There’s a difference between Alex McLeish’s bizarre exit from Nottingham Forest and the average managerial departure.
In McLeish’s case, he seemed as keen to go as Forest were to lose him. Something in the past 40-odd days – broken promises, a difference of opinion or perhaps the shambles concerning George Boyd – pushed him to the point where leaving made more sense than sticking around. I’m guessing the decision was basically his.
Elsewhere in the Championship, this season has been a bloodbath. Management’s always been a fragile profession and only a select few coaches have any job security but the atmosphere in the English leagues is getting out of hand: cut-throat, desperate and seriously impulsive.
The demise of McLeish at Forest is no more ridiculous than that of Sean O’Driscoll before him. That’s twice in less than two months that Forest’s owners have left us shaking our heads. But they’re not the only bunch with itchy trigger fingers. I’ve lost track of the number of sackings we’ve seen in the Championship.
Some would call it the price of under-achievement but too many coaches fall foul of unrealistic expectations or promises that aren’t met. I’d love to know what the average life-expectancy (in professional terms) of a Football League gaffer is. We’re just about at the point where completing one full season with the same club is breaking the mould.
I blame that on the lure of the dream ticket offered by promotion to the Premier League. It’s such a massive carrot and so lucrative that owners are becoming blinded to the reality of league football.
I know it’s hard to accept this but only three teams from 24 can go up in any one season and only three can go down. To put that another way, 18 clubs are going to play 46 games and find themselves in no better or worse situation. You can show ambition, you can invest, you can thrown the kitchen sink at your division but you can’t always stop three sides from being better than you.
I sometimes wonder if that fact even registers any more. Given that promotion at the first time of asking is far from guaranteed, doesn’t it make sense to give a coach at least a full term if not two to have a proper go and a fair crack of the whip?
Aside from anything else, I dread to think how many millions of pounds are wasted each year in paying up the contracts held by sacked managers. McLeish must have walked away with a fair few quid for 40 days’ work, money which Forest could have ploughed into his squad instead.
Those who go back further than me will say it’s always been this way; that Brian Clough lasted for only 44 days at Leeds. I know that’s true. But I’ve never felt such a mood of desperation when it comes to reaching the Premier League.
Very few Championship clubs see consolidation as a worthwhile objective any more or consider it to be anything other than a bit of a failure. I was disappointed when Leeds finished seventh in 2011 but I still felt that they’d had a good season. The reason I criticised them so heavily last season was because they were clearly going backwards.
But when I see the managerial merry-go-round, I think back to Alex Ferguson and the moment when Manchester United almost sacked him. He kept his job and he’s gone on to be one of the best British managers of all time. It’s not only him. Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Don Revie – would any of these men have had a chance in the modern era? Or would Revie have been told that finishing second in the league and losing the FA Cup final in the same season just wasn’t quite enough for us, thanks?
Clubs who appoint managers expecting overnight miracles really do need to get a grip.
Morison good for debut goal
Where to start with Wolves against Leeds? One team who struggle away from home against another team who are struggling full stop.
On the face of it you’d think that 27/20 about a home win at Molineux is a generous price but I don’t see how anyone can have confidence in Wolves. They’re a complete mess at the moment and Leeds’ run of away defeats in the league has to end eventually. So why not tomorrow, at 17/10 with Sportingbet?
From reading the papers this week, you can sense some urgency in both camps and I can see the game being very open and quite feisty from the start. I’ll be taking 2/1 about the first half producing more than 1.5 goals and 6/5 about Leeds scoring once or more before the break.
United should have Steve Morison, pictured, leading the line and he’s the sort of big, combative character you want when the chips are down in the Championship. I’m not too fussed with a price of 6/1 about him scoring first but 2/1 about him striking any time on his debut is a bit of a steal.
The same goes for Wolves’ Bakary Sako – also 2/1 to score any time. For a full range of odds and markets for Wolves v Leeds, go to www.sportingbet.com or download the app.