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Are Premier League clubs thinking too small when hiring managers?

Thursday 5th April 2018

I wrote a piece about a month ago titled ‘Why Alan Pardew cannot save West Brom." It was clear to me Pardew was not the right man for the West Brom job. The club shouldn’t have hired him in the first place. It’s no surprise then he has become another Premier League managerial casualty. What is surprising, however, is the length of his stay.

No one expected a manager appointed in December to be booted out before season's end. But Pardew is not the man to blame. It’s the people making the decisions behind the scenes. When the former Newcastle and Crystal Palace manager was hired, West Brom was already in danger. In fact, it would have been extraordinary had he been able to keep the club in the Premier League this season. The club should have been thinking beyond this season.

West Brom’s problems are similar to those suffered by several other clubs in the league. West Ham, Stoke, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Swansea, Bournemouth, Huddersfield, and even Everton have struggled this campaign.

For a league that prides itself on being the best, biggest, richest, and most competitive in the world, it still harbours mediocrity when hiring managers. Apart from the top six clubs, Newcastle, and possibly Leicester, no team has a manager who even approaches world class.

Most top-class managers in the world would relish the opportunity to coach in the Premier League, but most clubs have been caught in the habit of recycling dead-weight managers. All some need do to get a new job is be sacked from the old. Go through the list of clubs above and examine their choices.

Club New manager Old club Reason sacked
West Ham David Moyes Sunderland Resigned after relegation
Stoke Paul Lambert Wolves Minimal improvement
Crystal Palace Roy Hodgson England Poor record in tournaments
Southampton Mark Hughes Stoke In drop zone this season
Swansea Carlos Carvalhal Sheffield United Struggling in Championship
Everton Sam Allardyce England Loose-lipped

 

Pardew himself came from Crystal Palace, where he had been flirting with relegation last season. Only Bournemouth and Huddersfield have stayed the course with their managers. Eddie Howe has repaid Bournemouth's faith. The jury is out on David Wagner.

The expression “managerial merry-go-round” aptly describes the situation. I found it amazing Southampton would hire Mark Hughes after his struggles with Stoke City. I won’t be surprised, though, if the club has changed managers again by this time next season. With all this reactionary policy, where is the stability for growth?

As much as it is important to recognise the good job being done by Howe, and Sean Dyche at Burnley, it is also necessary to release and avoid managers who have not shown the necessary competence. Maybe some are not meant to be in charge after all. Craig Shakespeare is now assisting Sam Allardyce after being sacked as manager of Leicester. Premier League clubs need to hire top-class managers to complement the league’s status.

Former Paris Saint-German manager Laurent Blanc has been jobless since leaving PSG in June 2016. He should be managing a Premier League club. Other top managers that should be handling Premier League clubs include Carlo Ancelotti, Luis Enrique, Thomas Tuchel, Eduardo Berizzo and Sinisa Mihajlovic. And these are just the ones without a job at the moment.

Even those currently employed elsewhere would consider it a privilege to be wanted by a Premier League club. If Unai Emery leaves PSG this summer, Everton should sign him. Maybe he can help the club win the Europa League as he did with Sevilla.

Mike Ashley did at least one thing right by hiring Rafael Benitez at Newcastle. When a top-class boss arrives, rather than a relegation specialist, you can afford to let him continue in the job even if the club is relegated. With the right support, he will bring the club right back up. Then the club can invest in better players (which is where Ashley falls short), and the manager can work to take the club to the next level.

The message here is simple: Premier League clubs should think long-term and move with the times. Acquire top-class talent that will manage clubs throughout the league, rendering all those boastful claims regarding its quality, competitiveness, and depth true. Stop recycling dead-weight managers and spare us the monthly hiring and firing ritual.

Emmanuel Odey

Emmanuel is a freelance journalist who lives and breathes the round leather game. He is a contributor on several platforms. You can follow him on Twitter for more.


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