Since the 2011-12 season ended, the managerial merry go round in the Premier League has been more of a spinning top than a relaxing ride. Dalglish out, Rodgers in; Hodgson out, Clarke in; McLeish out, Lambert in; Di Matteo in for two more years; Redknapp out; Rodgers out, Laudrup in; Lambert out, Hughton in.
Even with all of those changes, we still have to wait to see who Tottenham Hotspur will bring in to replace Redknapp. If it’s David Moyes, the managerial merry go round could turn into a tornado, with the opening at Everton potentially causing another domino effect of managerial changes. If it’s Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham, it’s worth another shot for the Portugese manager.
No matter what happens, we should take a minute to reflect and realize that the managerial changes that have taken place thus far has significantly raised the level of competence throughout the league. Dalglish leaving Liverpool was a good move by Fenway Sports Group. The Scot seemed unable to manage at the highest level. And, at times, looked like he didn’t have the desire. Losing Alex McLeish was also a godsend for Premier League football. His dire tactics deserve to be relegated to lower league football. Even losing Redknapp is a boost for the Premier League. Outside of knowing how to spend money, the man is hardly a tactical genius. He inspires teams, but that can only last for so long.
The move by Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool will make the Reds a much stronger opponent, over time. Rodgers’s replacement, Michael Laudrup — who was named this morning as the new Swans boss — will be a welcome addition of a man schooled in Spanish football. Paul Lambert moving up the ladder to Villa Park will undoubtedly make Aston Villa a stronger squad, bringing back the attacking flair, but also giving them several different styles of playing instead of the arcane one under McLeish. Lambert’s replacement at Norwich is Chris Hughton, a well-respected manager who laid the foundation at Newcastle United, and who deserves another crack at a top managerial job.
You go down the list and it’s class all the way through. I would argue that this is the strongest 20 Premier League managers ever in the top flight. In the past, there have always been a few football managers whose quality was suspect. But the current 20 Premier League managers are a different breed. Even the return of Sam Allardyce (West Ham) as well as the top flight newbies Brian McDermott (Reading) and Nigel Adkins (Southampton) adds a lot of weight to the league, particularly in the way that McDermott and Adkins teams play their attractive, attack-minded football. Allardyce, love or hate him, delivers results.
With Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea has gone with a practical approach instead of splashing the cash on a unproven (at least, in England) foreign football manager. Di Matteo is a welcome addition to the permanent Premier League football manager status.
Returning to the subject of Redknapp for a minute, his departure from Tottenham Hotspur is a strange one in that Redknapp’s future options are quite limited. He’s the type of manager that would need to go to a club with a chairman who was willing to spend a lot of money in the transfer window. And those clubs don’t have any openings at the moment. It may be several months before Redknapp gets a top flight job in England again. I’m sure several Championship sides would love to sign him as a manager, but I don’t see Redknapp stepping down a level. Worryingly for Redknapp, he’s the type of manager who will slowly be phased out. Premier League clubs are looking for more than managers who know how to spend. They’re seeking out tacticians who can also find the diamond in the rough in the transfer market — unless you’re Manchester City with money to burn, but even then, they’re looking for tactically-minded managers.
It looks like the managerial merry go round is slowly coming to a stop. After Laudrup’s appointment, we should expect to see a new manager unveiled at White Hart Lane. And then the ride will end until the end of the year, at least. It’s been a crazy month of managers being wined-and-dined in hopes of clubs snatching them away. But now it’s time for the managers to sink their teeth into finding some transfer signings before the summer transfer window opens up, and the madness begins all over again.