There’s a popular saying that a football manager is only as good as his last result and if he is lucky, his last set of results. Whoever came up with that saying didn’t expect it to become so true and decisive so soon. As the competition between Europe’s elite sides stiffens, the tolerance level of those at the helm of affairs has dwindled considerably and threatens to be on the verge of extinction. It is thus common knowledge now that the job of a football manager is a thankless one and two decisions in recent weeks have really highlighted this.
Jose Mourinho’s dismissal months after leading Chelsea to its first premiership title in five years is a perfect example. Mourinho’s quality was never in doubt but that didn’t stop Abrahamovic from hitting the panic button and resorting to his most trusted quick fix option. Sanity has since been restored to the dressing room and results have improved significantly but out the window has flown Chelsea’s long term plan and proposed stability. In spite of all the arguments in the manager’s favor it, however, remains almost impossible to defend him when his last couple of results include defeats to Bournemouth and Leicester City which placed his team 20 points of pace in their title defense. If the saying above is anything to go by then Mourinho’s dismissal was an expected hazard of his chosen profession.
With a 10-2 victory and a draw against one of Spanish football’s top sides as his most recent results, Rafa Benitez wasn’t expecting the fate that befell his erstwhile rival. His Real Madrid side was just 4 points behind the league leaders and had qualified spectacularly for the knockout stages of the Champion’s League but Florentino Perez wasn’t going to let such measured progress stop him from arranging his favorite press conference. In a club where managers get the boot for about any reason, winning is never enough to stop the axe from coming down heavily. Vicente Del Bosque (not fit for Galactico project), Fabio Capello (unattractive football), and Bernd Schuster (poor results) were all shown the door for various reasons just after winning the league. And to prove that it wasn’t about the Champions League being the priority Jupp Heynckes was sent packing after winning club football’s most priced silverware, the UEFA Champions League. Benitez’s sin, this time, is that, just like Capello’s, “his team did not play beautiful football”. This further casts doubt over the tactical knowledge of those at the helm of affairs as Benitez’s teams have always been known for being very compact and tactical. The decision feels like killing a cat because it has furs. While the focus is more often on Chelsea’s Russian billionaire it is definitely the bosses at the Bernebeu who have earned themselves the title of football’s most ruthless bosses.
Elsewhere, Louis Van Gaal looks set to be the next gaffer to pay the price for turning Old Trafford into a theatre of nightmares while Manuel Pellegrini is touted as the sacrificial lamb for another Pep Guardiorla project. With the expected managerial merry-go-round, next summer promises to bring as much excitement on the managerial front as we normally get from player transfers. After watching Chelsea fans cry and grumble over the departure of their special one, I have just one piece of advice for fans: don’t get too attached to your team’s manager.
Written by Tunde Ajibade.