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Patience Pays Off At Anfield But Will Other Contenders Follow Suit?

liverpool crest Patience Pays Off At Anfield But Will Other Contenders Follow Suit?

Here’s an interesting little fact for you: the two longest serving managers in Premier League history also happen to be in charge of the two most successful teams in Premier League history. So why is it then that fans and chairmen are so quick to jump on the back of a struggling manager and demand change?

This weekend saw a Liverpool side, missing its captain and shorn of form and confidence, defeat rivals and champions Manchester United 2-0, to relieve the pressure on Red’s boss Rafael Benitez. But should Benitez have even been under such pressure to begin with? After all, Liverpool are a far tougher prospect now than they were when he took over five years ago.

Last season they finished in their best position since 2002, with their highest points tally since the Premier League began and yet four defeats in a row (two League, two European) were enough to put their manager’s neck very much on the line.

Fortunately for Benitez (and Liverpool fans, if he goes on to turn their season around), the pressure on the Spaniard has now been alleviated and in one fell swoop, Liverpool’s title odds fell from 18.0 to 12.0.

The simple fact is, had the club’s American owners panicked and had a new manager take over at Anfield, Liverpool’s prospects of success would have been seriously hampered in the short term, with no guarantee of silverware any further down the line.

It takes time to stamp a mark on a football club and very rarely does a change in manager lead to instant success. Another fact for you – only one man in Premier League history has won the title in his first season in charge and that was the self proclaimed ‘Special One’, who also enjoyed the advantage of a sizeable transfer budget.

So why is it then that so many clubs see chopping and changing as the way forward? It certainly didn’t help Newcastle United, whose fans saw four different men try and fail to keep the Magpies in the Premier League last season. It also hasn’t helped Tottenham, who took a backwards step after sacking their manager of three years, Martin Jol in 2007. Indeed, were it not for Harry Redknapp, they too may have been playing Championship football this season.

So next time you call for your manager’s head, sit back, take stock and ask yourself if hiring a new man really is the best way to make progress or if a little patience is all that is needed.

Here’s an interesting little fact for you: the two longest serving managers in Premier League history also happen to be in charge of the two most successful teams in Premier League history. So why is it then that fans and chairmen are so quick to jump on the back of a struggling manager and demand change?

This weekend saw a Liverpool side, missing its captain and shorn of form and confidence, defeat rivals and champions Manchester United 2-0, to relieve the pressure on Reds’ boss Rafael Benitez. But should Benitez have even been under such pressure to begin with? After all, Liverpool are a far tougher prospect now than they were when he took over five years ago.

Last season they finished in their best position since 2002, with their highest points tally since the Premier League began and yet four defeats in a row (two League, two European) were enough to put their manager’s neck very much on the line.

Fortunately for Benitez (and Liverpool fans, if he goes on to turn their season around), the pressure on the Spaniard has now been alleviated and in one fell swoop, Liverpool’s Premier League title betting odds fell from 18.0 to 12.0.

The simple fact is, had the club’s American owners panicked and had a new manager taken over at Anfield, Liverpool’s prospects of success would have been seriously hampered in the short term, with no guarantee of silverware any further down the line.

It takes time to stamp a mark on a football club and very rarely does a change in manager lead to instant success. Another fact for you: only one man in Premier League history has won the title in his first season in charge and that was the self proclaimed ‘Special One’, who also enjoyed the advantage of a sizeable transfer budget.

So why is it then that so many clubs see chopping and changing as the way forward? It certainly didn’t help Newcastle United, whose fans saw four different men try and fail to keep the Magpies in the Premier League last season. It also hasn’t helped Tottenham, who took a backwards step after sacking their manager of three years, Martin Jol in 2007. Indeed, were it not for Harry Redknapp, they too may have been playing Championship football this season.

So next time you call for your manager’s head, sit back, take stock and ask yourself if hiring a new man really is the best way to make progress or if a little patience is all that is needed.

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8 Responses to Patience Pays Off At Anfield But Will Other Contenders Follow Suit?

  1. YourMom says:

    You make a fine point about patience, but I put forth Luiz Felipe Scolari being replaced by Guus Hiddink as the counter point.

    With Benitez it is prudent to take the long view. He has proven his worth as a tactician, but shown to be lacking in man management skills. In a “sprint” like a two legged Champions League tie, his strengths are a benefit. In a “marathon” like the Premier League, his weaknesses are accentuated.

    Sacking him now would only cause short term turmoil like you say, but at the end of the season, it may be over for him.

  2. Eric says:

    YourMom, you make some good points re Scolari vs Hiddink, but I will counter that the huge transfer budget that Chelsea enjoys with 5 capitans of their respective national sides makes it easier than being in a situation where you get little backing from the board like Benitez gets.

  3. Jorge Curioso says:

    Isn’t the logic here backwards? The teams that have been the most successful have the longest-serving managers because the managers have been very good, not because keeping managers around longer makes them or the team better.

    It’s no surprise that the best times have the longest managerial tenures. There’s no reason to fire managers that are doing well.

    Hiddink’s turnaround of Chelsea and Rednapp’s saving of Tottenham from relegation last year both point to the importance of changing managers quickly when it’s needed.

    As for Liverpool being better under Benitez, the trophy cabinet says otherwise. Houllier won more trophies in his five years than has Benitez in his five, even while the latter has spent more than United. Indeed, Benitez’ only trophies came in the first two years, while he still had the core of Houllier’s squad.

    In addition, Liverpool haven’t won a thing in three years, while United have won eight trophies in that time.

    Sure, Liverpool finished second last year, but they were out of it by Februrary, tanked early in both domestic cups, went out in the quarters of the CL, and played 11 fewer matches than United and Chelsea.

    Benitez should have been fired years ago.

  4. LI Matt says:

    Last season, the fifth-longest-serving manager in the PL was Gareth Southgate.

    QED.

  5. Gaz says:

    You can throw up counter-examples all you want – the basic premise is so obviously true it’s painful.

    A team will do better with one manager constant over a three year period than with three different managers over a three year period.

    I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

    The only reason managers get sacked so often is because owners need some sort of scapegoat for the team’s performance. Let’s be honest here – managers are important but teams lose games for other reasons too. They are not the be-all-end-all for a teams performance (on a side note, I think it’s hilarious to see some of them act as if they are important during a game – waving their arms around and making stupid hand signals).

    • Jorge Curioso says:

      No, a team will do better with on *good* manager over three years than three *bad* managers.

      Conversely, a team will do better with three *good* managers over three years than one *bad* manager.

      The “basic premise” is “obviously true” only in your mind. The plethora of “counter-examples” should clue you in to that.

  6. Gaz says:

    See I’d disagree – one bad manager will still have more stabilty and will accomplish more than three good managers that don’t have time to put a stamp on the team.

  7. Gaz says:

    I’m not pretending to be an expert here – sorry if it came off that way, Jorge. It really just seems like common sense to me, though.

    You can be as good of a manager as a Sir Alex – but if you only have a year to play with the team, what good does it do? You’ve barely had a chance to buy any new players, you couldn’t have changed the culture that much, and development hasn’t even been touched.

    In a year, a bad manager can do as much good as a good one (change tactics and positions and / or switch training modes up).

    Give someone three years, however, and they can make some real impact.

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