Managerial changes are all too frequent in football if you ask me. Gaffers at many different clubs come and go faster than Usain Bolt runs the 100 metres. The fact is, stabilisation is the key to a successful club, that’s not just my own humble opinion, it’s sheer fact.
Take a look at the top five longest serving managers in English football today. Sir Alex Ferguson, this man needs no real introduction does he? He has endured some tough times at the Manchester United, but this has been outweighed by the fantastic success he’s had. The board have always had faith in him, and given the time he has always delivered and always produced teams capable of winning trophies at the very top level of the game.
Let me take you to my club now, Dagenham & Redbridge of League Two, managed by John Still; a man who is somewhat infamous throughout the non league and a lot of English football in its entirety. For a start, he manages the team he supports which is always a good sign isn’t it, he knows the club and has done for sometime, moreover he even played for the Daggers many years ago. Words cannot describe where he has taken my club, from mid table in the Conference, he’s guided us into the Football League for the very first time and even into League One; however our stint there was only brief before returning to League Two this season. He’s been the manager for coming up to eight years now, making him the fifth longest serving in England and probably one of the most respected if the truth be told.
He’s done things no one ever thought possible for this little club, taking them from playing against Canvey Island to playing Charlton in just over five seasons, a truly magnificent achievement. Through this time he’s turned down various other job offers because he simply loves the club and is building the future of it as we speak. John and his team have found various gems through the years, the most notable of which has been Craig Mackail Smith who currently plays for Brighton & Hove Albion as well as being a fully fledged International for Scotland. Not only that, but Paul Benson who was signed from White Ensign in the Essex Intermediate League was sold onto Charlton Athletic for a profit. Add to that the two in the Summer, Danny Green & Romain Vincelot; both signed on free transfers, both played fantastically well for the Daggers and were then sold on to clubs of a higher division for around 500K combined.
You see now being around a club for this long enables John to be able to develop various links with other clubs which makes it easier to spot the next up and coming prospect, something that many clubs are unable to do as they don’t have a stable management. We currently have an influx of youngsters ready for future seasons, whether it be Dwight Gayle, Alex Osborn, Ian Gayle or Jonjo Bates, because we have a stable management we have been able to build for the future in the knowledge that John Still will more than likely still be here to slowly bring them in.
Let me tell you now though, all is not good in Essex at the moment. On a dismal run of ten defeats from eleven in the league, the pressure is beginning to mount and some fans are beginning to get increasingly frustrated and the management is more pressurised than before. They have come out and said, if it was any other club with this current run of form, they would have probably been sacked from their tenure. But that’s the beauty of having someone that’s been at the club for so long, that’s taken the club from the non league wilderness into the wonders of League football. They’ve earned their chance to put it right. Other clubs would have got shot of John Still, Terry Harris & Wayne Burnett several games ago, but not us, we’re Dagenham & Redbridge.
We believe in giving managers a chance, after everything John Still has done for us over the years, this is the very least he deserves. The staff and the players recognise that this current run is not good enough and I know that behind the scenes they will be doing everything possible to rectify the situation. The fact is, because they have been with the club for so long, they’ve bought themselves time. This is what it all boils down to really doesn’t it? With all the success we’ve had in recent years, they’ve bought themselves valuable time. John Still has turned down various other better offers from other clubs through the years because he wanted to stick with us, he believed in us. Even this season he turned down Bradford City, a comparatively massive job in favour of sticking with Dagenham, in the knowledge that this season would be transitional and a struggle. Through their commitment and loyalty, they’ve earned my commitment and loyalty, I’m sticking with them because they deserve it, they’re the ones that can sort it out.
It’s the same situation with various other clubs that have had their manager for quite a long time. Arsene Wenger at Arsenal for example, they were on a very poor run at the start of the season, but the fans recognise what he’s done for the club and they were more than happy to give him more time to sort it out. They’ve been rewarded with several good victories in recent weeks including a superb 5-3 win over Chelsea at the weekend. Take a look at Everton, David Moyes has been manager at Goodison for going on ten years, by no means has it been easy, but he’s earned the fans’ and the boards’ trust of being able to get them out of a tight situation. Then take a look at another fine professional of the game, John Coleman of Accrington Stanley. He’s taken them from the Northern League into the Football League in his twelve or so years there. Once again he has the fans trust, they know that he will always be the right man, they’re committed to eachother which is what makes a fantastic rapport.
What do these managers and clubs all have in common? They’re all successful in their own way. Manchester United need no introduction, various league titles, FA Cup’s and European triumphs. Arsenal have won the Premier League numerous times under Wenger as well as the FA Cup and getting to a Champions League Final without spending hardly any money at all. Everton, being able to compete season on season despite their restrictions is an achievement in itself, David Moyes effectively works wonders on a shoestring budget at one of the countries biggest clubs. Accrington Stanley, who could have imagined they’d be in the Football League ten or so years ago, staying in the Football League is another success and getting to the play offs last season simply capped off another fine year. Dagenham & Redbridge, my club. No one could have imagined we’d have been in the Football League ten years ago, let alone being in League One last season. John Still, like the other four managers has legendary status at his club because of his success, loyalty and love for the club.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading!