The season starts with so much hope and expectation, new signings, talk of pushing for Europe, improving on last term – optimism abounds. However, with each passing year, huge increases in revenue particularly from a share of the TV deals, and more super-rich foreign owners than ever before, football has seen an increase in short-termism. For so long what was the greatest threat to British football culture has become a hard and fast reality.
It’s early November and we’re just 11 games into the season and so far four Premier League managers have lost their jobs, but it isn’t just lack of time Premier League managers are afforded these days, it’s the bizarre merry-go-round of them that is hard to fathom.
Italian football in the nineties was indeed something quite special, many of the greatest players in world football plied their trade in Serie A, making it the most sought after league in Europe when it came to TV rights and big business investment.
It was where the money was at, some of the transfer figures at the time seemed mind-boggling (not so much so these days), and it was for want of a better description a ruthless game, something that has increasingly crept into British football. Since then Italian football has seen a quite steady decline but one thing that doesn’t change is the head-scratching managerial changes.
Aside from the wonderful football played by AC Milan, Juventus et al, there was the small matter of managerial changes that to an old school British football fan was especially odd. It’s almost easier to look at the individual managers than the clubs themselves.
For example Fabio Capello has managed AC Milan on three separate occasions, however, he has also managed Juventus and AS Roma, seriously, what the f**k! The nomadic Carlo Ancelotti, currently top of every disgruntled fans list of saviours, has also managed fierce rivals AC Milan and Juventus. While miracle worker Claudio Ranieri has got previous, he somehow managed to get the top job at Juventus, AS Roma and Inter Milan.
In fact, when you start to look closely at managerial changes in Italy, you really wonder how the fans are so passionate, Sven-Goran Eriksson has managed AS Roma and Lazio, Giovanni Trapattoni has managed AC Milan twice, Juventus twice and had a stint at Inter Milan. Dino Zoff’s had three separate goes at Lazio, having previously managed Juventus and even Juve’s current manager Massimiliano Allegri was the manager of AC Milan only three years ago.
And the list of multiple stints that managers have had in Italy – let’s not even go there, there must be some serious optimism in the owner’s water over there, maybe third or fourth time lucky, it’s like six months on, six months off. Even Roy Hodgson’s had two cracks at the Inter Milan job!
In the Premier League, it’s almost impossible to imagine a former Manchester United manager ending up at Liverpool, or Everton and Liverpool doing swapsies. I mean could Mauricio Pochettino one day take over from Arsene Wenger?!
But what we may be seeing with the raft of business-minded owners is something that might be taking us closer to that crazy model in the near future. Abramovich has shown scant regard for rivalry by appointing whoever the hell he feels like, plus Mourinho’s had two stints and Guus Hiddink is always in the background like that first girlfriend you always turn back to.
Indeed even the supposedly more pragmatic English owners have caught the bug. Crystal Palace having promised a reboot and a more attacking easy on the eye style of football appointed Frank de Boer to oversee a bright new future for the Eagles. However having ever so patiently sat in the stands for FIVE games, the owners decided enough is enough and booted him out in favour of Roy Hodgson!!
Over at West Ham, cult hero and all round nice guy Slaven Bilic has been given time no doubt, but in terminating his contract the owners have decided that David Moyes who oversaw Sunderland’s relegation last time out is the man to turn things around – maybe he will. But Hammers fans must seriously be wondering what lies ahead for them, they’ve already had Sam Allardyce manage them to middle table safety on more than one occasion, but his style was deemed to lack the flair that the fans crave, and here we are with David Moyes at the helm.
In keeping with the what the f**ks going on theme, Sam Allardyce now looks set to take charge at Everton, that’ll be something else him and Moyes will have in common, not forgetting they’ve both managed Sunderland. Yes, Ronald Koeman who, as little as twelve months ago was being seriously considered as a candidate for the Barcelona job.
And having overseen Everton to a seventh-place finish, 15 points ahead of eighth-placed Southampton his previous club, has got the boot. Indeed during his time at Southampton, Koeman led the club to a seventh-place finish before leading them to their highest ever finish of sixth and a record points tally of 63 with a spot in Europe for good measure.
Ex-Premier League champions Leicester City have decided that having managed to steer the club out of choppy waters, and unequivocally having the ‘support of the dressing room’, Craig Shakespeare, who signed a three year contract in June, after just eight games of the season and some heavy investment, is no longer the man for the job.
No, it turns out that man is Claude Puel, the same manager who by all accounts left Southampton fans bereft of inspiration and hope. Shakespeare’s crime, on the other hand, was failing to garner a satisfactory number of points from the opening eight games of the season which included tough away trips to Arsenal and Man United, home games with Liverpool and Chelsea, not to mention a victory over Liverpool in the League Cup!
Many of these new owners entering the footballing arena have little or no care for what was the beautiful game. Indeed the majority see clubs as cash cows to be milked and treat managers like contestants on The Apprentice, raising their fingers and firing at the first sniff of failure.
As we wave goodbye to the old guard Koeman, de Boer and Bilic, it’s now over to the league’s bright young managers, Roy Hodgson, David Moyes, Claude Puel and perhaps even Big Sam. Seriously, there’s plenty of fans that need a reality check, but what the f**k!
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