Success – A Double Edged Sword


In recent years, you see teams all over Europe chopping and changing manager quite often, in search of success. In a way you can relate it to betting – the more desperate you are to win again, the poorer you become. Liverpool last won a Premier League title 20 something years ago, and even though Rafa Benitez led them to two Champions League finals in his 6 years, he was sacked eventually for not doing the business in the league, in 2010. Since then they have had 3 managers, and the more money they have thrown at players, the poorer they were. Recently they have found the right blend, and the right manager in Brendan Rodgers.

Another perfect example is Inter Milan – once one the best team in the world, just a few short years ago, winning Champions League trophies and Serie A titles. Once they lost key experienced players, they have gone downhill quickly, from Champions League to not even Europa League. Since Rafa Benitez led them to a league and Champions League double in 09/10 (They also won the league the previous 4 seasons under Mourinho and Mancini) they have gone through 4 managers in Leonardo, Gian Piero Gasperini, Andrea Stramaccioni, Claudio Ranieri and now Walter Mazzari is in the hot seat, not setting the world alight.

Barcelona have dominated World football for a few years, but are starting to lag now, even with Messi. Guardiola left the summer before last, leaving Tito Vilanova in charge, who lasted a season before quitting because of illness. He won a La Liga title. With Gerardo Martino now at the helm, and in a week losing to Granada for the first time in 42 years as well as losing to At Madrid to bow out of the Champions League and now Real in the Cup final – rumours are circulating that he may well be replaced by Jurgen Klopp. With Pep winning 14 trophies between 2008 and 2012, the hierarchy are so used to winning, the manager must be the problem, so must go.

Away from clubs competing for titles – you have a great example in Newcastle. Having been used to Champions League or even UEFA Cup football, Freddy Shepherd chopped and changed very often, Mike Ashley has followed suit in order to qualify, which has gone badly. In Italy, new Leeds and Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino has sacked over 35 managers in a smudge over 21 years, often employing ones he has sacked during the same season, only to sack them again.

One that could go either way is Man Utd – after 20 odd years of Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes has struggled in his first season, losing to teams at Old Trafford such as Newcastle, Swansea and WBA – whom they had not lost to in decades. The Glazers could well sack him, and seek a new manager to get them back where they perceive they belong, or stick with the man Fergie’ chose, and gradually build a team that could well fight for titles in the next few seasons.

In many cases, Managers are sacked after a perceived poor spell, which could in fact be where they should be, but because they have done so well previously, it is seen as failure. The downfall of Tata Martino could well be the success of Guardiola. Pressure was on from day 1 to win trophies, with it being pretty much the same team. Same with Moyes – Ferguson won the Premier League with the same team, yet he struggles to win two games in a row.

In several cases like Anji and QPR – they have thrown a lot of money at it, buying 10-15 players at once, and expecting result immediately. QPR are now in the Championship, £160m+ in debt and facing a transfer embargo, not learning from mistakes and buying far too many players. Anji are in the bottom two, and the owner has pulled the plug on their £150m wage bill, meaning the likes of Willian were sold off to raise money.

Patience and a slow, gradual build seems to be the key to success. Diego Simeone has had a couple of seasons at Atletico Madrid now, but work from Flores and Javier Aguirre was the foundation. Their position in the League has gone from 8th or 9th in 2006, to 3rd last season, with the team doing well in Europe, winning two Europa League’s and two Super Cup’s, as well as the domestic Copa Del Rey last season. Now, with less than a quarter of a season to go, they are 2nd in La Liga and into the Semi Final of the Champions League.

They have added a few players a season, replacing big money players like Falcao with Diego Costa. Continuity is key, Thibaut Courtois has had three seasons on loan there from Chelsea, Miranda and Godin have build a solid relationship at the heart of defence, and development of youth players like Koke and Gabi, who has been there for over a decade also helps. This mainframe of the current squad has been there since around 2010 – so they are fully integrated with each other and have tactics down to a tee. They are the perfect example at the moment – they have had 15 managers since 1939! Three may have had more than one spell, but still its incredible to think that some sides have had more managers in a decade that Madrid have had in 75 years

Fans are not exactly helpful in some cases. After years of winning, a few losses bring out the idiots and the glory hunters, who soon disappear. Fan pressure is sometimes a factor in a manager leaving, because if they aren’t happy, owners get itchy trigger fingers once protests and boycotts start as they are losing money, and in the current climate of FFP Rules that is very counter productive.

Lets hope that Martino, Mazzari, Seedorf and Moyes – just a few examples, are given plenty of time to imprint their visions on the teams they manage, otherwise this managerial merry go-round will continue. Fans need to be realistic, patient and most of all supportive, and in the long term they may well be rewarded.