Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Every season it's the same old story. Managers getting sacked with every passing week and the phrase "managerial merry go round" becoming an overused term.

The life of a football manager certainly seems to be a shortlived one and with the pressure and demand for success seemingly increasing every year, you have to wonder just what makes a player want to take that step into management?

It's little wonder that more and more of the top players decide to go for the more secure media career.

The latest big name casualty is Gareth Southgate, who was sacked as the manager of Middlesborough last night, after nearly three and a half years in charge.

It's been a pretty horrendous time for Southgate at Boro and you've been left wondering why he hasn't been sacked long before now, especially following last season's relegation. The main surprise about Southgate's sacking now though isn't around how long it took for it to come, but the actual timing of it.

With all of Boro's poor performances in recent seasons, and the mixed start to this season, Boro chairman Steve Gibson strangely chose to sack Southgate on the night of a 2-0 home win over Derby that left the Club in 4th place in the Championship, challenging for promotion and only one point off the leaders West Brom. Bizarre.

Does winning a game that puts your Club so close to the top spot merit a sacking? If it's been on past performances, then why not sack him before the game? It's all a bit odd.

It does raise the question, what does a manager have to do to keep his job at some clubs these days.

Look at East Fife. Dave Baikie took us to our first Championship in 60 years. The following season, poor results, poor performances and the failure to secure a playoff spot in the higher league immediately had the previously loyal fans on his back and calling for his head, which we got. At the time it's what a lot of us wanted. Looking back, was it fair?

Vancouver Whitecaps have a coach in Teitur Thordarson who took us to our a Championship win in his first season in charge in 2008. This year, we made the Championship final again and just lost out. Yet, he is still not certain to be at the helm when the Club moves to the MLS in 2011.

It's very easy to call for a manager's head these days. I'm certainly more than guilty of that myself. the way things are going though, where will it all end and will anyone be left wanting to be a manager?

When Brian Clough had his infamous 44 day reign at Leeds United in 1974, that was thought to be a one-off, the way things are going that's going to be come the norm.

We've already seen it with John Barnes at Tranmere this season, who got less than four months in charge after taking over in June, although to be fair, he was woeful!

Steve Gibson's backing of Southgate had previously drawn praise. At last a Chairman who wouldn't bow to fan pressure and wanted to give his manager a proper chance. The chance that Alex Ferguson got at Man U all those years ago.

He'll probably pick up some flak now for sacking him after a win, but what it does mean is that everyone's patience comes to an end at some point. Some sooner than others. There's going to be a lot more nervous managers looking over their shoulders after Southgate's sacking.

It probably isn't fair that the manager takes the blame when the team does poorly. It's going to take a lot to change the minds of people like me, my fellow fans and Club chairmen though. I still have my red cards ready for the next managerial protest coming your way sometime soon!

In the meantime, what's the betting on who's next in the firing line?


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