Birmingham City looks set to name Alex McLeish as their new manager in the morning. While this is a huge coup for the brummies, it give us a good indication of the money and allure that the Premier League has over international football.
After all, and no offense to Birmingham City, but McLeish did give us his position as manager of his country to take the job at St Andrews. And prior to ten to fifteen years ago, international football was a lot more respected than it is today.
In the Premiership manager merry-go-round this season, we’ve seen 6 out of the 20 clubs in the league make changes (Chelsea, Wigan, Derby, Birmingham, Bolton and Spurs). That’s 30% of the clubs changing their managers.
And because Derby sacked Billy Davies, when will the patience run out for the other managers who are near the foot of the table? Gareth Southgate at Middlesbrough and Sam Allardyce at Newcastle.
One name that hasn’t mentioned too often in relegation talk is Roy Keane at Sunderland. While the club has been playing a lot like Watford from last year (coming close to getting wins and draws but always falling at the last hurdle — the game against Everton excepted), you have to take a long look at Roy Keane and give him the chance of getting things right in the January transfer window. Otherwise, it’ll be time for him to go based on the current trend of chopping managers.
Don’t leave out Reading’s Steve Coppell and Fulham’s Lawrie Sanchez from the witch hunt list (as Arsene Wenger calls it). Both Reading and Fulham are only three points above third from bottom Sunderland.
There’s so much more money on the table this season that chairmen of Premier League clubs are getting greedy and fighting for Premiership survival.
That said, I can sympathize with all of the clubs that have sacked managers. The chairmen made the mistakes of hiring Sammy Lee and Chris Hutchings — and the other managers had lost their skill in getting the best out of players (such as Jose Mourinho, Martin Jol and Billy Davies).
Where chairmen of Premier League clubs need to do a better job is hiring the right managers for the clubs. Alex McLeish, I believe, will do a better job than Steve Bruce. Gary Megson will battle Bolton out of the relegation zone to safety but isn’t a good longterm bet. Avram Grant is boring compared to Jose Mourinho, but his team has a new lease of life without Jose. And Juande Ramos, given time, will adapt to the English game and will be a great opportunity for Spurs.
Clubs that need to be careful are Derby (Paul Ince is not a Premiership manager; let him earn some plaudits in the Championship first), Wigan (they’re doomed under Steve Bruce), Middlesbrough (a hopeless cause under Southgate but who would they bring in instead — a returning Steve McClaren perhaps?) and Newcastle (I believe Allardyce can turn it around, but will the fans and chairman be patient enough?).
Fulham, despite their poor form, are playing some good football and are creating chances. They’ll be okay.
Reading is another story entirely. Their back four still looks extremely leaky and they could really have a fight on their hands to stay up unless Coppell buys well in the transfer window.