The one thing that would prevent comical AVB-style dismissals

AVB SackedAs a Liverpool supporter, I was unsurprisingly buoyed by The Reds’ emphatic 5-0 victory over Tottenham on Sunday – however, I couldn’t help but be utterly deflated and disillusioned by the sad indictment¬†of the modern game less than 24 hours later.

On Monday it emerged that Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas had lost his job at White Hart Lane after just 54 league games in charge.

Tottenham, admittedly, have endured a mundane start to the campaign but let’s just take a moment to look at the bigger picture:

– In AVB’s first season they recorded their highest ever Premier League total of points

– In the summer they lost their best player - replacing him with a number of players with no previous Premier League experience

– Spurs are successfully through to the quarter finals of the Capital One Cup and the next stage of the Europa League

– They are two points ahead of reigning champions Manchester United

– They are 8 points from the Premier League summit

Embarrassing defeats to West Ham, Manchester City and Liverpool are, of course, unwanted setbacks. But if you take a look at the grand scheme of things, is it really that bad?

The unusually high quota of players arriving at the club in the close season (to cover the loss of their major asset) has clearly had an affect on the performance of the team – but was that unexpected? Evidence shows that implementing a number of new personnel at one time can prove challenging – just ask Sunderland.

But was the situation at Spurs irretrievable? Was it so catastrophically beyond the point of return that Tottenham couldn’t mount a challenge for Champions League football this season? There are still 22 games to play (and 66 points to play for), lest we forget.

AVB’s departure following another heavy defeat to top four rivals seemed inevitable to some but less so was the other Premier League axe from the weekend – West Brom’s Steve Clarke.

Clarke, it could be argued, is another victim of his own success. The former Chelsea and Liverpool assistant guided the Baggies to their highest ever Premier League finish of 8th in 2012/13 but an indifferent start to this season has seen the Midlands club take swift and evasive action.

It seems that winning at Manchester United doesn’t get you a lot these days (or indeed sitting above them in the table if you’re Spurs).


Football is in a frightening place right now and if we’re not careful it will become even more farcical and tempestuous than it has already become. How long will be before a manager gets sacked for leading a team to the top of the table or, dare I say it, winning the Champions League (oh, wait)?

It can’t take much more of this lunancy before something needs to be done. It’s all getting a bit embarrassing. How can a manager build a team, imprint his image, his style on the club if he isn’t given the sufficient time to achieve it?

Why has success become a burden? Surely success should be credited and rewarded with greater patience and reprieve when things do go wrong.

Roberto Di Matteo, Roberto Mancini, Andre Villas-Boas and Steve Clarke (to name just a few recent examples) can all lay claim to the fact their achievements counted against them.

A solution

It is therefore a theory of mine (a pointless suggestion, no doubt) that a “Manager Transfer Window” is something the Premier League should seriously consider. It would be very simple. Beyond extenuating circumstances, each Premier League club would have to keep their manager for at least one season. The window would open at the end of the season and close at the beginning of the following.

If it doesn’t work out then they are able to offload in the summer – think of it like a one year contract (except that you can’t pull the plug midway through). Clubs are then free to go in a different direction with a new manager at the end of the season if they see fit.

It would give managers an adequate amount of time to make their mark on the team and, if it goes badly, well, that’s the club’s fault – they appointed him. It’s about time the clubs themselves started taking responsibility.

In what other industry would you see a system of recruitment continue to fail with alarming regularity? Appoint a manager and become accountable for your decision; would that be too much to ask for?

You know, a sense of normality?

  • meson1

    I agree. Tottenham’s situation is not that bad. The emphatic defeats by City and Liverpool is the result of Tottenham’s defensive injury situation. AVB himself has a the best record of any Spurs manager in the Premier League era. AVB’s sacking is clearly a kneejerk reaction by Spurs’ owners. I think Spurs have just shot themselves in the foot. Making the hiring and firing of managers subject to a transfer window system would serve to avoid this type of dismissal.

    P.S. Second paragraph in “A solution”, the word you want is “except”; not “accept”.

    • Matthew Wood

      Thanks for the comment and well spotted, cheers!

  • Ross

    Good idea on window but this would disadvantage agents who control football. All the managers above were sacked as the agent persuaded the owners that the grass is greener with ‘ mr so & so’, this explains the sackings, nothing to do with result or performance, just down to the murky world of agents and betting.

    • Matthew Wood

      Cheers for the comment, Ross. Sure, I don’t expect anything like this to ever take affect (because, like you say, it would weaken the position of clubs, agents etc.) but the chopping and changing that takes place is becoming ever-more tedious as the seasons go on. A dismissal like AVB’s or Di Matteo’s would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. The game is gradually becoming more and more short-sighted.

  • Ross

    the agents use this time of year (between the player transfer windows) to conduct their business, hence the high numbers of sackings. Until the FA can get a grip on agents this will continue.