Column: Soccer managers are on too short of a leash
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 23:10
Do not lose. I repeat, do not lose.
While that formula would bring a plethora of success, along with numerous accolades and trophies, it's certainly easier said than done.
Ask Roberto Mancini, Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancellotti, Paolo Di Canio, Roberto Di Matteo, Avram Grant, Gus Poyet, or for you die-hard UConn football fans, Paul Pasqualoni.
You get the point.
While not every club's owner is a Roman Abramovich and sifts through managers even after they've won the Premier League or even the Champions League, it's become quite unsettling as a football supporter that managers are not given the proper time to fully delve into a newly-acquired club.
You cannot fire a manager at halftime, like Martin Jol had to suffer years ago. A manager has to feel loved at the club, not booed because he was a former manager at a rival club. Benitez managed at Liverpool, and even led them to the Champions League Final. When he took over as manager of Chelsea, Stamford Bridge poured on the hate when Benitez would field Fernando Torres or the Blues would fall behind. But again, Chelsea finished the season very strong and even won the UEFA Europa League.
Despite the lack of support from owners or even supporters, some managers are able to overcome hardship. Some managers, like Di Canio of Sunderland were overshadowed by a terrible start to their season—one point from the first five or so games. Results do speak for themselves, and as a club falls farther towards the bottom of the table so does the morale of the club.
And now we have David Moyes. While this has nothing to do with the fact that I'm a firm supporter of Manchester United, there's been a recent spat to fire David Moyes. As a firm believer that he's the man for the job, I remain transparent in the fact that results do matter. Should a loss to West Brom be a concern for Moyes' job? Should a struggle to beat Sunderland be any indication that Moyes is not the right man for Old Trafford? As Moyes only took charge of United on July 1 of this year, around four matches into the Premier League season people were already calling for his head.
Not one bit. But I'd imagine those plastic supporters, which every club has, remain quiet in a dark alleyway as Moyes started Adnan Januzaj—the youngster who bagged two goals in United's 2-1 over Sunderland.
He didn't win consistently. He didn't win trophies.
Well know-it-alls, he's won the FA Community Shield. And since the back to back defeats suffered to Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion, he and his staff have fielded sound starting XI's, chock full of intent.
Intent, however, only gets a manager so far. All of the wealth in the world could not save Mark Hughes' job at City when investors gave him the likes of Robinho, Roque Santa Cruz and more.
What managers face is a unique juggling act. The football world is a circus and unfortunately for the managers, there are far more than three small bean bags being tossed up into the air. Managers must manage footballers to understand who plays best with whom, whose ego soars above everyone else, the youth system and of course, the man whose penciled first onto the team-sheet every week.
But that's what makes football majestic. One week your club can be atop the table and even the world. The next, the neatly organized binder that has been put together ever so precisely over the past months, could be ripped to shreds. No matter in Germany, Italy, England or Albania, being a manager in the world’s most beautiful game must be an unimaginable task. In what world is it fair to lift the FA Cup, then fall at the wayside?
While I personally haven't found that utopia as of yet, I can imagine the football world is better this way, heartbreak, and all.