Published On: Fri, Jun 21st, 2013

The Managerial Merry-Go-Round

I like to imagine the Premier League management system as a sort of playground ride, like a relentless and never-ending roundabout. Some hop on and take a few spins, having some success and maybe a few trips and falls. Others act like the hyper child and throw themselves head-on into the wheel, like a cadaver heaved into the gears of some brutal machine. These ones end up mangled between the bars, dragged round for a few turns on their head before leaving, broken and crippled, a shell of their former selves.

The close season this year has seen a higher number of casualties in the managerial department than usual. For fans of those sides with outbound and new inbound coaches, the decisions have massive bearing on the expectations and preparations for the season to come.

Some, such as Chelsea, will be relishing the starting gun, having seen the changes they dreamed of for so long come to fruition. Others like Manchester United will be anxious to see how their new coaches fare, whether they can uphold a level of success their respective clubs have come to enjoy and anticipate.

And if anyone’s got a level of expectation surrounding them, it’s surely David Moyes. Or Atlas, as we might come to call him, with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Sir Alex was the big kid in the playground, the one that just sat in the middle of the roundaboutimage (1) watching others cling on at the edges for dear life. He had no chance of falling off, he just stayed on so long it eventually got to teatime and he had to go home. Moyes will be hoping to take that prime position at the centre but only time will tell if he can hang on.

Which brings us across the city to the ‘noisy neighbours’ (yes, I hate that nickname too). There’s definitely an argument to be made that Boab Mancini was harshly and unceremoniously flung from the wheel, especially after delivering the clubs first First Division/Premier League title for nigh-on 50 years.  Ultimately though, the Italian’s shambolic European record was the factor that sealed his fate. Fair enough, you can’t expect a club to go from humdrum also-rans to champions of the continent in such a short space of time, but you only need to look at PSG to see how relative success can be achieved.

Whilst Mancini did a very good job of moulding a solid league side, the lack of European experience throughout the squad was all too evident on their continental forays last season. PSG recruited the likes of Ibrahimovic, Alex and even Thiago Silva, all with a healthy amount of appearances in the Champions League and, as a result, managed to reach the Quarter-Finals in a much shorter space of time than City have been chucking wads about.

Speaking of throwing cheques about like confetti, I think we’re all excited to see how a certain Portugeezer does on his return to English football. Now, although every bit of transfer talk should be taken with a gigantic hill of salt, a couple of Mourinho’s supposed feelings towards current Chelsea players really does baffle me. Specifically the apparent concerns that Jose has around one Juan Mata. According to a few reports, Mourinho may be looking to ship Mata back home as he apparently isn’t convinced by the Spaniard;s talents. Now, far be it from me to openly criticise one of the world’s best managers, but what a load of demented bollocks. If his decisions carry on like this, the now self-dubbed `Happy One` will soon find himself as the alienated one.

To finish up, there’s just one more managerial switch-up I’d like to highlight. Stoke City are regularly (and accurately) labelled as the unfashionable club in the Premier League, and that doesn’t seem likely to change.

Gone, finally, are the days of having to watch Tony ‘Smiler’ Pulis sulking about the place like a spoiled brat not getting a turn in the playground. But now, mother of mercy, we have to cringe and witness what I believe will be the car crash of the season. Hapless Markimage (2) Hughes is the new incumbent and ready to rock the league with some sumptuous football and inspired managerial performances. Oh, sorry, that should’ve read ‘go on a long run of draws and losses and eventually be hounded out the door like a maniacal pished uncle at a small family wedding’. My bad.

Such predictions should of course be left until much of the transfer business has been signed and sealed (though Stoke could sign Messi, Ronaldo and Bale and Hughes would still have them playing like something you’d see in ancient FA archive footage). United, City and Chelsea will no doubt make a good few big signings between now and the start of the season. The disrupting changes could in the end benefit the now longest serving current manager, Arsene Wenger, and the Gooners have never had better chance than now to regain their place among the cream of the crop. Either way, the merry-go-round will keep ferociously spinning, and it remains to be seen which men will grab the bars and hold on for seasons to come and which ones will come off maimed and mutilated.

I’m looking at you, Mark Hughes.

Words by Ali Morrison


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