(Managerial) Change is, perhaps, necessary!
It is said that ‘Change is the only constant’!
In this day and age when the dynamics of premier league are in a state of flux, the above mentioned paradox can be clearly observed at the management level of clubs. A string of bad results is enough to send a manager packing these days. Not even half way in the season and already two managers, Roberto Di Matteo (Chelsea) and Mark Hughes (QPR) have got the sack, with a couple of others under pressure. Interestingly the two sackings highlight the completely different trends of why managers are getting sacked thick and fast now-a-days.
Roberto Di Matteo’s sacking highlights the ambition of the rich owners of the clubs. A care-taker who was promoted internally for the big job by Abramovich, then delivered the Champions League, the one trophy Abramovich craved for, ever since taking over the club. Come next season, November, a couple of bad results and its time up for Di Matteo at Chelsea. One might argue that Chelsea being perilously close to not making the Champions league knock-out stage was a key issue, but the performances were not that bad, and Di Matteo had done a good job in incorporating the new players at the club while coping with the loss of Drogba and the injuries to key players.
Mark Hughes, on the other hand, had it coming. Not a single win whole season, already way behind the safety line and in no way looking to get away from the bottom spot. With the money QPR had spent on players, they should have been safe with a mid-table position. No surprise when he got the sack.
Judging by the standings one can expect a managerial change at Reading, Wigan or Southampton. But there is more pressure on Martin O’Neill and Paul Lambert at Sunderland and Aston Villa respectively, because of the expectations of the club. A couple of bad results and they will also be involved in the relegation dog fight.
But taking into account the stature of the clubs and the expectations, Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal should currently be facing sleepless nights due to the position they find themselves in and more importantly, due to the performances of their respective teams. Rodgers who proved himself at Swansea and having been brought in this season to steady the Liverpool ship will probably get more time for the rebuilding purpose.
But Arsene Wenger it seems has lost the plot. Arsenal over the last few seasons, have consistently lost its top players. Financial matters or footballing reasons, don’t matter at this point in time. The basic point this season is that Arsenal are not the team we have long known them to be. No ‘sexy’ football, no pass-pass fluidity. The once ‘Invincibles’ have become ‘Invisible’ from the title race even though with Christmas just approaching.
One might say this has been long in the making. Over the last of couple of seasons, Arsenal have been sliding away from the top of the table, their performances becoming less and less ‘champion’ like. The roots of this lie in Arsene Wenger not able to successfully rebuild his team following the departures of Henry, Bergkamp, Viera, Fabregas and others.
Even Sir Alex faced the same situation when Mourinho’s Chelsea ruled the Premier League. But he was able to build a new team that time and over the duration of his stay at Old Trafford he has build 5-6 different teams, all successful. What the difference has been with Sir Alex is that every time things start to become stale, he has found new challenges and new foes to motivate himself and the team. Plus there is the unparalleled hunger and desire to win that he possesses.
Even, David Moyes at Everton, the other long time managerial stalwart of the premier league, has had different challenges which has kept him focused. From establishing himself to saving the team from relegation, Champions League, rebuilding, finishing above Liverpool, Moyes has time and again found new avenues for freshness and motivation. In fact, with the tight budget he has to operate on, just being in the Premier League season in and season out, is a challenge at Everton.
Arsenal’s only challenge since the ‘Invincibles’ has been – being in the Champions League. The known fact that they being the ‘best of the rest’ is not a motive on which a whole team can be driven forward. Maybe the lack of challenges and the failure in emulating the undefeated squad has taken its toll on Arsene Wenger, or perhaps he has lost the edge. Whatever the case, a section of the neutrals and the football purists feel at Arsenal, change is perhaps necessary.