The pressure of being a football manager has never been as great as it is today. With the ever-increasing flow of money that is being driven into our modern game is it any wonder that owners, supporters and the media are piling pressure on today’s managers to get results?
Roberto Di Matteo was the first managerial casualty of the Premier League season. Chelsea had thrown away top spot in the league and were bordering on exiting the Champions League in the group stages, but this was the guy who achieved what none of his seven predecessors could last season and that was to win the Champions League. He won the FA Cup too that same season both as caretaker manager, and with what some might consider being one of Chelsea’s worst and most aged sides of recent seasons. Now if you ask me that is quite an achievement. But after only four months of this season he was axed and Rafa Benitez became Chelsea seventh manager in five years since “the special one” was fired in 2007.
Two days after Di Matteo the Premier League claimed it’s second victim with the sacking of QPR’s Mark Hughes. After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, QPR came into the new season with a lot of new faces and optimism for the future, so optimistic in fact that they managed to secure the signing of world-class keeper Julio Cesar. But the new players never gelled and after twelve games they were rock bottom with four points and adopted the nickname “Queens Park Strangers”. No one knows whether Hughes could have dragged QPR out of their relegation fight but with Harry Redknapp now at the helm they have one hell of a chance.
Neither Di Matteo nor Mark Hughes were given significant time to see if they could create some form of legacy at their former clubs. With demands from owners getting tougher time is a luxury that most managers do not have nowadays. Billionaire owners seem to want guaranteed success, but everyone knows that is not possible. After sacking Di Matteo, Abramovich was hit with a lot of criticism from within the media and the Chelsea faithful, most of which was probably justified. The Russian isn’t known for his patience when it comes to success. Mark Hughes on the other hand received constant backing from Tony Fernandes that his job was safe albeit via Twitter. But QPR’s results didn’t lie and eventually the Welshman had nowhere to hide and had to be shown the door.
Arsene Wenger is a manager who should be thankful to still have his job after not winning a single piece of silverware in seven years. Long gone are the days of the invincibles where Arsenal could guarantee themselves at least one domestic trophy a year. Nowadays the Gunners are lucky if they secure themselves a spot in the Champions League, and that looks less likely this season with the rise to prominence of Spurs and Everton. It seems to me that Wenger’s legacy at Arsenal is the thing that is keeping him in his job, or the fact that he is doing to best job he can with the quality that is available to him and currently that is not in abundance. Star names like Fabregas, Nasri and Van Persie have made the Frenchman’s job much harder after electing to ply their trade elsewhere in the pursuit of success.
There has been talk that a trophy less season in the blue half of Manchester could spell the end of Roberto Mancini’s reign over last season’s Premier League champions. Money-bags City have won the FA Cup, the Premier League and the Community Shield with Mancini in charge, and there is no doubt he has turned them into a top class team but this season they have been riddled with frailties. Any sort of European glory went out of the window last week after crashing out of the Champions League bottom of their group. The defence of their league crown has also been made a tad more difficult after arch rivals Manchester United ended their two year unbeaten home record and opened up at six point gap at the top of the league. Both of these could prove costly for the Italian and with Mourinho’s tenure in Madrid looking likely to end this season wouldn’t he be an incredible candidate to replace him?