Phelan departure is no surprise
With Swansea City, under new management, all set to win at Crystal Palace last night to push Hull City to the bottom of the league, the Hull owners pulled the trigger and brought an end to Micky Phelan’s time at the KCOM Stadium.
There was always a suggestion that there was a reluctance to give him the job in the first place. He took over as caretaker when Steve Bruce walked in the summer but it took until mid-October before Phelan (pictured) became the fully fledged head coach. It came within 24 hours of Steve Bruce going into Aston Villa.
Since getting the job permanently, Hull have won just one of their 13 Premier League games; that was a 2-1 home win against Southampton at the start of November. They’ve since won only three more points in nine games.
That’s five points less than Swansea in the same period and seven points less than Sunderland. Only Crystal Palace, who have won just five points, have been worse during this period.
Apart from a late rush in August, Phelan didn’t even have a transfer window to help shape his squad but that doesn’t seem to bother clubs now as we saw with Bob Bradley who was recently fired at Swansea after only 11 games. That bizarre appointment looked doomed from the start to be honest, even more so than Phelan’s, but it is just how things are now in football.
It’s both cruel and unfair on Micky. Stoke boss Mark Hughes, a former team mate at Manchester United, spoke very highly of him this morning but said it is how the Premier League is now because of the money. I’d suggest it is not just the Premier League where triggers are pressed to remove managers far too quickly.
The managerial merry-go-round has become something of an obsession of mine. It’s probably due to the fact that it is very much different than the days when I started watching football when a change of management was rare, when the likes of Harry Potts, Matt Busby, Bill Nicholson stayed at clubs for years.
For a while this season it was all quiet. I reported in September that there hadn’t been a single change in either the Premier or Football Leagues since the start of the season. That’s no longer the case. No fewer than 24 clubs have now made changes after Swansea kicked things off with the sacking of Francesco Guidolin.
That list only includes three Premier League clubs – Swansea, Hull and Crystal Palace – but only half of the clubs in the top flight are currently employing the same manager they ended last season with. Leicester might have had something to say about that. Their winning of the Premier League certainly helped prompt big changes at some of the big clubs which, for instance, saw a return to the Premier League for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
Sean Dyche has now been Burnley manager for four years and a couple of months. His first few months were very much up and down with one horrible down period in the spring of 2013. Some fans were calling for his head and had we had a board of directors similar to some other clubs then he might just have gone and we’d have been looking for another manager.
But our board are fast becoming a rarity in football. We tend to stick with our managers and we let them get on and manage, in the main, with little interference. I suppose then, if they do fail, they can have no complaints when the axe falls on them.
It’s not like that everywhere and the most ridiculous statistic is that 52 of the current 92 clubs changed manager at least one last season, some twice, while clubs such as Derby and Leyton Orient have wielded the axe on three occasions.
It can only take a few bad results now to get a reaction from supporters and quite often boards will act. Going back 21 years to Burnley, there is no doubt Jimmy Mullen was on his last legs as manager. But it was the infamous 3:33 protest at a home game against Crewe that saw him go when chairman Frank Teasdale and his board needed to deflect the criticism away from their handling of the club.
Of course, you have more chance of keeping your job the further up the league you go. Three of the Premier League’s bottom four have made changes this season and it’s the same in the Championship while in League One there have been changes at six of the bottom eight.
It’s not only the case. Watford started the 2014/15 season with Giuseppe Sannino in charge. By October, he’d gone and had been followed by Oscar Garcia and then Billy McKinlay (pictured) who was sacked after just eight days in the job. Manager number four was Slavisa Jokanovic. He steadied the ship and got them promoted only to be dispensed with before the Premier League fixtures were announced.
There isn’t right way or a wrong way but it is noticeable that we had our worst ever period in the 1980s when we employed all of Brian Miller, Frank Casper, John Bond, John Benson, Martin Buchan and Tommy Cavanagh. Brian was sacked in January 1983 and returned three and a half years and five managers later.
Once Mullen had gone in 1995 there was Adrian Heath and Chris Waddle before Stan Ternent arrived to eventually, with help from Barry Kilby, steady the ship.
Will some of these trigger happy clubs ever change? I doubt it. Only seven of them still have the same manager as they had when Dyche walked into Burnley and three of those seven had been appointed in the five weeks previous.
Already, in 2017, Notts County, Gillingham and Hull have sacked their managers while Swansea have brought in Paul Clement. Will it reach a total of 52 again this year? It wouldn’t be a surprise.Share this page :