And the silly season begins…

by Adam Mills

Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece about how England’s youth were becoming a very exciting prospect. A few days ago, those predictions became quite the reality, with the U21s winning 3-0 against Iceland U21s, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scoring a hat-trick to continue their perfect start to the qualifying stage of the Euro 2013 U21 Championships. Much is expected of the Ox, and fellow countrymen, and last night lived up to expectations.

And Arsenal fans are hoping much of the same from Oxlade-Chamberlain, in order to reignite their season. Performances have left a lot to be desired, and despite playing their best football of the season so far against Tottenham in the North London derby just before the international break, some fans are very slowly beginning to question Arsene Wenger’s position at the club.

And that questioning can only mean one thing – Sacking Season is well on the way. October usually signals the time a club’s boardroom door swings shut on another manager, and we begin to see the steady trail of managers heading to the Job Centre.

Peter Reid was our first victim at cash-strapped Plymouth Argyle, and he was very quickly followed by the head of Sean O’Driscoll over at Doncaster Rovers. Steve McClaren resigned days later at Nottingham Forest after a tough start to the season, and Keith Millen disappeared from the helm of Bristol City a day later. And it’s only coming up to the second week of October…

It seems strange that this is where the game finds itself now. The amount of money involved in the game means it is vital for success, and if that success doesn’t seem to be appearing within the first 10 games, start looking for the P45s…

A BBC report this week discovered that in the 2010/11 season, £99m was spent on compensation, legal fees, and double contracts, in order to relieve a manager of his duties. Between August and July last season, 58 managers lost their jobs, whether through resignation, redundancy, or the sack. 25 lost their jobs between October 2010 and February 2011, so this Sacking Season has only just begun…

You hate to see it, but fans and owners demand the wins, and demand that their objectives are met. Fans know where their clubs usually end up, and anything above that is a bonus, but the owners are always striving for more, and unfortunately, if you don’t hit that target, you’re shown the door. Sometimes it works out for the better – for example, Liverpool’s turmoil at the start of last season was met with Roy Hodgson being sacked, and Kenny Dalglish returned to the club and saved them from the ultimate embarrassment of a bottom quarter finish.

However, sometimes it gets worse. Blackburn’s new owners Venky’s sacked Sam Allardyce, who had the club at 13th in the table, which shocked fans, players, and football as a whole. The club handled the situation appallingly, and brought in Steve Kean nine days later as an internal appointment. Kean narrowly missed relegation on the last day of the season, and at this point in time during the current season, Blackburn sit a very lowly 19th, with four points from a possible 21. This has led to fan protests for Kean to be sacked, before it is too late.

But is it always the manager that can get it oh so wrong? In Blackburn’s case, the assistant manager, John Jensen, left the club, and it was seen by many as Venky’s showing that they knew what was wrong with the club. Little has changed in the last 10 days since he was relieved of his duties. The backroom staff can sometimes be what is wrong with the club, and what is causing poor results. Usually, however, the manager has to take the ultimate blame, and will leave the club alongside his backroom staff, leaving a completely clean slate for his successor.

The players can also be a factor – Arsenal’ s poor start to the season has been mainly due to the lack of strength in their squad, with the disappearance of Nasri and Fabregas in the summer, and also a string of injuries that has hampered any assault on the top of the table. Wenger has been blamed by many, but the lack of players at his disposal, and the appalling attitude of some, who seem to be playing for themselves rather than the club, can hardly help his cause.

The constant changes in the manager’s office can unsettle a club, and it can turn fans against the owners if the situation is handled in the wrong way. However, 75% of the time, it works out, and fans continue to go to games and enjoy the football offered by their team. It is an inevitable situation for some clubs, and this time of year always brings the sack to certain managers, and it’s just the way English football is now.

Expect to see many more heads roll between now and the January transfer window…

Agree? Disagree?! Contact me on Twitter – I’m @Adam9309, or use the official site account – @bpfootball!

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