morally it is the most viable option, although I do hold reservation whether, in the majority of cases the manager is actually to blame.
Today though…today was different. The sacking of Chris Hughton as manager of Newcastle United is unexplainable, an illogical farce. An innocent man sacked over nothing more than his name. Newcastle’s self-righteous chairman fan boy, cum want-away businessman’s grandiose designs of a club that in no way lives up to his ideologies, had rendered Hughton’s position untenable. “We want someone more famous“, as Ashley might as well have said.
This is a man that took the helm of a sinking ship in the aftermath of Alan Shearer’s frankly laughable managerial term. A man who led Newcastle to promotion with room to spare, turned what could have been a catastrophe into a firm building block for the stability of Newcastle United. A man that, even this season has led that very same team, almost, that won the Championship, to 11th place, beating the likes of Arsenal and annihilating Aston Villa and Sunderland (6 and 5-0 respectively). Yet this man was not good enough it appears.
Hughton, a man who’s moral fibre is so interlinked to the heart of St James’, that he was fast becoming a piece of the furniture, is no more. The delightful Ashley wants a new, more expensive, plaything.
I don’t envy that man, the next to take helm at the Geordie juggernaut. To replace a man who had no need of being replaced, who clinically over-performed with the implements at his disposal, the next manager has quite the job on his hands. Then again though, in Ashley’s eyes it seems a name gets you a long way.
Until an adequate replacement is found Newcastle is vulnerable, an un-tethered ship drifting; destination relegation zone anyone? That is the reality: Newcastle’s squad is only marginally, if at all, better than the teams currently occupying the relegation zone Wolves, West Ham and Wigan. Newcastle just had a manager that got on with his job, making the very best out of what he had and now that man has gone.
Hopefully Chris Hughton finds another managerial job sometime soon. He is undoubtedly a fine managerial prospect that the game would miss, but wherever he ends up I can see it tinged with a little sadness. The reality is Hughton, if he gets another job or not, wanted to stay at Newcastle, should of stayed at Newcastle and was only robbed of the chance by an illogical buffoon with eyes bigger than his belly (quite a feat I might add).
Is this the reality of football today? That the globalisation and ‘stature’ of a club supersedes the efforts of a man who’s Newcastle resume was almost beyond repute. Luckily I feel that Ashley is alone in his lunacy. I cannot see to many other ‘chairman’ so blinded by the managerial lights. However, seeing as Hughton was the first, who’s going to be next?
In my opinion there are seven main candidates; headed, at the moment, by the man who’s team sits second in the league.
All the rumours coming out of Chelsea combined with the utter derailing of a team that were seemingly strolling to the title points to the fact that Ancelloti has lost his infallible grip on team affairs. This combined with the yearning of owner Roman Abramovich to see a return on the millions he has invested, could convene to oust Ancho.
In addition to this you have to add in to the equation the three teams in the relegation zone; the W men, Wolves, West Ham and Wigan and the team loitering above the relegation abyss, Fulham. Although not particularly underperforming (Mark Hughes at Fulham the worst of the bunch), the nature of the Premiership-Championship gulf is that some times to be cut-throat is the only way to ensure safety.
I would also add Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson into the equation. Despite his team going on a good run over recent weeks they are still under-performing, as indicated by their entrenchment in the lowly mid-table mire. Come January and into the new year, if Liverpool put a bad run together, the American owners could decide that Roy is no longer their boy and look for a manager that can live up to the club’s proud heritage.
Finally I will put Roberto Mancini’s name into the hat. Not because he is under-performing (although a chronic lack of goals is proving an issue), but because the Man City host seat by it’s very nature is fairly volatile. With untold riches at your back the pressure to perform is always going to be high.
Whoever is the next manager to take his seat on the managerial merry go-round I only hope that he deserves his place. That he has been removed for not achieving the results his club warranted. This, football fans would except, a position that had become untenable due to poor form and low squad moral, a situation whence things could only improve. I can only hope that other Premier League chairman are not as stupid as Mike Ashley.