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Is hiring a one-club manager a mistake?

Saturday 26th May 2018

Sean Dyche, Eddie Howe, Diego Simeone. The trio are prime examples of managers who are linked with vacancies when they arise [Dyche to Everton, Howe to Arsenal, Simeone to Chelsea] because they have carved out a reputation at one club. Dyche, Howe, and Simeone aren't the only such coaches; they are just at the fore right now. But is appointing a manager so entrenched in the structure of one club the best idea?

There is an obvious appeal in targeting the type. They are perceived to be low risk. Each has a proven track record, a distinctive, well-known style and shown he can handle players. A chairman knows what he's getting.

The question is whether practicality matches theory? You could be trying to catch lightning in a bottle. You are essentially asking your new man to carbon copy the work done at his previous club. To me, that's madness. Here's why.

Different ingredients require a new recipe

As a chairman, you are taking one manager’s methods and transplanting them to a new squad.  Most, if not all, those players will be accustomed to a different system. You are asking this new group to buy into the new boss' method sight unseen. 

This is possible perhaps with players previously out of favour. To secure a starting spot, they may open their minds. In general, though, players are like the rest of us. I find it unlikely a dressing room will easily accept someone coming in and making wholesale changes, be it to tactics, training, diet or anything else. Look at Pep Guardiola's first season at City. Or David Moyes and Gary Neville's failed efforts in Spain. Dyche’s methods may work perfectly at Burnley. Would the effect be mirrored at Everton or any other club? There is no guarantee.


Meanwhile, what happens to the new manager's former team? They have become so ingrained in one system; it defines them. Training methods, maybe even entire training complexes have been set up to that manager’s vision and specifications. The roster suits his tactics. 

And if he isn’t around anymore? What then? Will the new manager do things differently? Playing style? Training methods? Will he dispense with squad members he doesn’t fancy?

What about players who signed for the old gaffer just before he left?  If you sign for Bournemouth under Eddie Howe, you know exactly what you are signing up for. But what if he wasn’t there? What have you gotten yourself into?

The same principle can be applied to Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid. Atleti are famous for their tight, compact, defensively organised style that relies on swift counterattacks. That's all Simeone’s doing. Could another manager build on that when the Argentine leaves or will he have to tear it all down? And will Simeone be prepared to start from scratch at his next stop or will he expect just to plug and play?

Unrealistic Expectations

David Moyes was caught between a rock and a hard place at Old Trafford. He couldn't emulate Sir Alex Ferguson although the man himself thought he was the closest thing in existence. Nor could he turn Manchester United into Everton. In hindsight, it could easily be argued that Moyes was over-promoted. Moyes hasn’t lasted more than few months in any job since he left. Whatever the reason, he was nowhere near the same manager after leaving Goodison Park.

Everton is not the same since he left, either. The Toffees have struggled to find a new identity. 

These are the twin risks in hiring a long-serving manager away from his club. Said club might have difficulty finding a manager who matches his predecessor's ethos and methods. The manager risks his reputation. 

Managers have confidence and ambition. Clubs often envy another's success. You hear all the time how someone is looking for a new challenge. Sometimes, though, a manager and club are a perfect fit for each other. Parting them can set both on a ruinous path.

Jonathan Kahn

I love the Premier League and I am a season ticket holder at Manchester United. However, I do follow my local club Bury FC as much as possible. I'm a lover of all things related to football, especially like the odd game of FIFA and more than the odd game of Football Manager. If you don't find me talking about actual football you will usually find me talking about Fantasy Football. I'm a self-confessed addict. 

I'm definitely a football addict.

Total articles: 57

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