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The Premier League Manager Merry-go-round

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.

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  1. Simon Burke

    November 28, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    I like Fulham but think they will only stay up as others are so bad. I do not rate Dempsey (and sorry i am English) but i have a lot of time for McBride. I also think while Bocanegra works hard that he is a petulant thug with a limited skillset. If Healy can get going it will be great – otherwise they need to rely heavily on ANti Niemi as that defence in front of him is shipping chances like there’s no tomorrow. MLS players I have nothing against but I dont think they have exactly done well at Fulham asides from McBride who has been a great servant to the club.

  2. eplnfl

    November 28, 2007 at 6:32 am

    As far as Fulham goes I believe that they are staying up and it;s a great story they have the chance given that Brian McBride who was counted on to be so much of their scoring for this season and is gone.

    Kartik, does the American players on Fulham prove Lalas point? You can drop MLS players in and they will survive and stay up.

    As an American sports fan new to the game one thing that would help the merry go round in my opinion is to not allow the movement of managers between teams during the season. This would bring some sort of sanity to league. Raiding other teams for managers during the year is not a part of American sports and would in my opinion make sense in the EPL.

  3. Kartik

    November 27, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Fulham could very well go down and Lawrie Sanchez has not done a good job there- I disagree completely. Chris Coleman being sacked is as outrageous now in hindsight as it was at the time. Also, I’m sorry I know as much about American soccer and the player pool we have as the next guy and I have to tell you a team counting on Clint Dempsey and Brian McBride to carry it couldn’t even win an MLS Cup let alone finish in the top half of the Premier League.

  4. Kartik

    November 27, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    This is a very disturbing development. The emphasis of club over country is part of the reason English Football is in the state it is. Only on websites like this and in the British media is England still considered a world power in Football. This is another sad development. These managers I suppose are simply following the money.

  5. sittingontheterraces

    November 27, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    hey wow – two people that agree with me that fulham wont (or shouldnt i should say) be relegated! everyone seems to pick on them for the drop, but they obviously havent been watching them. yes, they’ve conceded all their goals after 80mins. but their goal differential is light years ahead of the teams at the bottom. and although its only three points, GD is more telling in my opinion. So unless they really crap the bed, LS wont lose his job.

    And i think Reading are a candidate for the drop that no one is mentioning. They’ve been quite poor, especially on the road. Fulham cant win matches away, but they arent losing 7-4 at pompey or 3-1 at fulham. I dont think they will go down, but it’ll be close. If they do, Coppell wont be fired but he’ll probably choose to leave for another prem team.

    And as I wrote several posts ago, it’ll be Derby, Wigan, and Boro going down; with Bolton barely surviving. Southgate is totally out.

  6. MJ

    November 27, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    I completely agree about Fulham, there’s no chance at all that they’re going down (they’re playing well even without Brian McBride and will be boosted by his return as well Jimmy Bullard’s return in about three weeks’ time). If it wasn’t for not being able to hold late game leads, Fulham would be in the top 10. Lawrie Sanchez’s job isn’t under threat there; he’s done a good job. I’m not sure what “poor form” you’re talking about; Fulham have lost just once in their last five matches and only three times in their last 11 games. In the Premier League, mediocrity will get you around the 10th place mark and for Fulham, that wouldn’t be bad at all.

    Same goes for Roy Keane, he isn’t going anywhere even if Sunderland do get relegated (which I don’t think they will). The job he did last year in running away with the Championship after their extremely poor start without him as manager has earned him at least another year after this.

    Steve Coppell’s job is safe as well because Reading are simply too talented to go down and they finished in the top 10 last season. A 15th place finish or so this season and the same next season and then we can talk about his job security, but he’s fine for now.

    Gary Megson is simply not a Premiership-quality manager and he’s proven that in the past. Their win over the weekend against United was fine, but let’s not get carried away: The Red Devils were playing without Rooney and Ronaldo and are a much different team without them, and the game was at Bolton. No one scores goals for Bolton other than Anelka and if he leaves in January, kiss their chances of staying up goodbye.

    Wigan are doomed, as you said, but it’s not because of Steve Bruce. He’s a quality manager who would have had more success over his career if he had better players and talent on his teams. Wigan have no one on their roster that would start for any of the top 10 teams in the Premiership right now; they’re simply an awful side and it’s a big step down for Bruce to go to Wigan from Birmingham.

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