This Christmas period has been a stressful one for many a football manager with a few losing their jobs and others losing their heads.
Blackburn Rovers owners, the Venky family, have decided that Christmas wasn’t just a good time for them to get rid of their turkeys as they sacked boss Henning Berg, who had only been in charge at the club for 57 days.
I can see why they made the decision. Blackburn have a decent squad and were in the play-off positions when Berg took over. Since then they have had a dreadful run of results and now find themselves in 17th spot in the Championship.
Now my issue with Blackburn is all about timing.
They should have got rid of former boss Steve Kean at the end of last season. Then had a few weeks getting in the right man and giving that man the summer to work with his new team and get them ready for the tough season ahead.
They decided not to do that and Kean started the season as the manager. Now he didn’t start the season badly but his relationship with the fans had deteriorated beyond repair by this time. So no matter what was happening on the pitch, fans would not support Kean and stayed away.
Every observer could see this except for those running the club. Berg would come in and the slide would continue and now Blackburn are on the lookout for their third boss in six months.
Once again the owners and the global adviser seem set to appoint a quiet, low profile coach as their next gaffer. This looks set to be former Aston Villa caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald.
They want a manager that is unassuming, that wont make demands and who is happy to just have a job. The higher profile candidates currently out of work like Mark Hughes, Roberto Di Matteo and Owen Coyle would not entertain the idea of coming in to Ewood park at this time.
That said I doubt the owners would want them. They don’t want a manager that will have a higher profile than them and that would demand that they do things properly. They want a yes man.
For me, Billy Davies would have been a good boss for Rovers. He has great experience of getting the best out of teams in that league, he does well on a budget and will be ready for a new job. Problem would be, that his demands on the board would be frowned upon by the owners.
I have no idea why Nottingham Forest decided to get rid of Sean O’Driscoll. After five months in charge of the side, O’Driscoll had guided the club to eighth place in the Championship. They are only a point off the play-offs and had just beaten Leeds Utd 4-2, when the Al Hasawi family decided to relieve him of his duties.
After the sacking Forest said they were…
“looking to bring in an ambitious manager with Premier League experience”.
“with the January transfer window approaching, we feel it’s the right time to make a change”.
Ok so the first line makes sense. But why did they appoint O’Driscoll in the first place?
What did he do wrong in those five months? As an outsider looking in, it seems to me he did very little wrong.
The fact Alex McLeish has taken over in the space of 48 hours proves to me that this decision was taken before Boxing Day.
I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to learn that McLeish or at least his representatives had been spoken too, had been offered the job and it had been accepted before this Christmas period.
The owners want ‘Big Eck’ in for the January transfer window, they had already stated so in their statement. He will have already drawn up a shortlist of players that he will want to cement a promotion push.
Now just how long has McLeish been in the ear of Chairman Omar Al Hasawi?
Alan Hutton, a player that had played under Alex at Rangers, Aston Villa and Scotland, signed for Forest on the 22 of November. It wasn’t Sean O’Driscoll that would comment on the new signing but the chairman who said…
“Like most of the signings we have made, Alan brings great experience to our squad.”
“He has played at the very highest level and will be a big asset to us over the next six weeks.”
So maybe McLeish had been advising the Forest board well before becoming the new club boss.
At 70, Sir Alex Ferguson’s passion doesn’t seem to be waning.
During Man United’s 4-3 win over Newcastle Utd, he felt the referee had wrongly over-ruled his linesman when giving Newcastle a goal.
Looking at the goal again, I think that ref Mike Dean got it spot on. Johnny Evans didn’t have his arm pulled as Fergie had suggested, if anything Evans was trying to push Papiss Cisse further offside. Evans then fell on his own momentum and put the ball past his own keeper. For me Cisse wasn’t interfering with play.
Ferguson would have words with the ref after half-time and was basically told to ‘move on’ by Dean who was having none of it.
The ref decided that the incident wasn’t worth noting and thus Sir Alex wasn’t called up by the FA to explain himself.
A few managers would then be asked by the press to comment on the situation as they saw it. A few would then have a pop at the Man Utd gaffer.
One to do so would be Alan Pardew, who has now received a verbally volley back from the Scotsman, who said this…
“Alan Pardew is the worst for haranguing referees. His whole staff [do it] every game,”
“I wasn’t abusive of the referee – some managers push the linesman and make a joke of it,”
“I’m not making a joke of it. I think [the goal] should’ve been disallowed, I really do. [Pardew] shoves the referee and makes a joke of it, and he’s got the cheek to criticise – it’s unbelievable.”
“He forgets the help I gave him by the way”
“The press have had a field day out of it. They have addressed every possible avenue. The only one they have left out is Barack Obama. He is too busy.
“That is unfortunate. I carry that because I am the manager of the most famous club in the world. I am not like Newcastle, a wee club in the north east.”
This is all typical Fergie.
He points out that the opposition did the same to the refereeing team that day, this is proved by tv footage. He points to the fact that Pardew laid his hands on an official earlier on in the season, basically saying Pardew is worse than Fergie.
He then pointedly reminds his opposite number that he has helped him out various times in the past (You can bet your bottom dollar, Man Utd will not be so easy to deal with in the future when it comes to Newcastle). He then spins the ‘I am a victim’ line and gets his own fans and players behind him with the ‘most famous club in the world’ part. Before rounding it all off with his favourite trick, a dig at the opposition club who must be ‘wee’ and jealous of him and his team.
Whether you agree with the tactics or not, they have served him well over the years. He uses stories like these to galvanise himself, his team and his fans. It works for him more often than not. It also gets the press and the fans talking about something else, anything other than the fact Man Utd are currently not playing very well.
Its also very much a warning for Alan Pardew as Ferguson embarrassingly and publicly tires to put him in his place.
I feel a bit sorry for for Roberto Mancini and Harry Redknapp, as they find themselves having to answer to the FA over comments they made about the officiating in their respective games on Boxing Day.
Both managers are under huge pressure at the moment and after every game they get a microphone shoved under their noses demanding answers.
They make these comments and then find themselves having to answer to the FA.
Neither boss went over the top. They both made good points, stating that the refs made dubious decisions that proved costly.
Maybe the personal joke Mancini made about Kevin Friend having too much Christmas dinner was misguided, but you could tell it was a tongue in cheek comment.
I hope the FA see sense and let the pair off with no punishment. It seems ridiculous to accept the TV money, demand managers to answer the medias questions and then punish them for just doing their jobs.
Who would be a manager at Christmas eh?
Posted on December 28th, 2012 by scott
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