Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Trigger happy Premier League chairmen

With less than half of the unpredictable and fantastic 2013-14 Premier League season passed, one quarter of clubs have changed their managers. Four have been sacked while another departed by mutual consent.

As BT Sport battles with BSkyB for rights to televise matches, more and more money becomes invested in football, and thus the importance for clubs of guaranteeing success becomes ever more pronounced.

This season has seen chairmen crack down on their clubs' managers with unprecedented severity. They are no longer allowed a series of losses while the team adjusts to a new style of play. If a new swathe of players is brought in, they are expected to deliver instant results.

Failure to pass this latter test has resulted in, or at least contributed to, Sunderland and Tottenham departing with their bosses.

The media, this season, have too been faster than ever to shine their spotlight on an underachieving manager. Arsene Wenger was 'in crisis' after the opening day loss to Aston Villa. Andre Villas-Boas went from delivering modest success to leading the sack race in one heavy defeat by Manchester City.

In the weeks that followed it was David Moyes, after consecutive home defeats, whose credentials were being examined. Then Villas-Boas's Spurs lost 0-5 to Liverpool and was out of the job the following morning.

In a cooler, less trigger happy climate, any of the departed managers could still be in their jobs. Here's why the five who have gone should have remained:

Paolo Di Canio (Sunderland), sacked after five games
• Took the reins from Martin O'Neill, who left after winning only two points from a possible 24. Di Canio was an immediate hit, recording back-to-back wins against Newcastle and Everton, and eased Sunderland to safety over Wigan Athletic.
• The team was radically overhauled in the summer. Over a full team's worth of new recruits were brought it, and while the fiery Italian's widely maligned political views may have communicated the wrong message about Sunderland's brand, ultimately it was Di Canio's inability to embed them into a winning outfit which cost him.

Ian Holloway (Crystal Palace), resigned after eight games
• Won promotion from an especially competitive year in the Championship.
• Squad appeared to lack Premier League quality, and Holloway felt he wasn't the person to ensure top-flight survival.

Martin Jol (Fulham), sacked after 13 games
• Built a healthy squad of young and old players

Steve Clarke (West Brom), sacked after 16 games
• Led West Brom to their record points tally and an eight-place finish.
• Beat Manchester United away.

Andre Villas-Boas (Tottenham), sacked after 16 games
• Led Spurs to their record points tally (73).
• Sold a player for a world-record fee
• Left Spurs with the highest win percentage of all Spurs managers since 1899.

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