The Demise of Sanity and Stability in Football


Prime ministers and presidents are routinely afforded four or five-year tenures but football's addiction to short-termism dictates that its often authoritarian chairmen tend to abide by very different rules.

The game is a parallel universe in which Vincent Tan, Cardiff's owner, seems capable of making Vladimir Putin appear the wettest of liberals and, after only three years in charge of Newcastle United, Alan Pardew is the Premier League's second longest serving manager behind Arsenal's Arsene Wenger.

In a league which, already this season, has seen Paolo Di Canio, Ian Holloway, Martin Jol, Steve Clarke and Andre Villas-Boas leave their positions. Cardiff's Malky Mackay woke to headlines suggesting he was about to join them but Sam Allardyce, Paul Lambert, Chris Hughton and, perhaps Jose Mourinho too, are probably not sleeping brilliantly. A division lower, the Championship cull has been even more brutal and the list of nervous incumbents is longer.

Despite Cardiff reaching the Premier League and looking capable of staying there under Mackay's assured guidance, control of player recruitment played a key part in his civil war with Tan. Like increasing numbers of Premier League peers, he fronts an often awkwardly uneasy coalition "government" at Cardiff.

While the gargantuan financial costs of relegation to the Championship explains many apparently knee-jerk sackings, the fashion for management hierarchies featuring directors of football brings often fraught politics into the equation.

Villas-Boas could not quite pull off a consummate political skills at Tottenham Hotspur. After initially championing Franco Baldini's appointment as technical director, the Portuguese was reportedly unhappy with some of the seven signings Baldini helped secure as Spurs strove to fill a Gareth Bale sized gap.

Paolo Di Canio had man-management issues at Sunderland but, since his dismissal, he has complained that he did not choose any of the 13 summer arrivals, 12 imported from abroad, recruited by Roberto De Fanti, the Wearside club's director of football.

Sadly, football has become a "results business" and few chairmen appear prepared to play the long game. This partly reflects a wider cultural shift which has seen banks and hedge funds increasingly buying into the prevailing Zeitgeist and prioritising short-term results over even medium-term gains. The idea of a manager sticking around for 27, 17 and 11 years respectively like Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Wenger and David Moyes with Everton looks hopelessly outdated.


Source: Associated Press

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