Football articles

Why the mess at Wolves exemplifies why chairmen and women should exercise more patience with their manager

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Friday 21st June 2013


When the new fixtures were released for the 2013/2014 League One campaign, many Wolverhampton Wanderers fans must have been dreading it. Little over a year ago they were still playing Premiership football and here they were finding out exactly when they will be making trips to Crawley Town and Shrewsbury. Some probably cannot wait to get stuck into the new season because the nearer they are to starting their fight in escaping from the division the better. However, it’s not a foregone conclusion that they will ease through the third tier despite having some players from those heady days of the top-flight still on their books. Just ask Nottingham Forest and Leeds United how hard it was to get out. The club’s second successive relegation – the first through the top two divisions since Swindon Town ‘achieved’ it in the mid 1990s – serves to confirm that patience is a virtue when it comes to keeping faith in a manager, especially one that achieved a good deal with them. Enter Mick McCarthy.

The results in McCarthy’s final campaign were poor, but it is since his sacking in January of the 2011/2012 season where the rot truly started for the club. It was soon after their 5-1 defeat at home to their fellow Midlanders, West Bromwich Albion that the man who got them promoted and then kept up got his marching orders. It smacked of a knee-jerk reaction to an albeit heavy loss that seemed worse or embarrassing because it was by their local rivals. The majority of chairmen and women (or 99 per cent of them most probably) cannot seem to get it into their heads that there are always going to be times when results do not go the way that you want them to go. If these businessmen and women were treated the same way as the managers they fire, then they would never have got to the top themselves.

Wolves’ chairman Steve Morgan and chief executive Jez Moxey were at the centre of the decision to get rid of McCarthy, but many of their supporters didn’t help matters with their booing of the Yorkshireman/Irishman/whatever he is (Barnsley born man would be a more accurate description). I wonder how those fans feel now. The sacking policies of chairmen and women seemed to have got into the minds of the fickle. Supporters have always called for the head of bosses when things haven’t been going well, but there’s less tolerance these days. Maybe it’s the fast-food, I-want-it-now culture we live in. But you would think that successful businessmen and women would have more sense. Turns out that hardly any of them know much about football.

McCarthy took over Ipswich Town when they were bottom of the Championship with seven points from 13 matches last season. He ended up gaining 53 from the remaining 33 fixtures – an average of 1.60 points per game. Multiply that average by the number of matches each team plays in an entire campaign and you get 73.6, which would have been enough to finish in fifth position above newly promoted Crystal Palace. That could have been Wolves, although if they had kept him on until at least the end of the 2011/2012 season, they may not have been relegated in the first place. The board deserve all the scorn they’ve been receiving.

The idiotic tendencies of them, and the Venky’s at one of the other relegated clubs from the Premiership in 2012, Blackburn Rovers, are prime examples of people coming into football without the right temperament for the game. But they are at virtually every club in the land. Alan Pardew is the second longest serving manager in the Premiership having been at Newcastle United for a mind blowing 30 months behind Arsene Wenger’s near 17 years, although that now looks under threat with the arrival of Joe Kinnear on Tyneside. The longest serving boss throughout the three divisions below is Paul Tisdale who was appointed by Exeter City seven years ago. Derby County’s Nigel Clough has been at the helm for the most amount of unbroken time in the Championship with four and a half years to his name, followed by Gustavo Poyet of Brighton & Hove Albion coming in at just under four years, although taking recent happenings around the club into account, that looks to be ending soon. Chris Powell of Charlton Athletic is next with two and a half years under his belt, and after him, it’s just a mishmash of stints belowthe two year mark. Even with the knowledge that clubs sack managers far too easily these days, it’s a real eye opener.

Some leave of their own accord, but many are forced out, while the vast majority are simply disregarded by inept chairmen and women. They are merely a strand connected to the woolly jumper of uncertainty most of us face in modern times (hope you all liked that metaphor). But with the amount of compensation they end up having to pay to their growing number of former employees, who needs a bleeding recession? One only has to look at a list of the longest serving managers in England right now to know how precarious the job is under dictatorial board members. The situation that Wolverhampton Wanderers find themselves in should be an example to all those erratic business brains out there: patience is a virtue in football, and unless you’re a Chelsea or a Real Madrid, you’re going to get severely punished without it.

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