The firings of Tony Adams by Portsmouth and Big Phil Scolari by Chelsea brought the total number of clubs that have changed managers this season to seven, and the number of managerial changes to eight. That turnover rate seems quite high and quickly cycling managers seldom leads to success.
It would seem that managers deserve a longer chance to get it right, but in the current financial climate, teams can’t afford it.
In Pompey’s case, sacking Adams was simple. His managing made them relegation candidates. They won just two of his sixteen league games in charge, and haven’t won since Nov. 30. They are just one point from relegation, with 24 points in 24 matches.
Adams did a decent job in the transfer window, given his budget. He could not help the Diarra and Defoe sales, but brought in serviceable players, such as Gekas, Hayden Mullins, Pele, Pennant and Belhadj. His club also played decently, barring their chronic defensive brainfarts.
Theoretically, they have one of the clichéd “too good to go down” squads. But, given the club’s perilous finances, Portsmouth could not entrust their fate to Adams’ experienced hands.
Scolari’s departure was similar. Chelsea have played abysmally the past few months, winning just four of 12 matches, never beating a team above 14th in the table. Once the title favorites, Chelsea look poised to battle with Arsenal for the fourth Champions League place.
Part of this was Scolari’s fault. Teams discovered the focal point of Scolari’s tactics overlapping fullbacks. Pinning Cole and Bosingwa back, exposed Chelsea’s mismatched midfield and poor forward creativity. Routinely running up three to five goals initially, they last scored more than two on Nov. 15. Scolari never adjusted his tactics, nor did he display the acumen to do so.
However, not everything revolved around Scolari. He inherited a hodgepodge, lopsided outfit. He never got the funding to overhaul the club, as it required.
Maybe Scolari could right Chelsea eventually, but missing the Champions League would be too costly to offer for experimentation.
A club that has shown the manager patience is Middlesbrough. Southgate took over after his retirement in 2006. He guided Boro to a 12th place finish in his first season and a 13th in his second. The club has been marred by inconsistency. Southgate’s only skill seems to be outfoxing Arsene Wenger.
This season, Middlesbrough are relegation favorites. They have 22 points from 25 matches, winning just five. They haven’t won in the league since Nov. 9. They have mustered just three goals since Nov. 22. Their January acquisition of Marlon King won’t be the tipping point. There’s no reason to argue they will stay in the league.
Steve Gibson likes Gareth Southgate, and has patience with him. But, that patience could cost him heavily, if the club drops to the Championship next season.
Perhaps, clubs lose faith in managers too early. But, in the perilous financial world of topflight football, it’s hard to blame them.