I’m getting fed up of writing about the impatience of chairmen and women in sacking managers, but here goes. I’ll keep it relatively short – although who knows when I get going. I wrote an article nearly two weeks ago about the fickle nature of football being exemplified by Tottenham Hotspur and the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas has just confirmed my thoughts.
Enter Tottenham’s chairman Daniel Levy. The club he owns are only eight points off top spot, six behind second, and five behind that coveted fourth place with 22 games left to play. Does he know what he’s doing? A sensible football person wouldn’t let a manager spend over £100million on seven players and give him only three months to make it work fully.
Spurs have lost five in the league so far this season with three of them being heavy defeats in the form of 3-0, 6-0 and 5-0. For the sake of keeping his job I think Villas-Boas would have been better off losing six or seven matches by one or two goals that would have left him and his side with less points than they’ve got now rather than suffer three humiliations. And they were. There’s no getting away from that, particularly the way they played at home to Liverpool.
But as it is the club are in a decent position both in the league, League Cup and Europa League. As usual it seems that a businessman has let pride and, dare I say it, emotions get the better of him. A bit like how the board at Wolverhampton Wanderers reacted to a 5-1 derby defeat to West Bromwich Albion nearly two years ago when they sacked Mick McCarthy – didn’t do them much good did it? Embarrassed by losing heavily to their local rivals, they let emotions and pride get in the way of making a logical decision that could have saved them a relegation or two by keeping the man who got them promoted and then kept them up for two seasons. Who knows, the club might still be in the Premier League had McCarthy’s paymasters not been so eager to pull the trigger.
You could say that Boas and his team were not entertaining, which counts for a lot when fans have paid good money to watch them put in a poor performance getting beat 5-0 in the rain. You could also say that he’s used Roberto Soldado in a system that is plainly not working for him. Ex and current pros alike have remarked that Soldado is making all the right moves, but is not getting the service because of the formation and strategy that Boas employs; which is possibly true. But it has to be said that the Spanish striker has missed a few gilt edged chances – one in their 2-2 draw against Manchester United earlier this month comes to mind. He also had a goal disallowed against Liverpool, which could have made it a different game (probably would have still lost, but not by as wide a margin).
Those opinions are all very well, but there’s no getting away from the fact that last season, Villas-Boas helped the club achieve its highest points total since the 1984-85 campaign; albeit having taken over a squad that was built up over a number of years before he became boss. He also has the highest win percentage of any Spurs boss over the past 20 years. Yes, those heavy losses are not expected, but I really do get the feeling that if Tottenham had been more entertaining, but lost six or seven games and been two or three points worse off than they are now, the Portuguese would not have been relieved of his duties.
If you’d asked the board in August I bet they would take the current state of boredom and higher points tally over the aforementioned scenario. But the human mind reacts to certain things like embarrassment in a strange way. A 5-0 defeat home or away leaves a real sour taste in the mouth whereas two or three losses over time by the odd goal do not – even when combined – make as big an impression as that Liverpool game will have this week; which is why Levy has so hastily done away with Boas. And if you say Levy was not hasty as he has been preparing this for weeks then you’ve answered my point: football is fickle.
Alan Hansen once said ‘‘you win nothing with kids.’’ He was wrong. But you certainly don’t win things, unless you’re Chelsea or Real Madrid, by having a chairman with the attentive football mind of a four year old.
Who I wouldn’t mind getting relegated from the Premiership:
West Bromwich Albion chairman Jeremy Peace (looking like the zombie from one of the first scenes in the Resident Evil computer game on the PlayStation)
As ridiculous as the firing of Boas was, it’s probably not as ludicrous as Steve Clarke’s dismissal from West Brom. 8th last season (their highest top-flight finish since 1981) and currently only five points behind 10th placed Swansea City; whom they would have been ahead of if it wasn’t for some diabolical decisions going against them in certain games.
Bad calls such as Chelsea’s stoppage time penalty at Stamford Bridge, and a non-penalty against Stoke City have proved costly. And are strong examples to demonstrate why match footage should be available to its officials. Every side has things go against them unfairly, but they were worse than most.
The majority of football fans have teams they wouldn’t mind see go down, whether it’s local rivals, clubs featuring players they hate, or ones that have had heavy investment into them like Chelsea, Manchester City and – from a more realistic point of view – Queens Park Rangers last season.
I normally have sides that I would like to see relegated, but up until the past couple of weeks, there was no one in particular that I would have happily seen fall through the trap door (not ones who feasibly could anyway). I’ve now revised this state of affairs and would now happily see Fulham, West Brom (unless Martin Jol takes the hot-seat) and Tottenham Hotspur drop into the Championship (I know the odds against the latter are huge, but there you go).
Guess what these clubs have in common. Until the next one… It’s nothing to do with the supporters of the actual club themselves, it’s more to show arrogant and idiotic chairmen and women that patience is a virtue in football.
What do you think of the sackings of Boas and Clarke? Were they warranted? Feel free to leave your thoughts on the comments section or on my pages below: