My weekly (sort of) column looking back on the events in the Football League Championship.

This week we look at the constant managerial merry-go-round and question whether it’s necessary. We also look at the types of manager required to get out of this league, upwards of course.

  • Lee Clarke is the ninth manager to lose his job in the Championship this season.
  • Is it right that football is a results driven business?
  • Should managers be given more time?
  • Fulham sacked Magath over a month ago, won 4 out of 7 since.
  • Sami Hyppia under pressure, it’s his first time in the Football League as a manager or player.
Lee Clark had been in charge at St Andrews for two and a bit years. He won 33 out of 116 games at the club. Photo courtesy of Action Images.

Lee Clark had been in charge at St Andrews for two and a bit years. He won 33 out of 116 games at the club. Picture courtesy of Action Images.

I read last week that when Birmingham City sacked Lee Clarke, up the M6 at Blackburn, Gary Bowyer became the fifth longest serving manager in the Championship. He was appointed in May 2013.  On the surface it screams lack of patience and short-termism, and really drums home the idea that football is a results driven business. Given the money they are on, I would expect nothing less. This certainly isn’t a cry pleading for patience, I’m all for chop and change.

Clarke was the the ninth manager in the league to leave his job and we’re only two and a half months into the season. Albeit three of those changes involved Watford making it seven teams who have changed managers. But when you look at those teams:

  • Huddersfield, Cardiff and Fulham have all shown marked improvement.
  • Bolton have only just appointed Neil Lennon so it would be too early to judge whilst Birmingham remain manager-less.
  • The situation at Watford seems bizarre but whatever they’re doing, it’s working as they sit second.
  • Leeds, having won 3 out 4 under caretaker Neil Redfearn, appointed Darko Milanic who is yet to win in six games.

So I would call that four successes so far with two clubs still to be decided on. Whilst down at Elland Road, Leeds have struggled to make any progress under Milanic, who was appointed by Massimo Celino last month. Let me draw on an interesting quote from the unusual Italian:

“I don’t know (why I’ve chosen him). Coaches are like watermelons. You find out about them when you open them.”

Massimo Cellino said this after hiring Darko Milanic, he also made similar 'water-melon' comments after appointing David Hockaday.

Massimo Cellino said this after hiring Darko Milanic, he also made similar ‘water-melon’ comments after appointing David Hockaday. Picture courtesy of PA.

I partially agree with his comment, in the sense that you can’t predict the future, you can’t predict how well a manager is going to do. There are countless failed attempts from managers who were appointed with the majority of fans under the assumption they will do at the very least “ok”, (Hodgson – Liverpool, Blackburn, England??) but of course they end up managing a catastrophe (sorry Moysey) and end up back on the dole with their p45 in between their legs (Iain Dowie is still available).

BUT

What Cellino is trying to say is every manager you hire is a gamble and that simply isn’t true. What the Italian lacks is a knowledge of who in England has the credentials to get Leeds on the right path. He has simply made two ultimately bad decisions in his appointments, that said I’m not knocking managers like Felix Magath, Darko Milanic etc, they hold good manager records outside England, but the Championship is a different ball game.

Look at the managers promoted last year, Nigel Pearson, Sean Dyche and Harry Redknapp. Not forgetting Steve McLaren’s Derby who were so unlucky in that play-off final five months ago. What do all these four managers have in common? No it’s not that they all love being ginger (Pearson wishes he was), they’re all accomplished and experienced in the second  tier of English football. That is not something that is innate or bought, it is earned through years of built up experience. Sami Hyppia at Brighton, in my book, could be next to go, he might well go on to prove me wrong and I hope he does, but the cynic in me believes he isn’t old enough or knowledgeable enough to get this team promoted.

Sammi Hyypia previosuly managed Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League and German Bundesliga. Is he good enough to mount a promotion challenge with Brighton?

Sammi Hyypia previosuly managed Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League and German Bundesliga. Is he good enough to mount a promotion challenge with Brighton? Picture courtesy of Getty.

That all said this whole article could be put to shame by impressive jobs being carried out by Aitor Karanka and Bob Peeters at Middlesbrough and Charlton respectively. Furthermore the poor showing by the well-rounded Nigel Adkins down at Reading is one that needs to be questioned. He is actually one of the four managers who have been in the job longer than Blackburn’s Gary Bowyer. The other three being Eddie Howe, Steve Evans and Mick McCarthy. The latter being the ultimate definition of the correct appointment. Apart from his fantastic comedic value, he knows promotion in this league all too well which makes him an outstanding candidate for any team. It is no surprise to see Ipswich in the play-offs at the minute and one expects, at the very least challenging come May. Then there’s the situation at Blackpool, Jose Riga underlines the point I’m trying to get across, but perhaps that’s harsh given their financial situation, things are so bad they had to bring Nile Ranger in.

The supposed gamble of bringing in a manager doesn’t have to be the case. Don’t get me wrong, the choices are starting to dwindle and perhaps this is why the upper hierarchy choose to go abroad, but with success in Europe, comes a lack of English football education. Leeds might well have been on a better path had Neil Redfearn been appointed in the first place. Over at Fulham, someone should have a word with Shahid Khan about giving the job to Symons.

Perhaps this is where Blackburn, Norwich and Sheff Wed set a good example. Looking closer to home at someone who has worked for the club for years, someone who cares about the club.

 


About Author

Sal is currently studying an MA in Sports Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University after graduating two years ago with a degree in Sports Science. He'd like to say writing about Blackburn Rovers would be just as good as playing for them but it probably isn't. It does, however, give him a chance to tell you his version of events down at Ewood and the Football League in general.