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Russell Berrisford

Russell Berrisford

Russell’s support of Derby County eventually led him to leave the country. He has lived in Canada since 2007 and currently writes about soccer for The Vancouver Sun.


Should Promoted Clubs Sack Their Manager?

Written by on February 24, 2011 | 9 Comments »
Posted in English Premier League

If Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham forest get promoted this season should their first order of business be to sack the managers that got them into the Premier League?

It may sound crazy, but both Neil Warnock and Billy Davies have shown themselves at being particularly adept at getting their teams out of the Championship yet not so hot when it comes to keeping them in the top league.

Warnock’s Sheffield United dropped straight back down in 2007, and Davies’ Derby County picked up only six points from the fourteen games that he was in charge of at the start of 2006.

No doubt both of them will cite extenuating circumstances as the cause of their failure; lack of transfer spending or board interference for example, but neither of them can claim to have proven their ability when matched with the big boys.

It’s also interesting to think about what both will do in the off-season if they do remain in their roles. They will almost certainly replace the players that they feel will be unable to cut it in the Premier League.

They will feel no sentimental attachment to any squad member who is not up to scratch and, indeed, why should they?  No-one disputes that moving into the E.P.L is a step up in class for players so why does no board realise the same thing for managers?

Partly it is down to a sense of loyalty, and partly it is down to the fans. It would surely seem churlish in the extreme to fire somebody who has just produced a great season, and the supporters are bound to be behind a manager that has brought the club success, but making hard decisions is what the board is there for, and bringing in somebody with a proven Premier League pedigree makes much more sense than sticking with a man with a history of failure at that level.

Wouldn’t Q.P.R, have  a better chance of staying up if they gave Martin O’Neill the job? How much better would Forest fare if they had Sam Allardyce in charge? I’ll wager that they would both do better than they would with their current  leaders.

This doesn’t mean that all promoted sides should take this route. It would make sense, for example, for Leeds to allow Simon Grayson the chance to prove his ability at the top-level, but you can bet that any lingering sense of loyalty will wear pretty thin if they were to find themselves in a relegation battle come February (just ask Roberto Di Matteo).

None of this seeks to denigrate the Warnocks, Davies’ and McCarthys of this world. It just seeks to point out that there is a limit to their abilities, and I suspect that a manager could make a very lucrative career from earning  promotion for a team (and a big bonus for himself) and then be willing to leave without rancour.

Always the hero and never the villain seems a pretty good career path to me.

You can find more of Russell’s writings on soccer at The Vancouver Sun.

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9 responses to “Should Promoted Clubs Sack Their Manager?”

  1. Mary Gillmeister says:

    An interesting idea, and you have perhaps a ‘perfect storm’ with managers the calibre of MON and SA available and possibly willing to go for it with a newly promoted club. (Mind you, with O’Neill’s record, he likes to spend-spend-spend, so I don’t see him at Forest!) Having said that, if a new man came in right after promotion, he might try to do ‘too much’ in the transfer market, assuming the money is there to spend, and upset the balance of a side that gelled sufficiently to get promoted in the first place. And how in the world do you sell to the supporters the sacking of the man who just earned you promotion?

    And nor can you wait until September/October, because then it’s ‘not his team’, and that will be his excuse when/if they get a bad start.

    Much as I hated what happened to Chris Hughton, the Newcastle way was the way to go if they were determined to go ‘upmarket’ – he won the Championship, he set a good foundation in the first 15-20 matches, and then the ‘proven premiership manager’ was brought in in advance of the transfer window to consolidate their position and presumably keep them up. Mind you, then he sells their best prospect, and doesn’t have the time to spend the cash. One hopes that the team ethic that got them back will carry them through, so far he’s doing OK with it.

    Ultimately clubs have got to get back to basics – you don’t need to hire the ‘big name’ if you get a decent football mind who can create and build a team. The expectation for that first year has to be to stay in the league, after that, it’s a new plan, and perhaps that is the optimal time to think about making the change.

  2. Mary- Interestingly they discussed the same thing on Monday’s Guardian soccer podcast.

    I think it was Jonathon Wilson who said “Just because you can run corner store, doesn’t mean you can run a supermarket.”

    Which kind of sums up my post in a sentence.

  3. Mary Gillmeister says:

    Ah, I’ll have to check it out, thanks for the tip.

    Good thought-provoking post – I look forward to reading more from you.

  4. John Bladen says:


    I think it’s likely that the promoted clubs will make changes, as that seems to happen quite often (whether immediately, or the knife-in-the-back Hughton style). We can make moral judgments on how “right” that is, but the more important question is, is it actually an improvement?

    Would O’Neill accept an EPL tour with a club of modest means? Keeping in mind his resignation from Villa for what are presumed to be financial reasons, it seems unlikely he’d jump at any promotion club – even one funded by Bernie Ecclestone.

    The problem with this process is, of course, that alleged “proven” EPL managers never seem to be tarred with the failure epithet, even when they fail spectacularly. Meanwhile, lesser known managers get the quick hook if the club doesn’t immediately rocket to top of table.

    I’m not a huge Mark Hughes fan, but take a good long look at his record (with a lesser Man City side) compared to Mancini’s. There are countless examples of that kind of thing, too.

    Sooner or later, even Allardyce and Redknapp will be deemed past their EPL prime. Must we wait until then to bring new managers along?

  5. John- it’s certainly true that promoted clubs often seem quick to fire their manager and I’m not advocating getting rid of untried young managers. But if the guy in charge has failed on previous occassions in the Premier League why should that change next time?

    And, yes, Hughes is a good example-If a club going up put someone like him charge in June staright after promotion instead of January the following year I wonder what the difference in results would be?

  6. Gus Keri says:


    There is a reason why the promoted teams are always at risk of relegation and its not because of their managers.

    If you looks at the managers being fired in October or November, many of them are mangers of team which are not newly promoted.

    To be successful in the EPL, you need good level players which is less likely to get from a team just arrived from the champiuonship.

    And because of the risk of going back so soon, owners don’t like to spend a lot of money to make their team on the same level with the premiership.

    I disagree with just kicking the manager out without giving him the chance to prove himself in the EPL.

    And I disagree with you when you siad:
    “But if the guy in charge has failed on previous occassions in the Premier League why should that change next time?”
    Every situation is different.

  7. Gus- you’re right that situations are different but more often than not promoted teams have limited squads.

    If a manager has failed with such squads in the past I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “thanks, but no thanks” to giving him another crack at it.

  8. Gus Keri says:


    This is only pertaining to certain managers who can’t handle the premiership. But we can’t genertalize it to every promoted team.

    Imagine if teams only used those who have success at the top level. There will be some sort of monopoly and the door will be closed on any hard working manager from the championship.

  9. Thomas says:

    i don’t know the histories of the managers in question, but you can’t ever learn from your mistakes if no one lets you. just because someone has “failed” managing in the epl doesn’t necessarily mean history will repeat itself.

    i couldn’t ride a bike the first time i tried, but thankfully my parents let me stay on and didn’t bring in the kid from across the street to take my place.

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