As 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.
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?