- Arts & Literature
- Science & Technology
By Sownak Bose
The freedom of movement of labour has been a long-standing and adhered-to concept since all the way back into the Vedic age. We of course cherish the right to relocate and redistribute our skills to any place, at any time. But as far as managers in football switching jobs is concerned, should there be a degree of discretion involved?
With football becoming more and more a results-based business, owners are often in search of the quick-fix solution to turn things around. When it comes to changing around the playing staff, patience is generally more of a requisite — transfers for players being only allowed during the summer and January transfer windows. For managers, however, there appears to be no such limitation, with everyone pretty free to hop onto the proverbial merry-go-round at any time during the season.
It has been said of club owners that the ownership culture has started to slowly drain the soul out of the club itself, the club name more a “product” in the “business” of football. Allowing the manager a set period, or a minimum duration in which to work his “magic” would at least be an involuntary show of faith in him. I guess that an issue that presents itself at this point is regarding the timing of the window itself — summer-January as for players, or just a summer window in which to shake up the management? The latter at least allows the incoming manager to then sign players and rearrange the squad in a manner that best reflects his philosophy, rather than having to resurrect a team of unknown quantities.
One must remember that managerial departures are not always due to a sacking — the approaches of a bigger club can leave the now manager less club in a state of limbo, which can obviously manifest itself in the form of low morale across the club and its fans. The window would certainly prevent a club from losing their stability partway through the season.
As with anything however, there are the question marks. What would happen, if for instance a club was forced to sack their manager mid-season after a string of disastrous results, or if the manager himself has to leave for some personal reason? Does the club get forced into appointing a caretaker manager from their back room staff, or bring in the manager equivalent of a free-agent? Surely the introduction of such a window can’t protect people from losing their jobs, or prevent them from resigning for that matter. Neither can you expect clubs to settle for the next best alternative — the board and the owners will always want the ideal man for the job. We might eventually start seeing astronomical figures being paid out in the managerial market as well, when more than one club wants one man.
It makes for some interesting scenarios as well, when you consider where Tottenham and Liverpool would be now, had Harry Redknapp and Kenny Dalglish respectively not come in at the times that they did. Spurs were very much in the relegation zone in the twilight of Juande Ramos’s reign, and Liverpool themselves were not too far adrift of the bottom three under Roy Hodgson. Indeed, if Roman Abramovich had to stick with José Mourinho, would he have turned things around in 2008, and might have Chelsea won the Champions League by now?
There must surely be a middle ground between the two — a way to ensure that managers are not relieved of their duties at the touch of a button, or conversely, so that clubs do not have their hands tied when it comes to recruiting the new man for the job. But, alas, striking the right balance is always the perennial problem in football, and indeed, life as a whole.