The old analogy, it seems, rings true. Managerial sackings are just like buses – you wait ages for one then you see them coming a mile off, they are expensive to pay for and ultimately something about them stinks.
The stink in this week’s instances though are more that of the ‘kick up a’ variety and less so the ‘causing a bit of a’ category as, essentially, a good case can be made for both Steve Clarke and Andre Villas-Boas (certainly NOT ‘AVB’) being handed their P45s. The LMA, predictably, were the first on the scene to voice their stinkshouts – lamenting the decisions to relieve both men of their duties (an unfortunate, bordering on the euphemism, term often found lingering around the sack). Fans meanwhile, on the whole, seem to have been rather more accommodating to the change – perhaps because, incredibly, they know more about their clubs and their own expectations than any number of so-called experts from any field.
The usual line in these situations is that expectations of football managers are not realistic, sackings are wild and knee jerk, and the whole sorry incident is so far removed from any sort of real world context that the managers in question may as well have been popped on a table, prodded, and then kicked out of a massive space ship, with a fluorescent wall sounding out ‘You’re fired’ while Daniel Levy recreates White Hart Lane on a plate of mash. Well of course they have no real life context, the men involved are paid millions of pounds to do something we have all been doing, instinctively, from the age of about six. Except, whereas Steve Clarke paid £6 million for Victor Anichebe, six-year olds across the country still have enough about them to pick the fat kid last.
Personally, I love a good sacking. If it was up to me, managers would be forced to answer (on a monthly basis) to all of their ridiculous decisions, before one was bombed out of a job after a discussion between three appointed executives.
‘Here, I hear you were running around the last few minutes of the transfer window in a bladdy Spanish ‘otel trying to buy a guy that wasn’t even there.’
‘We were told he was there, Sir.’
‘Didn’t you do your bladdy research?’
‘Well you never seem to let us use Google’
‘Did you use my Amstrad people zoom device? Fits handily into your hatchback. Moyesie. You asked for a chance to be manager. I’ve given you that, but you couldn’t buy a fish in an aquarium’
‘I don’t think aquariums actually sell…’
A sacking brings with it a storm of unparalleled excitement. After some sort of nadir, a chance for a recovery – fresh ideas, a new approach (if you’re brain flashed up the word ‘project’ or ‘philosophy’ here, seek urgent attention) maybe even some swanky, exotic coach nobody has heard of but who has an impressive YouTube compilation – complete with furious finger-pointing, euphoric knee sliding and slightly worrying denim sporting. Nope, nothing gets the juices going like a good old-fashioned sacking.
Unfortunately, just as your juices are all set to go, somebody comes along and brings you crashing back down to plain old mineral water Earth. Somehow, the early candidates for both vacated jobs have included Martin Jol (who failed so miserably at Fulham, he can lay claim to be the first person to legitimately have failed anything with flying colours) and, bizarrely, Roberto di Matteo and Glenn Hoddle – both fired from the exact jobs they’re being linked with. Hoddle, according to Gary Lineker, qualifies through his brilliant football mind, which Glenn has seemingly left in the same place as his trusted barber, both of which have evidently been missing for quite some time if any recent TV appearances are anything to go by.
As with all things in football – these events must leave us musing at the end ‘ach, but what have we learned?’ Well, what have we learned? Sure, analogies and metaphors can be stretched beyond function with the right levels of application – that’s a given. But also, that sackings are inevitable and, increasingly, acceptable. And as for those still struggling to find any real life similarities to contextualise the validity of these sackings I leave you with this – a handy cut out and keep guide to acceptable real life reasons for sacking football managers, inspired by Messrs Villas Boas and Clarke:
- Looking like you’ve entered every post match interview after a charity golf day with Oliver Reed, sponsored by Special Brew
- Excessive squatting on the job
- Losing any game of football, ever, by five clear goals
- Having your latest haircut done by your mum and asking for ‘The School Prefect.’