Eight Out of Work Managers Revisited
The serious lack of imagination shown by Football League chairmen continues to fuel the managerial carousel. Almost three years ago, we were bemused by Paul Hart’s arrival at Crystal Palace while the likes of Alan Irvine, Brian Laws and Darren Ferguson played musical chairs. Two and a half years on and it’s Dougie Freedman, Mick McCarthy and Dave Jones making sideways moves, as well as Laws again. The message is — don’t be out of a job for too long or you’ll be viewed as yesterday’s man.
No matter how disappointing one’s spell at the helm of a football team, if it’s recent enough, it constitutes experience — and that would seem to be quite enough. The suggestion is that the game changes swiftly and anyone whose main achievements date back more than half a decade is in danger of finding themselves forever washed up on a crowded shore of has beens.
That study from 2010 focused on eight bosses then casting around for a job, so I thought it would be salutary to see how each has fared since. At the time, we made the argument that all might fall into the still employable category even if the inclusion of Carlton Palmer was a tad tongue in cheek.
One of the busiest since; on our list of the then unemployed, Megson spent a year of the intervening period at the helm of Sheffield Wednesday, the club his father Don captained in the 1960s and which he himself distinguished with his presence during their more recent glory years. At the time of his sacking this February, John Leigh bemoaned the lack of loyalty shown to a returning hero by the club, a lofty third place in the table and a win over Sheffield United seemingly ignorable. True, Dave Jones completed the promotion job but the Wednesdayites’ current predicament is making those who chose to jettison the Ginger Mourinho look rather silly indeed.
If Ipswich Town have shown signs of revival under Mick McCarthy, the 21 month reign of Paul Jewell at Portman Road merely saw the Suffolk club sink further into the mire after several years of under achievement. Jewell’s supply teacher style and rumoured lack of insistence that his players train hard left them woefully under equipped to compete effectively in the Championship and it is damning that his spell in charge saw the Tractor Boys transition from perennial play-off contenders to a club one firmly associates with the bottom half of the table. Gavin Barber summed up the defamation of a man bereft of a Plan B here.
The scope of Tigana’s peregrinations would shame Tristram Shandy. A three year hiatus after leaving BeÅŸiktaÅŸ ended with the former French national team hero rolling up back in his home league for the first time since a successful spell at Monaco which ended in 1999; his new destination Bordeaux. Following Laurent Blanc, however, would prove to be no easy task and verbal threats aimed at his daughter in the wake of a 4-0 capitulation at Sochaux saw him resign the role in May 2011. He subsequently turned up as a pawn in the curious game being enacted at Shanghai Shenhua but left China before the arrival of Didier Drogba, to be replaced by the Argentine Sergio Batista.
Coppell’s arrival at Bristol City the following Spring left us with a record number of hits for one of our posts at the time and his double act with David James promised much. Of course it didn’t turn out that way; Coppell quitting before his time in the role had hardly begun and causing a false start of such juddering proportions that the Robins still find themselves in a pickle directly linked to these events. His own man, Coppell laid low for a time but has since appeared as Director of Football at Crawley Town, whilst symbolising that club’s attempted image change from nouveaux riches upstarts to adherents of sustainable growth. Tempting Sean O’Driscoll to Broadfield Stadium was a coup even if he ended up ‘doing a Coppell’ himself. Crawley lie a creditable tenth in the League One table and Coppell is back in business.
Hoddle has presumably amassed enough of a fortune in his time in football to be able to pick and choose what his next job will be and his nurturing of the Glenn Hoddle Academy seems to satisfy him far more than his acrimonious time in the Wolves and Tottenham hot seats. A tie in with Jerez Industrial fell apart however and recent leanings have seen the Academy attempt to court business in the Middle East and South Africa. Pickings so far have been slim but the project probably deserves to be judged over the medium to long term.
The managerial record of the man known as ‘Curbs’ is now as distant a memory as rationing, bread & dripping and the treatment of illness with vinegar and brown paper. The endless, ‘will he? won’t he?’ when Curbishley still to this day is linked with every new position that comes available has now become tedious in the extreme. One assumes he has crossed the threshold of the odd interview room or dozen but has perhaps argued too forcibly for a high salary and turned his nose up too much at opportunities he feels are beneath him. Right to be proud of his achievements at Charlton and, to a lesser extent, West Ham, there comes a time when harking back to the past isn’t enough and the level of club he can expect to next find himself at dips by the month. A £2.2 million compensation pay out from the Hammers might make him less anxious that one would expect him to be to join — say — Birmingham City.
The aforementioned’s likelihood of returning to managerial duty was pronounced as about as likely as a megalosaurus building a nest on Clapham Common and so it has proved. An appearance on Come Dine With Me followed previous dalliances with the real estate business, an appearance in an advert for a betting firm and coaching for an independent school. No call yet for a return to Edgeley Park.
Wisey’s involvement at a higher level than just manager at Newcastle has been one of the unlikeliest subtexts of these recent footballing years. Receiving opprobrium from the saintly Bobby Robson (anyone brave enough to take on the former England boss in our sacred cows series? – do get in touch) would always see him struggle to regain gainful employment but he was strongly linked with the Coventry City job recently and is clearly positioning himself for a return – this probably won’t be at MK Dons mind.