Wednesday 23rd January 2012
I wrote an article last November when there was speculation that Nigel Adkins would be sacked very soon with his Southampton side lying bottom of the Premiership about why, in the week of Alex Ferguson’s 26th anniversary as manager of Manchester United, Saints chairman, the Italian, Nicola Cortese, should look at the bigger picture. He obviously didn’t. It would have been a farcical decision to relieve Adkins of his duties then let alone now when he and his team have had a decent run of results.
The inexplicable axing of Adkins by the disgusting, despicable and idiotic Cortese again highlights a disturbing trend in football: for some overseas owners, English managers just will. Not. Do.
How else can you explain the dismissal of a man who has guided the South Coast side from League One to the Premiership in the quickest time it can possibly take; a manager of a team that has been finding their feet in one of the world’s toughest league’s after such a meteoric rise with only two defeats in their last 12 league games; a man who has the full support of his players who are playing some very attractive football and gaining enough positive results to get out of the drop zone? All this was not good enough for Cortese. Is it because one is English, darling? I think it is.
Judging by Cortese’s latest antics, we now know that even if Southampton had won the Premiership this season, Adkins would have been sacked for failing to get out the group stage of the Champions League the following season. Mind you, even if he did reach the knockout stages, that probably still would not be acceptable to him. That may sound absurd on my behalf, but it is no more so than the antics of the arrogant Cortese around St. Mary’s.
If I were Alan Partridge I would mock him for having a girl’s name, but I won’t. Although he has got a girl’s name and he knows nothing about football – or at least hasn’t soaked up the knowledge that chopping and changing managers gets a club nowhere. Read a bit of football history and go through many clubs in our divisions and he would see that that this is the case. Blackburn Rovers are probably the most publicised example.
Established clubs like Chelsea – who have not had an English (or British) manager since 1996 – are the exception (considering the honours they’ve won in the Roman Abramovich era), but that is because they have already had great players and money to burn at their disposal.
Watford’s Italian owners gave Sean Dyche the boot last year despite him leading them to their best-placed finish in the Championship since 2008. They brought in fellow Italian, Gianfranco Zola, who admittedly has done well so far in being in the play-off positions at the moment. But Dyche – now at Burnley who are only one place behind the Hornets without the influx of loan stars from Serie A that Zola’s squad have had – did not deserve his fate after what he achieved at Vicarage Road. Who knows, maybe he would have equalled or bettered what Zola has done this season. Racism, xenophobia, whatever you want to call it, has got to be at the heart of these decisions.
What is it that foreign owners don’t like about English managers? Their style of play? Their so-called ‘‘Englishness’’ in the way they approach games? It seems that even if it yields results that are good enough and reasonable for certain teams, they don’t like the ‘‘English’’ way of doing things.
If Englishmen took over clubs in other major footballing nations such as Italy, France, Spain, Germany etc…and fired popular home grown managers with good records (exceptional records in Adkins’ case) in order to replace them and their staff with English personnel, there would quite rightly be outrage. Would we regard this sequence of events as xenophobic? I know I would. Xenophobia can be described as small minded fear of other nations. Small minded is certainly a term that can be applied to Cortese when it comes to football.
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