Clubs going behind the backs of their managers - Part of the game or unacceptable?

Simon Lillicrap by Simon Lillicrap / 12 January 2017, 15:54

With the news breaking that the prospective new Nottingham Forest owners are planning on replacing French boss Philippe Montanier with Englishmen Gary Rowett, we look into the history and integrity of clubs going behind their managers back.

Forest currently lie two points off the relegation zone but Montanier has only been in charge since the start of the season. His team are underperforming but the ongoing rumours of his imminent dismissal cannot be helping the situation in the dressing room.

The first thing to state is that there is nothing wrong with a club changing manager. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. If a club is not happy with the way things are going on the pitch they are within their rights to sack their manager after agreeing a compensation fee, and begin searching for his replacement.

Despite this, there has been a trend in recent times of clubs finding a new manager and agreeing a contract with him all behind their current managers back, then dismissing said current manager, often undeservedly, once the deal is ready to go through.

This was the case when Rowett himself left Birmingham City. With Birmingham 7th in the Championship and having turned the club’s fortunes around, Rowett was dismissed by the Blues’ new owners and instantly replaced by Gianfranco Zola.

The reasons cited by the owners were:

“With a strategic, long-term view and with the club’s best interests at heart.”

Birmingham have since dropped to 13th in the table, 7 points off the play offs.

Back in 2009, Mark Hughes was replaced by Roberto Mancini at Man City just two hours after his side had beaten Sunderland 4-3. Sheikh Mansour was not impressed with Hughes during his time in charge and felt a replacement was needed. This is fair but the swiftness in which Hughes was replaced suggests that Mancini was waiting in the wings as Hughes managed his final game.

Another example of this comes from Manchester United last season. Louis Van Gaal finished the season with an FA Cup victory, however the sides form earlier in the season had led to rumours of a replacement manager. Jose Mourinho was heavily linked with the job in February and after Van Gaal departed two days after the Cup success, the former Chelsea boss was appointed just a day later.

Although he has gone on to become one of the top managers in the world, Mauricio Pochettino’s appointment at Southampton was also shrouded in controversy. He replaced Nigel Adkins who had achieved great things at the club, taking them from League One to the Premier League, and they looked set to survive in their debut season in the top flight.

The decision to go behind Adkins’ back when he was doing such a good job and replace him with a manger who could not even speak English caused outcry amongst Saints fans. They went on to play European football thanks to Pochettino before he left for Spurs.

Meanwhile, the most recent example of this was Oldham's decision to sack Stephen Robinson after six months, and instantly replace him with former boss John Sheridan, who had only been out of work for 10 days (he was sacked by Notts County on 2nd January 2017).

This trend of managers being undermined and disregarded by the club owners doesn’t seem to be coming to an end. The least that these managers deserve for their hard work is honesty from their employees.

 

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Managers Departed

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Harry Kewell
Harry Kewell
(Oldham Athletic)
7th March
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