Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The Managerial Merry-Go-Round

Back when Baddiel and Skinner were funny, their much-loved Fantasy Football show featured a sketch called the managerial merry-go-round. The basic premise of which saw a currently unemployed manager aimlessly going round and round on a deserted fairground carousel.

It was hardly the height of comedy nor the funniest thing on their show (That will forever remain the momment when Statto does a Cantona into the crowd).

My point? None really. Just felt the need for some form of introduction to this piece.

The last week has seen a spate of managerial changes which may have far reaching effects as far as the rest of this season develops.

Lets start at White Hart Lane. Much has been said about the treatment of now former manager Martin Jol and how inappropriately his inevetable sacking was handled by the Spurs board so I wont regurgitate what has no doubt said over and over again in recent weeks. What I will say is that Martin Jol is not completely innocent in all of this. In the summer, the big Dutchman emphatically proclaimed that Spurs would be making waves this season and the only logical progression from years gone by would be qualification for the much sought after Champions league.

Tottenham fans have a lot of affection for Jol and it's easy to turn on the board after the alleged first contact with Juande Ramos. However, Jol unfortunately showed his limitations as a manager by not being able to cope once the heat was turned up on him a little. Tottenham have performed poorly against opposition they feel they should be beating (The surrender against Newcastle last week could have warrented a sacking in itself). That can not be blamed on Levy, Comolli or anyone else. The sign of a good manager would be to ride the wave when the pressure is on. BMJ failed spectacularly in this respect and it's good he got out now before the damage was irrepairable. I was on his side for a while a truly believed he was made of stronger stuff.

And so to his replacement. Juande Ramos has been a revelation in Spain, having led Seville to the brink of the Spanish title, back to back UEFA cups and a place in this season's Champions League, the Spaniard's stock had risen considerably and it's no shock Spurs were so keen to get him in after his record over the last 3 years.

But what before that? Ramos was just your typical run of the mill mid-table manager in Spain before Seville. Successes were few and far between in his career and his almost immediate fall-out with the directors at Espanyol has been well publisised and leaves people to wonder how long or whether at all he would put up with the Levy's and Comolli's and their alleged interferances at WHL.

Ramos has a big job on his hands and unless the Tottenham board can harbour some realistic aspirations in the short term at least then I fear in couple of years we will all be talking about yet another false dawn in the white half of North London.

Staying in Spain, Ramos' old side thumped championship hopefuls Valencia 3-0 at the weekend signaling the end of the road for Los Ches manager Quique Sanchez Flores. Valencia have not had the same man in charge for more than 3 years since the seventies and are constantly subject to stories of in-fighting between the board, management and first-team personel. This from a side that has won 2 Spanish league titles, the UEFA Cup and reached the Champions league final TWICE this decade. It seems like it will be Ronald Koeman (Who, incidently, is set to be replaced at PSV by Martin Jol!!! That's why they call it a merry-go-round!) who will taking the hot seat at The Mestialla although there were rumours that the club were looking at the possibility of brining in Jose Mourinho as a replacement. Imagine the fireworks!!!

Back home, in the doldrums of the Championship, QPR have appointed little known Italian Luigi di Canio to help steer them out of relegation trouble. I'm not entirely sure that anyone really knows what Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore are planning down at Loftus Road but the first step obviously is to make sure they are still playing championship football next season and for some reason they see Di Canio as the man to do it.

The big question is why Mick Harford wasn't kept on considering the job he's done turning the team's fortunes around in the last month or so.

Norwich, gearing up for their big Old FARM derby against Ipswich on Sunday, have appointed Glen Roeder as their manager. If i'm being kind, i'd say that Roeder has a fairly unspectacular CV to date. The Inter-two-bob Cup with Newcastle is about the sum total of his achievements. After bright starts at Watford, West Ham and the Geordies, Reoder seems to get his sides to almost sink without trace - relegating the former two in his respective second seasons with both.

It seems like a desperate appointment by Norwich. They've seen a guy with Premiership experience and taken the plunge. Unfortunately, this doesn't tell you the whole story about the man. Roeder isn't the kind of manager who is able to rouse a struggling team low on confidence and quality. He also strikes me as a man who loses a dressing room very easily when things aren't necessarily going his way. Let's not forget that he struggled with a West Ham side containing the talents of Di Canio, Kanuote, James, Defoe and Carrick etc. He's hardly likely to fair much better with the far from prolific Chris Brown in his side.

So, how will each fair? The most important thing for Tottenham is patience. Rome was not built in a day and Spurs will not be 'great' in just 6 months. If Ramos is left to work without the added pressure from upstairs then he may well turn the club's fortunes around.

Valencia cant seem to do without politics and in-fighting and this will continue regardless of who they bring in. Far from being a bad side however, they will still always be there or thereabouts both in Spain and in Europe (Every season, I still always back them to get to a Champions League final and get it right! Granted things aren't looking so good right now but I'm keeping the faith).

In a few years time we may well all be talking about QPR as a top premiership side after much investment from the F1 guys but for now, thier priority is to avoid relegation. Di Canio has experienced this kind of thing before with Siena and Reggina in Serie A and should the typical unpredictability of the Championship work in their favour, a few wins before xmas could see Rangers out of trouble reletively soon. Norwich? Roeder has a huge task. Unfortunately for the Canaries, his previous record would suggest he's not up to it and sadly, they may well be playing in League one next season.

Finally, a word on Gary Megson at Bolton. Having had to put up with his idea of 'football' for a while when watching Nottingham Forest quite regularly a few years back, I can only say that Bolton Wanderers are doomed!

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