The Poisoned Chalice of the Manager and the Devolution of Football

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The Poisoned Chalice of the Manager and the Devolution of Football

This season looks set to become the most turbulent off the field in Premier League history. Already we have seen a takeover, and two managerial departures due to problems in the boardroom.

Not only has Alan Curbishley left West Ham, but Kevin Keegan left Newcastle soon after. It seems the football club owners wanted to buy and sell players, and reports have even emerged from some clubs about the owners picking the team.

If they want to do this they should become managers themselves. Otherwise, if they do all that themselves, the current manager is just a coach taking all the criticism if his team loses.

Different problems pop up in most other clubs. Take Liverpool for example. For the first time in the club's long and illustrious history, off the field problems are overshadowing the on the field performances.

Rumours swirl round about the two billionaire owners being broke, not being to afford the new stadium, refusing to afford Gareth Barry, and yet being able to conjure up the money for the even more expensive Robbie Keane.

All they have succeeded in doing is forcing Rafa Benitez to consider his job, give the players and staff even more unwanted pressure, and make themselves hated figures among Liverpool fans.

However, at some clubs, the owners seem to be perfect for the job. The two most notable examples are Aston Villa, who, under Randy Lerner, have progressed leaps and bounds, without us hearing anything about Lerner at all, and Manchester United.

Man United's owners, the Glazers, must be the best in the league. They don't seem to interfere at all. They stick to their job, and don't try and interfere with Sir Alex Ferguson's.

They have not yet got drunk on the drink called power.

However, Keegan and Curbishley have been called "old fashioned managers", who like to pick the team and make the transfers, as it should be. But if you will remember, a manager choosing the team used to be unheard of.

Back about 50 years ago, the club's owners made the decisions, much like what seems to be happening today.

In fact, even the England team wasn't selected by the England manager. It wasn't until Alf Ramsey came along in 1963 that the England manager actually picked the team and did the tactics for the first time. He proved this way worked by winning the 1966 World Cup.

If we are indeed going back to the times of 50 years ago, in that the owners pick the team and the transfers, however, then it is bad news for managers and fans alike. No-one knows his team better than the manager.

He should always be the boss.

Amongst all the money and apparent progression of football, could we actually be seeing the de-evolution of the beautiful game?

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