Updated: Jan 25, 2021
Why after a short run of results should a manager always get sacked?
You can argue that football is a results business, which every football fan will agree on. But, should managers be given the opportunity to turn it around? They’ve been seen as the best person for the job when they sign the contract, so why at the first downturn in results are they replaced?
Maybe I have seen my fair share of this being a Chelsea fan, the longest serving Chelsea manager I’ve seen in my life time is Claudio Ranieri. He was in the job for 3 years and 8 months. He had a great Chelsea team and oversaw the transition of the old guard that was there, Marcel Desaiily, Frank Lebeouf and Dennis Wise for example, and bought in the spine of the next generation of Chelsea players. He made John Terry captain, he spent £11m of pre-Abramovich money on a young player called Frank Lampard and it’s a little known fact that he was behind the deal to bring in Petr Cech and Arjen Robben too. Those deals were signed before he was sacked less than 12 months after Abramovich bought the club, finishing second to the ‘Invincibles’ Arsenal.
In the 30 years I’ve been on this planet, we’ve had 19 managers who have managed more than 10 matches. So on average they get about 19 months to make their mark on the team and create a squad in their identity. Impossible.
Using the law of averages, it seems Frank Lampard should be looking for a new job. He’s been in the job for 18 months and 9 days at the time of writing (23/01/2020).
Let me point you in the right direction of 2 great examples, Jurgen Klopp as a recent one and possibly one of the greatest managers of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Jurgen Klopp took over a Liverpool side 2 years before finished second to a very good Man City team, they ‘slipped’ at the final hurdle if you remember?
The year after they got left behind and finished 6th, still not a bad finish. Rodgers was sacked in October 2015 with Liverpool sat in 13th in the Premier League. He made the choice not to bring anybody in during the January transfer window as he wanted to look at the team more to understand what he needed. Don’t forget this was the season when they lost Steven Gerrard. Love him or hate him, he’d still take some replacing when he’s been the first name on the team sheet for the last 17 years. He stabilised the ship and they finished 8th in the Premier League.
Klopp then started to build the team in his own shape, his identity, his ‘heavy metal football’.
He bought in Gini Wijnaldum, Sadio Mané and Loris Karius (least said about the last one, the better I think!).
They then finished the 16/17 season 4th in the Premier League but conceded the 2nd most goals (42) in the top 6 with Arsenal conceding 44.
He then spent £168m after clearing out the deadwood (£185m) to bring in the likes of Mo Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and Andy Robertson. All players that Klopp had identified would do what he needed. Close down from the front, but have the ability to get forward. Salah has transformed into one of the top 20 players in the world under Klopp, maybe he was another which wasn’t given enough time at Chelsea? The lost in the Champions League final to a good Real Madrid side who made it a hat-trick of wins, but they were largely helped by Karius seeming to leave his hands in the changing rooms.
Identifying the final area to be improved, he bought in Alisson, discarding Karius after that Champions League performance.
The next season they finished with 97 points in second, a tally that would have won the league in all but one of the 27 Premier League seasons to that point. The only time the wouldn’t have won the league is when Man City managed to crack the 100 points mark. However, they did go on to lift the Champions League trophy against Tottenham.
With his squad complete in his eyes, he cleared out those who could no longer do what he needed and brought in Harvey Elliot for the future. They hit the ground running and never looked like slowing down for everybody else around them to be anywhere near them.
Klopp was given the time to build a team in his image and beliefs, and this time and belief in him from the club has yielded results and trophies that Liverpool fans have only been able to live off as the past. They are now one of the 2 best teams in England.
There have been some head scratching moments from Klopp, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. There was the signing of the earlier mentioned Karius, Steven Caulker and some frustrating results against rival teams, but it just proves it doesn’t happen overnight, you must have patience and belief in the long term project.
Sir Alex Ferguson
What more can you say about the man that made Manchester United THE dominant force over a sustained period of 27 years?
I wont run you through every year of his Man United career, but I’ll sum it up like this:
13 Premier League titles
5 FA Cups
2 Champions Leagues
4 Manager of the Year awards
28 Manager of the Month awards
Who can forget the 1999 treble? They were a dominant force, they could control any game they wanted, against any opposition it seemed.
He took over in November 1986 with Man United in 21st in the League. He changed the atmosphere and ideas at the club, told the players to get fitter, stop drinking and smoking and to focus on where they should be. In that season they finished 11th.
For the 1989–90 season, Ferguson boosted his squad by paying large sums of money for midfielders Neil Webb, Mike Phelan, and Paul Ince, as well as defender Gary Pallister and winger Danny Wallace. The season began well with a 4–1 win over defending champions Arsenal on the opening day, but United's league form quickly turned south. In September, United suffered a humiliating 5–1 away defeat against noisey neighbours Manchester City.
Following this and an early season run of six defeats and two draws in eight games, a banner declaring, "Three years of excuses and it's still crap ... ta-ra Fergie." was displayed at Old Trafford, and many journalists and supporters called for Ferguson to be sacked. Ferguson later described December 1989 as "the darkest period he had ever suffered in the game", as United ended the decade just outside the relegation zone.
Following a run of seven games without a win, Manchester United were drawn away to Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup. Forest were performing well that season and were in the process of winning the League Cup for the second season running, and it was expected that United would lose the match and Ferguson would consequently be sacked, but United won the game 1–0 due to a Mark Robins goal and eventually reached the final. This cup win is often cited as the match that saved Ferguson's Old Trafford career.
Ferguson proved time after time that he had the ability to read the situations of not only individual players, but the whole club, famously saying ‘no player is bigger than Manchester United‘.
He showed this time and time again, keeping things fresh in his staff, McClaren, Quieroz, Phelan for a few examples, to selling David Beckham in what was still considered a shock after the kicking of the boot incident. Beckham at that time was the biggest name in football, and even years after retiring is still a massive name. He still earns more weekly from appearing on a legends edition of Fifa 21 than he ever earned at Manchester United!
He took those hard decisions and stood by them to rebuild his squad time and time again to win multiple Premier Leagues and cups. He sold Ruud Van Nistelrooy, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo as 3 examples. All amazing players at Manchester United. But he knew when the time was right. Just noticed all of those examples were sold to Real Madrid, he must have Florentine Perez saved in his favourites by now!
Van Nistelrooy did well at Madrid, and Beckham was part of the Galactico’s, but Ronaldo just jumped to another level at Madrid and is still going now at Juventus. An unbelievable player that people said he was mad to have paid £12m for. Looks like a pretty shrewd deal in hindsight doesn’t it!
Following on from Ronaldo, he also knew when to pick a player up, he bought Van Persie from rivals Arsenal and he carried Man United to the title that season, he picked up a young Wayne Rooney and pushed him to be England and Man Uniteds record goal scorer.
Similar to Klopp though, it wasn’t all smiles, hugs and naming stands after Sir Alex. There was bad results, as we mentioned earlier, its well thought Mark Robins saved his career, and there was questionable signings, Juan Sebastian Veron, who can forget Bebe? And Eric Djemba-Djemba, so good they named him twice...apparently!
This all brings me back round to Frank Lampard. To say he is favourite for the sack next is just absurd but it seems the Chelsea way. We get rid of managers too soon, Ancellotti is a prime example, won the league and FA cup, then finished second, but it wasn’t deemed good enough. Ranieri took Leciester City to the title.
Lampard took a Chelsea team reeling from the loss of Eden Hazard who had been one of, if not THE best player at Chelsea for the last 8 years. He brought through a lot of younger players which Chelsea fans have been crying out for, and still managed to finish in a Champions League spot with a transfer ban. No easy task and to be honest, not one that I imagine Mourinho or Guardiola could do. They buy players who are the finished article.
He’s been given over £200m to spend and I firmly believe he has spent it well. He‘s brought in talented young players, but also a shrewd move bringing in Thiago Silva as that old head to put his foot on the ball and calm things down. He is showing players like Zouma these tricks of the trade.
These players are being faced with the same expectations that they should hit the ground running, it’s difficult to play in the Premier League, to get used to the physicality and the pace of the league, thinking of Werner and Havertz in particular as a big fan of the Bundesliga, its a completely different league to watch, let alone play in. It’s a more technical league, think of ‘German Engineering’ and thats how you could sum up the Bundesliga.
Many Chelsea fans were expecting and hoping that Lampard would transform Chelsea, but they’ve been taken into the mindset of the Abramovich era that it should happen straight away. It can’t happen that quickly. These players are getting used to the league, to men’s football rather than playing against players of their own age, and to the demands of a new manager.
Comparing Lampard ‘s Chelsea career against Klopp’s and expecting them to be on the same level is ridiculous. For a start he’s only in his second season as Chelsea manager vs Klopp’s 6th.
Lampard is on his first dip in results as Chelsea Manager and should be given the chance to turn it around and get his philosophy drilled into this squad. It’s difficult to do when you’re telling players ideas when you know and they know they won’t be there next season. They don’t fit in but you have to use what you’ve got. The only failing this year was of the club not to get rid of some of the deadwood or spares that Chelsea have. Thinking of Alonso, Drinkwater, Moses as easy examples.
The team still isn’t 100% in Lampards image, there’s still parts of Antonio Conte and Maurzzio Sarri there. Conte did well but Sarri seemed to grind us to a halt, only to be carried to the Europa League by one of Hazards best seasons. There will be more frustrating times to come and the club will undoubtedly need to spend more and clear out deadwood to improve the team, but the club need to decide what they want to be.
Do they want to be this club that no manager wants to take charge of because their reputation will be in tatters and they’ll be looking for a job 18 months later?
Or do they want to pursue a project with Lampard? They always say it is a project, and now is the time to prove it.
Backing Lampard 50% doesn’t do anybody any favours. Spending £200m and expecting instant results whilst still carrying deadwood isn’t a fair reflection on Lampard’s tenure.
Lampard is trying to develop the spine of his side, to replicate spine of the title winning sides. Cech, Terry, Lampard, Drogba.
We now have Mendy in goal, a very good goalkeeper, certainly an improvement on Kepa!
Zouma and Silva in defence, Zouma is a good defender who was set back in his career by the awul knee injury against Man United. He’s now learning from Silva rather than Terry.
Mount in midfield. A young midfielder gaining experience by the game, who Lampard is trying to model in his own image.
Werner up front. A young, pacy striker currently struggling with the physical aspect of the English game, but so was Drogba in his first season, a lot of Chelsea fans had written him off due to his diving and periods without a goal. Where would we be now if we had sold the man that won the Champions League for us? Who put the crown of the Premier League on his head and became a ‘King of Stamford Bridge’ alongside Peter Osgood.
These players can all take themselves up a level, not only in terms of performance but being a leader on and off the pitch .
Lampard is also young and shows a certain naivety in his managerial career but is learning as he goes along. We should have expected these results when we take a manager who is only 1 year old in terms of experience. The team is just going through growing pains that we all do as kids.
The idea is there, the desire is there, but the club and the fans need to stick by him and the team we have, at all times.
Many of the younger and newer Chelsea fans have only known instant success. The social media fans would fire every manager after every bad result and no player is ever allowed a bad game. But sacking Lampard would knock Chelsea back to square one after coming down this road for 18 months.
It does hurt to lose silly games and to lose to rivals but we don’t need the toxicity in the fanbase to create this unnecessary pressure on Lampard.
Hopefully these two can remain friends and more importantly, colleagues.