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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