Wednesday May 22, 2013 at 6:05pm
Some players might recall the BBC TV show Fantasy Football League. A vehicle for Frank Skinner and David Baddiel it began with the phrase, “who would want to be a football manager?” before the two stars put their hands up.
The show as a series ended in 1996 and so much has happened since to alter football management it is possible that not even the two comedians would fancy a go at it anymore.
The managerial departures in the Premier League in the last fortnight mean that a staggering 56 clubs have changed manager since the start of the season. Even more surprisingly, perhaps, is the fact that in the Premier League Alan Pardew is the second longest serving manager currently in his post. The fifth is Brendan Rodgers and he has been at Liverpool for less than a year.
Granted, those figures are perhaps skewed by the fact that people like David Moyes and Tony Pulis, who have been at their clubs for a long time, have left along with perhaps the greatest of them all, Sir Alex, but it is still quite incredible.
Jose Mourinho is leaving Real Madrid and highly likely to end at Chelsea, but what is perhaps less well known is that his three year tenure at Real makes him the longest serving boss in the La Liga, and our game appears to be heading the same way.
We have written before on this blog about the ridiculous nature of the comings and goings in the Championship where Blackburn have got through Managers in some cases quicker than it takes for of our seasons at Leisure Leagues to finish. Michael Appleton is said to be in line for the England under-21 job if Stuart Pearce steps down in the summer but he found himself employed at three clubs during the last season, walking out on two and being sacked by the aforementioned Blackburn Rovers board (who knows what he has done to get that chance apart from work with current England boss Roy Hodgson and Technical Director Dan Ashworth?) Appleton does seem to be indicative of the way the game is going, though. Ambitious young coaches, who move on from one “project” to the next.
Does all this mean, then, that the days of Managers and coaches staying in their posts for decades are over? Possibly. It is extremely difficult to see David Moyes remaining at Old Trafford for anywhere near as long as Sir Alex did and even his own replacement at Goodison lasting a decade on Merseyside.
Part of this is the way management is changing. The idea of a Brian Clough or a Fergie type figure looming large with control over everything at the club from top to bottom appears in these times to be outdated. Many Managers don’t have total say over transfers, these days, with Chief Execs and Technical Directors and the like having ever widening briefs. The modern manager understands this and is perhaps less inclined to spend his time doing deals anyway.
The fans too, in the age of phone-ins and social media giving more immediate opinions than ever before, are less inclined to back the boss through bad times and the phrase “taken the club as far as he can” is oft repeated. Crowd unrest makes Chairmen twitchy and before you know where you are, the boss has his p45.
There is, of course, once club that currently stands alone and bucks this trend. And Tony Pulis’ departure from Stoke this week means that every other club in the 92 in the Premier and Football Leagues has changed its manager since Arsenal last won a trophy…except Arsenal.
There is never any shortage of takers for the vacancies though, so perhaps the answer to the question “who would want to be a football manager” is… just about everybody.
Friday May 17, 2013 at 4:36pm
The sight of Manchester United’s players being presented with a league trophy after their last home game of the season has become a familiar one over the years. The scenes after their win over Swansea last weekend marked the 13th time United have won the Premier League.
Of course, this particular triumph was made all the more poignant by the fact that in the run up to the game Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who had presided over so many great nights and so much silverware was finally calling it a day.
Here is a man who – whether they support United or not – has been part of all football fans lives for getting on for thirty years. Since taking over at Old Trafford on November 6th 1986 he has presided over an incredible level of success,
It is easy to forget that, in these days when Manchester United think second is a failure, that before they won the first ever Premier League in 1992/93, they hadn’t won the first division title since 1967. They had even been relegated in 1973/74.
It is worth thinking back to those times when Ferguson took over. Those of us that grew up watching football in the middle of the 1980s and can remember back to the era will scarcely be able to convey just how different football was then to now, Crowds were down, stadiums were crumbling, you were lucky if you saw any live football at all on TV apart from the odd game on a Sunday and the cup final (indeed there was blackout in the early part of that season that meant not even highlights were shown. English clubs were not, thanks to the hooliganism that blighted the sport, allowed to compete in Europe. This was pre the Hillsborough disaster and the 1990 World Cup – both events which, in their own very different ways had such a changing effect on the game.
In the age where Chelsea might as well give the prefix “interim” to all Managers and Roberto Mancini gets the sack a year to the day after winning the title bosses aren’t afforded the luxury of time. It is therefore, worth recalling that Ferguson went until 1990 before winning his first trophy. Indeed, it could have all been so different as rumours were circulating that if United were knocked out of the FA Cup that year then the Scot could have found himself looking for work. As it was a late Mark Robins goal won that game and in the final Crystal Place were overcome in a replay to take home the silverware.
A little after this football in this country was changed forever by the advent of the Premier League, the subsequent pumping in of astronomical amounts of Sky cash and the advent of the Champions League. More than any other club, perhaps, Manchester United were able to move between the old world of football and the new with effortless ease. And much of that is down to Ferguson.
You only need to look at Arsenal to see how hard it is to build and rebuild teams, sell key players and replace them. But whereas Arsene Wenger has, for all his qualities, never been able to match his “Invincibles” team of the mid 2000s and The Gunners are without any trophy for the last eight years, Fergie has been able to sell key players like David Beckham, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Japp Stam and Cristiano Ronaldo and still achieve success in a quite unprecedented way.
The word “legend” is bandied around all too easily these days, but surely is entirely appropriate in the case of Sir Alex. Here is a man who has won 38 trophies in 26 years and delivered 13 Premier League titles, but that only tells half the story. The way that he has done it, the way he has been able to navigate throughout all the different era of the game, surely means that we will never see his like again.
Sir Alex Ferguson must surely be the greatest British Manager to ever live. And possibly the greatest of them all.
Thursday May 2, 2013 at 5:40pm
As everybody with even a passing interest in football knows Luis Suarez is kicking his heels instead of playing football as the FA decided he should be banned for ten games for biting Bratislav Ivanovic when Liverpool played Chelsea the other week.
It seems like everybody has had their say on the rights and wrongs of what he did, ranging from the FA Disciplinary Panel, who said: “"We took into consideration of Mr Suárez's apology, his personal statement, supporting letter from Mr Brendan Rodgers and the letter from [club secretary] Ms Zoe Ward," explained the commission. "But when these were read in conjunction with Mr Suárez's denial of the standard punishment that would otherwise apply for violent conduct is clearly insufficient, it seemed to us that Mr Suárez has not fully appreciated the gravity and seriousness of this truly exceptional incident."
Brendan Rogers said his player had been “victimised” and that he would understand if Suarez wanted to quit the country given his treatment. Pepe Reina said his team mate was being treated differently because of the “hypocrisy” in the English game. Finally David Cameron said that player had set a bad example to his watching son.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the punishment it does seem that the FA have got themselves into something of a mess yet again regarding the mixed messages they are sending.
This is, of course, not the first time Suarez has found himself in trouble with the FA. Last year was the rather distasteful and grubby incident involving the player and Patrice Evra. Strip away all the outrage, the silly t-shirts worn by the Liverpool squad and manager at the time Kenny Dalglish (which ultimately you would guess were a contributory factor in his sacking) and Luis Suarez racially abused an opponent.
For this he received an eight game ban.
Similarly if you clear away all the furore around the biting incident the other week and whatever anyone’s views are, and all that actually matters is that in the eyes of the FA biting someone is worse than racism. This is rather at odds with their stated “zero tolerance” approach to racism and seems just as muddled as some of the arguments that Liverpool players and management came out with in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
We have seen from governing bodies before, notably UEFA, that they say one thing and often do another, or at the very least send out mixed signals. Remember the Euro Championships last year when Nicklas Bendtner got fined €100,000 for displaying Paddy Power’s image on his shorts, while fans making monkey noises at black players in the Europa Cup just before this resulted in a €24,000 sanction.
It seems that for all the talk of getting tough, making the game inclusive and accessible to all, when it actually comes to the crunch all the governing bodies are guilty of the same apathy.
Perhaps that was what Pepe Reina meant when he talked of hypocrisy in the game but you unfortunately suspect that it was not. Similarly Mr Cameron and his young son, if they are truly looking for a bad example, then maybe they should look off the pitch and into the FA Headquarters where the age old and rather stupid playground maxim of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me” still rather bizarrely holds true.
Thursday April 18, 2013 at 5:50pm
When Roy Hodgson got the England Manager’s job one of the reasons he got it was because he was seen as a safe pair of hands who wasn’t going to say much in the way of anything controversial.
This week, though, he decided to round on the Premier League and even the quality of the players that are available to select: ‘I go to quite a few games these days and there are no English players,” he said. “One has to be very careful talking about the Premier League and the Englishness of it because two thirds of the players are not English. We have one of the lowest numbers of homegrown players and that must put us at a major disadvantage to other nations.”
The obvious, immediate point here is if games Hodgson goes to watch contain no England players, then why is he watching them? Surely it is incumbent on the England manager to actually watch players he could pick, or is that too simplistic.
That aside he may have a point, in fairness it is hard to argue against anything else he said. We have written on this blog before that the Premier League is pretty obviously getting worse in terms of quality and the level of players it can attract. It is perhaps reasonable to say that the self-styled “best league in the world” now lags behind Spain and Germany in terms of skill levels, and if you look at Barcelona, they had eight players eligible for the Spanish national team in their most recent team.
If you look at the squads throughout Europe’s top leagues Just 34.9 per cent of the players in the Premier League are eligible for the national team, compared with 45 per cent in Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A, 58 per cent in France’s Ligue 1 and 59 per cent in Spain’s La Liga.
But can you blame the clubs? Such is the money involved both in buying English qualified players – for example does anyone believe that Andy Carroll is worth the £35m that Liverpool paid for him? How about Jordan Henderson? Has he repaid the £20m he cost? Jack Rodwell the same price when he went to Man City? Of course not. Whereas Newcastle might feel they had value for money when the paid a fraction of the cost for Cisse, Cabaye and the like.
Moreover, such is the money involved in the top league now (with figures like £80m being talked about for being in the Premier League next season) the clubs have a responsibility to make sure they remain in the top flight as best as they can. Indeed, if you look at Roy Hodgson’s last game in club management, he selected just two English qualified players – Billy Jones and Liam Ridgewell – who lets be frank, are not going to pull on the Three Lions anytime soon. Now he is, as it were, on the other side of the fence, all of a sudden he is concerned about the good of the national team.
Not surprisingly club managers have been lining up to disagree. Alex Ferguson, which is no great shock was the first, retorting: "Look at the opposite side. International football interferes with the clubs' ambitions – friendly games for a start. They have been doing it for the last decade, playing a friendly in the week before the season starts. Tell me the sense of that. It doesn't matter what way you look at it.
"Club managers are always in disagreement with international football, particularly in friendly situations. I have no issues at all about the competitive part. The players should always be available for the European Championship and the World Cup."
The problem is whatever the rights and wrongs of the argument – and you can see the points on both sides – it is not something that is going to get easily resolved. The battle between club and country has been going on for years and is getting ever more bitter. The money and power in UK football is with the Premier League, whether the FA likes it or not. There is also the question of whether fans are all that bothered. Would any Manchester City supporter, for example, swap last season’s incredible title win for England winning Euro 2012? I would say it was doubtful and for that reason alone, the national team will always struggle in the modern era and the usually quiet Hodgson is fighting a battle that, right now, he cannot win.
Thursday April 11, 2013 at 3:11pm
Something a little bit different on the blog this week.
The inspirational tale of Frankie Delling, who at nearly 77, might well be the oldest active player currently in one of our leagues.
We are grateful to our Regional Manager in the Exeter area, Chris Hurley for the interview and pictures.
If you know someone who can take Frankie's crown as our oldest player then please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
As you know Frankie, I really wanted to share your story with the rest of the football world, as far as I had contact. You are a fascinating and inspirational character and I personally wanted to know you a bit better.
1) Where were you born and when?
1st May 1936.
2) What were your first football memories? Ie watching a live game
Playing for Bradley Rowe School (Exeter) aged 6
3) Which professional team is closest to your heart?
Man Utd (Pre Rooney)
4) Why do you enjoy playing for Armageddon Tired in Leisure Leagues – Exeter?
At 76 it’s nice to be asked. The league is well organized and friendly.
5) Who is the best player you have ever seen live and who is your favourite ever player?
Sir Stanley Matthews
6) What is the highest level you have played at or coached at?
Whilst in Egypt I played for the RAF services against a Cyprus representative team.
7) What is your best ever personal football experience?
Scoring three goals at Exeter City’s St James Park pitch in the Football Express Cup
8) What advise would you give to younger players?
Learn the laws of living
9) Explain the life changing advise given to you by your doctor all those years ago which gave you a new lease of life?
At age 30 my doctor advised me to give up smoking after eight years of trying to overcome ankle injuries. I played most of my best football between 30 and 45.
10) What makes you able to play at the age of 76?
I am intrigued by all aspects of the game
11) If you had your time over what, if anything, would you change?
I would not have smoked and would have tried to keep fitter.
12) Which person do you most admire and why? (apart from me ;-)
Haha, apart from you, my daughter, for her honesty and lifestyle.
13) What is your diet like? Are you strict? Do you drink much alchohol?
Not much alchohol, unless you’re paying! Eat well but stop before I am full.
14) How would you explain how your attitude affects your physical well being and longevity?
Each day I say I am getting fitter and happier.
15) What is next for Frankie Delling? Do you harbor any unfulfilled goals or dreams?
Waking each morning helps trying to play as long as possible. I have no unfulfilled goals, I live for now.
Its been nice chatting Frankie, I’ll see you on Sunday for another fun kick about.
Friday April 5, 2013 at 12:41pm
The fact that Martin O’Neil became the latest manager to lose his job in a turbulent season for manager’s everywhere to be honest wasn’t that big a shock. It had never looked like the greatest fit up there, and aside from some decent results when he first arrived things haven’t gone too well. O’Neil himself seems like he might have lost a little spark. He just didn’t seem himself on the touchline and results haven’t been great and his signings, with the possible exception of Steven Fletcher, just haven’t worked.
If the dismissal wasn’t as controversial as some this season in the top flight – Nigel Adkins at Southampton and Brian McDermott at Reading can count themselves as extremely unfortunate to lose their posts - perhaps the man that replaced him was the biggest shock of all.
Paulo Di Canio polarised opinion as a player and he did so as a manager in his time at Swindon Town, when he, basically, acted like Paulo Di Canio. He bought lots of players, fell out with some, got sent off, argued with refs, his board, the press and did some odd things, like sub his goalie after twenty minutes of one game – and yet somehow it all worked.
His team won the league, and were well placed for another promotion around the time he had one too many disagreements with his board of directors and left the County Ground.
Much of the media coverage of the appointment has centred on Di Canio’s politics, but whatever he does or doesn’t believe will have very little affect on whether Sunderland football club escape relegation or not – and that is what we will concern ourselves with on this blog.
The timing of the appointment and the sacking were widely seen as strange too. There are, after all, just seven games to go in the Premier League season for most clubs, which is barely time at all for the new man to get ideas across to the players. It is seen, rather like the removal of Brian McDermott and subsequent appointment of Nigel Adkins, as being too late.
The key difference between Sunderland and Reading is that The Black Cats are not in the relegation zone. Yes, they are in freefall, but there are other clubs, notably Norwich and Stoke who are on equally poor runs of form. So when the new manager in charge says he would “confidently bet all he has” on them staying up, he can do so with a small degree of confidence.
Arguably there has never been a season when staying up was quite so important. Everyone knows by now that there is a new TV deal which comes into force next season which will guarantee even the bottom club in the division upwards of £80m (or to put it another way the same as Manchester City got for winning the league last season) really, the monetary gap between the Premier League and Championship will never be bigger than it will be next campaign.
Is it perhaps that fear that is making Chairman take these gambles? Is the prospect of losing out on these riches that is making those in charge at clubs risk their futures on staying up?
Certainly viewed in this context the moves that have been made in some lower half teams this term perhaps make more sense. At QPR they got Harry in to wheel and deal (and spend more cash than seemed prudent) while at Southampton they didn’t really spend much money but did go with a coach that couldn’t speak English. Reading sacked a loyal club servant and Sunderland made their move last weekend. Interestingly, of these moves, the one that was most controversial, the Saint Mary’s sacking, looks like it might be the only one to pay off.
The others can be discussed in May, but of course, if Sunderland go down its more than the fans that will suffer – their new manager stands to lose all he owns. And so might a few clubs if everything goes wrong. The next Portsmouth might not be too far away.
Tuesday March 26, 2013 at 4:05pm
Last week on the Blog we asked whether players were keen to play for the countries anymore, when they might be risking injury – and potentially costing themselves fortunes of cash and club trophies on the process.
This week, we ask whether international football in its present form can actually survive at all or needs an overhaul.
Take England’s game on Friday for example. An 8-0 win, maybe but what was the point? San Marino are officially the world’s worst international football team and they really proved that the other night.
Did anyone enjoy the game as a spectacle, the 2000 travelling England fans? The millions watching on TV? The England players? Rio Ferdinand in the Al Jazeera studio? And crucially in all of this, did the San Marino players get anything from the experience? What could they possibly learn. Ok so they might have swapped shirts with their England counterparts but isn’t sport about more than that? Shouldn’t it be a contest too?
Prior to the match the San Marino coach was talking in terms of a 5-0 loss being like a victory for his team and in many ways he was right, but ultimately, whether his team wins or loses the game, the biggest loser is the sport itself.
Surely there are, in international qualifying tournaments, too many meaningless games.
In the last 10 years, San Marino have lost all 55 of their competitive matches, Lichtenstein have won five games in the same period, Malta one and the Faroe Islands two, so what is the point of teams like this playing against the established nations on a regular basis? Surely they would benefit from having their own tournament, the prize for which, say, could be right to play in the qualifying groups of the world cup or the European Championships.
This is not like the FA Cup, when a tiny team can win through the qualifying rounds, starting in August, for the right to play at a massive Premier League ground and enjoy their day in the spotlight. This is about almost ritual and continual humiliation.
Presently, the way the seeding for these tournaments works means there is almost no chance of San Marino and the Faroe Islands being drawn together, which only means months and months of losses and eventually, once the novelty has worn off, a lack of interest from the watching public. This is evidenced by the fact there were more England fans in the ground for Friday’s walkover than
The problem is perhaps more pronounced on other continents where teams such as American Samoa compete – and get routinely thrashed – by their opponents, and with so many meaningless and downright pointless matches throughout the globe aren’t the public just going to turn off from international football in their millions?
Some think not. In fact the San Marino FA tweeted their English counterparts to express their displeasure at the perceived arrogance of ITV’s commentary, and some have put forward other arguments about it being “special” for the players of these countries, about the same media that decry the likes of San Marino lapping up giant killings elsewhere – citing Senegal v France in 2002 as an example.
There is one key difference here: Senegal had won the right to be there by winning through a qualifying tournament. That is exactly what should happen with the qualifying for the World Cup and European Championships. The idea of the international walkover must become a thing of the past.
Friday March 22, 2013 at 4:15pm
Rio Ferdinand will be watching England play San Marino tonight. Like millions of others. That Rio will be doing it in Qatar while working for TV over there is now a matter of well documented record.
England boss Roy Hodgson consigned his international career to history yesterday when he confirmed that there was no way back for the Man Utd player this time. The whole episode, though, is a sadly a depressing reflection on international football and the way it is viewed by the players.
Ferdinand was, perhaps surprisingly called up last week for the up-coming England friendlies. Then at the weekend Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that the player would join up with the squad. Then came the announcement that he was dropping out due to an “intricate and pre-planned fitness programme” which apparently included a trip halfway around the world to act as a pundit on the England game he should have been playing in.
There has been much discussion of it since, and much consternation at Ferdinand, but really, can you blame him?
At 34 he has been a top player for a very long time. He has won just about every domestic honour there is to win and has played for his country 81 times. Now coming to the end of if his career as a footballer, he has – it appears safe to assume – been offered plenty of money to further his career as a media pundit (there are rumours already that he is perform the “Gary Neville” role on BT’s new football channel when it kicks off next season) and this might be valuable experience for him.
Moreover, the whole rather unfortunate affair raise the question of whether top players really care about playing for the country – and indeed whether they should.
Ferdinand’s club colleague, Ryan Giggs famously nearly always found an excuse not to play for Wales in non-competitive matches and there are deals done between the big clubs and international managers regarding players “workload.”
The players themselves are in an awkward position. They might be proud to play for their countries, of course, but do they really want to risk injury in a game that, perhaps end their career – such as happened to Dean Ashton on England duty a few years back. Substitute the name “Dean Ashton” for “Gareth Bale”: does the Spurs man really need an injury that might wreck his career and scupper a move to Barcelona or Real Madrid, say?
That is the position that football finds itself in. With the club game holding all the power – and therefore the money – is it really the pinnacle of a player career to play in the world cup?
Other sports do not have this problem; Cricket for example has a structure that puts the national team at the heart of all it does. The England and Wales Cricket board have the international player’s contracts and it has a pool of players that it “controls” and is able to tell their clubs whether they can or cannot play a particular game, which is almost the polar opposite of football’s situation.
Of course such a thing would never happen in football, but until the international game is the most important thing in a player’s career again, we can bet there will be many more situations like Rio Ferdinand’s in the future.
Tuesday March 5, 2013 at 3:25pm
Around about six weeks ago we wrote a blog on this website that asked if the Premier League was getting worse.
Since then we have seen Bayern Munich – unless there is a major shock next week – put Arsenal out of the Champions League, which means that if Real Madrid overcome Man Utd tonight and Juventus complete the seemingly routine task of seeing off Celtic tomorrow then the UK faces the very real prospect of having no teams in the latter stages of the major European competition.
If you look at our top domestic competition too, there does seem to be a genuine lack of quality around. Even Man Utd, who are set to win the league at some point next month have not the heights you might expect of a team that is quite so far clear at the top.
This weekend we have seen some pivotal games at the top and bottom. Arsenal sit in danger of not securing Champions League football next term after losing a pretty exciting North London derby while at the other end, Villa’s win leaves them deep in danger and facing two games that well define their future.
Which leads to the question of whether it’s this aspect – that of the future of so many clubs being dependent on staying in the English Premier League – that is leading to the lack of quality we are seeing. Put simply, is the cost of failure becoming to big a price to pay?
There is a quite staggering amount of money on offer for being in the league next season. Even the bottom placed team can look towards securing a windfall in excess of £80m. The new UK TV deals involving Sky and BT are worth over £3bn (an increase of 70% on the last one) and that doesn’t even take into account the various overseas deals that the Premier League is able to do for foreign rights. When these are all counted up, it appears likely that the final total of money coming into the PL coffers is around £5bn.
The American rights were purchased by NBC, who are paying $250m (£157m) to show the games, while even showing the games in Brazil will cost $50m.
Given these riches, are we getting to a stage where teams cannot afford to go down? And given those stakes is it not at least understandable that the teams in the bottom half are nervously looking over their shoulders, while the financial people at the clubs frantically work their calculators. The problem is that with this fear of failure comes the obvious nervousness, which can lead to a lack of confidence and quality and this season it seems to have done just that.
The other problem for these clubs is that once they are down, it seems to be getting ever harder to get back. The days of the yo-yo club, where teams moved freely around the top two divisions seem to be – largely – a thing of the past. Last season’s relegated teams are not faring well. Blackburn and Bolton have changed managers but sit in mid-table, while Wolves did likewise but are in severe danger of getting relegated. And the Championship is littered with teams who just can’t recapture former glories, like Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds and Forest. While lower down Sheffield United seem to beginning their assent to better times, while Portsmouth’s implosion since their relegation means they have bigger things to worry about than being bottom of League One.
So whilst it might not make for a thrilling spectacle for the neutrals – and even for the fans of the clubs themselves – perhaps it is worth sacrificing a little quality for a lot of cash.
Friday February 15, 2013 at 4:34pm
We have written about Manager’s extensively on this blog recently. Specifically the lack of loyalty that many of them have shown this season. To that long list of men like Michael Appleton, Ian Holloway and others, we can now add Mark Robins.
Robins walked out on Coventry just five months into a three year contract when Huddersfield made advances for him. The Coventry Chief Executive Tim Fisher was understandably pretty aggrieved – and it is worth looking at his statement in full, as he does sound genuinely hurt.
“To say we are disappointed is an understatement. We gave Mark a three-year contract which we saw as a long-term appointment.
“Added to this, Mark was able to bring in those members of staff that he requested, plus we gave a considerable financial commitment in terms of players brought in during the loan windows to ensure that we had a strong, competitive team on the pitch.
“Over the last few months, we have had several clubs interested in securing Mark's services and we have fought off multiple approaches. We made every effort to ensure he stayed with us.
“Once it became obvious that there was no way forward we had no choice but to eventually allow him to speak to Huddersfield.
“The club went through a very rigorous process in appointing Mark, we believed in him, his management team and felt he was ideally suited to the challenge that we face at Coventry City.
“Mark has been involved in all aspects of club development on and off the field from top to bottom.
'The turnaround in fortunes at the club has vindicated both the faith and trust we showed in Mark and I believe everyone - supporters and players alike - agreed that we are at the start of something very special and exciting.
'So for this departure to happen at the business end of the season and in this manner, is frustrating and disappointing in equal measure for all concerned. It is fair to say that we are all deflated by Mark’s decision to go and, equally, I am sure the supporters will feel the same frustration”
All as unseemly then as the other managers who have left clubs this year. The club he is departing from feels betrayed – and perhaps rightly so. The only winners in this, it seems from the outside at least that the only winners in this are Huddersfield, who have secured the services of a decent, and proven manager.
And as much as we have criticized the managers in for what they have done in terms of the problems they have left clubs in, there is another side to this and we can use Robins’ new club as an example.
Robins has got the job because Simon Grayson was sacked after less than a year in charge. In that time he got the Terriers promoted, lost the teams best player in Jordan Rhodes and stablilised the team in the Championship. Granted they had some dodgy results either side of Christmas just before Grayson’s sacking, but still largely you could say he had done a decent job.
As had the man that he replaced at the Galpharm, Lee Clark. Clark had, if you recall, presided over what was a football league record unbeaten run while in charge at Huddersfield – before he too was sent on his way by the Chairman.
It is not for us to say whether these decisions are right or wrong in the main – although we will question the ludicrous decision Nottingham Forest made to sack Sean O’Driscoll and replace him with Alex McLeish which has backfired spectacularly. But rather to say that viewed in this context who can really blame Manager’s for doing exactly what they do and furthering their own careers in the game, without really caring what happens to the clubs they leave behind.
Perhaps the sooner we remember that loyalty is a two-way street, the game of football might be better off.