The continuing fiasco at Nottingham Forest has convinced me of one thing – don’t employ a club legend as your manager.
As a Spurs fan, I can speak from experience with memories of Ardiles and Hoddle having been manager. The former struggled with the initial power sharing between Alan Sugar and Terry Venables, as well as a fantastic attacking line combined with a poor defence, while Hoddle lost Sol Campbell within months of starting and struggled with a poor crop of players, failure to match Arsenal’s achievements and Levy’s expectations.
Of course the fans would never turn on a club legend and there are instances where this scenario has worked out – Keegan’s first spell at Newcastle, George Graham at Arsenal and Howard Kendall at Everton. In the case of the tricky trees (yes, that is a nickname), Stuart Pearce seemed to start well, but things have taken a turn for the worse and psycho has left the City Ground.
Did the fans still sing his name despite the downturn? I expect so. However the situation changed so fast at Forest that Pearce was out and replaced by Dougie Freedman within a matter of hours, something that stung of a planned removal and the departure of the Chief Executive within the following 24 hours suggests that while the fans of Forest support Pearce, the board made moves ahead of time.
This may be an example of how the modern manager is expected to perform – with immediate impact and effort. The argument could be that the modern manager is replicated of the European and American model, where the club gets the players and the manager/coach is expected to work with what they are given.
Take Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s recent comments in his column in the Arsenal programme ahead of the game against Aston Villa. He talked of signings of how if a player is bought by the manager they are bought by someone who selected them, and “that gives you a certain level of confidence that you’re really wanted and that you have a chance to play.” Wise words from the Professor, but he is speaking the truth about one method of management, while a more modern one is the “top down approach” where a coach is just that, a coach.
Was this the case at Nottingham Forest, where another manager has fallen on his sword because of the actions of the owners? Take last night’s deadline day activity where West Ham United chairman David Gold advised people not to go to bed in a kind of reverse Freddie Kreuger action. Why was the chairman advising instead of the manager? Is the chairman picking the team over “Big” Sam Allardyce?
The role of the football manager is changing and the situation is dividing the new and old schools of ways of doing things. Sadly some eggs are being broken as a result.