“The straw that breaks the camel’s back”, describes the seemingly minor or routine action which causes an unpredictably large and sudden reaction, because of the cumulative effect of small actions.”
Minor and routine. Over the last decade, that is exactly what relegation-inspired appointments have become in England’s top flight. Minor and routine. You know the lads. The old-timers. You know their clique and you know their tactics. Not just their on-the-pitch tactics, but their off-the-pitch ones too.
As crazy as this sounds Pardew will still get another despite relegating WBA once you on managerial merry go round you sorted for life
— Darren Ross (@Therealdazross) March 4, 2018
Sitting in the pundits’ chair from August until November, constantly stating their lack of desire to return to management. Before the lad who got the job 12 months ago in Swansea has only gone and fucked it up again at the Liberty Stadium by Christmas. They come in as the “bigger than the club” figure who is constantly reiterating how tough the next few months are going to be, before grinding out 41 points and securing survival with two games to spare. Only to be out the exit door in January of their second season, as the merry-go-round continues, ready for the new manager bounce under Sam Allardyce next year. It feels like this has been happening for years, when in reality it’s actually only been a recent trend.
It feels more topical and bigger than ever this season, with the frankly bonkers relegation battle which literally involves half the league. This season has been a glorious one for the wrinkly British lads in their sixties who’ve sat on the merry-go-round since 2009. They’ve found a loophole in their local theme park’s rules and regulations, stating that the park can’t be shut until everyone’s off the final ride of the evening. Getting full value for money, they’re riding that horse right until the bitter end, circa 2023.
The mid-table managerial market is at full saturation. Crystal Palace losing patience with Frank De Boer (a man who managed Ajax and Inter Milan), after four games. Marco Silva, 9th position on the 19th of December, sacked on the 21st of January. Everton opting for Sam Allardyce in November rather than a long-term plan, despite only needing around 25 points from the rest of the season to stay up with the 8th best squad in the league. Pardew back with maybe the smallest and even the most non-existent managerial bounce of all time. And the football genius David Moyes, appointed to keep West Ham United up, six months after failing to do so with Sunderland.
It does feel like the so-called “bounce” has lost its impact due to the abundance of teams searching for it. It’s no longer novel, and players must surely see through the metaphorical bounce, knowing they’ll have another new manager six months down the line. Like wearing socks to bed for extra warmth, it works the first few times but then you’re always chasing more comfort once you’ve gotten used to it. (A drug analogy probably would’ve been better, but family audience and all that).
Clubs’ desperation to stay up is understandable given the financial consequences of going down, but it comes at the expense of supporters. Imagine being a Swansea City fan. They had enjoyable times under Rodgers and even Laudrup to a lesser extent. Promotion, a mid-table finish and a League Cup win. They were both managers who had a plan and a similar style of play which lasted from 2010 until 2014, they built sides gradually with a clear idea of where they were going.
The Dane was sacked and in the 4 years since, the board have wildly gone through managers such as Garry Monk, Francesco Guidolin, Bob Bradley, Paul Clement and now Carlos Carvalhal. Even that mad Welsh fella, Alan Curtis, who has been at the club since WW2, has racked up 10 games as caretaker boss.
It must be tiring, seeing your club constantly throw everything at staying up with no plan beyond next May. There must be fans of these clubs who would just prefer to go down and start again, with a new squad and new way of thinking.
It’s partly the FA’s fault for the gulf of difference in income between the Championship and the Premier League. TV deals and globalisation further push the top flight into a solar system of its’ own, with every promoted club overhauling their squad and investing in their team like never before, provided your club isn’t owned by Mike Ashley.
There would be a moral victory in Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle United all staying up this season. The only three clubs in the bottom ten who have a long-term sense of direction and faith in their managers. Likewise, there would also be a moral victory in Crystal Palace, Swansea City and West Brom all dropping down. Not necessarily because of the actions of the managers, because in all fairness to Hodgson, Carvalhal and Pardew, they’re making their money and trying their best to keep these teams up.
But rather, it would be a deserved defeat for their boards and ownership. Relegation for the old-school “relegation specialists” could bring owners up and down the country to the realisation that supporters want more than survival. They want both a team and a project to get behind. And no football supporter, nowhere wants to get behind a team managed by Roy Hodgson.
All the best.