Is it time to Introduce a Managerial Transfer Window?

Matthew Crist by Matthew Crist / 05 December 2018, 14:24

With the January transfer window fast approaching is it time to regulate the hiring and firing of football managers too?

Last season, in the top-four English divisions alone, 39 managers departed clubs mid-season, and 18 have gone so far this campaign, while you can be sure that number will rise during the busy festive period.

And such is the pressure on the modern-day manager few are spared the luxury of enjoying Christmas knowing that their job is secure going into the New Year as the fear of relegation or failure becomes all too much for chairmen and owners.

As well as giving Jim White the chance to get overly excited for no real reason, the two transfer windows each year at least allow an element of stability for clubs who can plan somewhat for the coming months – something which managers simply can’t do.

Yes, there is a false frenzy created each August and every January as clubs scrabble around to shore up their defence or bolster a faltering frontline but once Mr White has put his yellow tie back in the drawer we can all return to a sense of normality for six months or so.

When it was first introduced in 2001 the player transfer window had its critics, but over the years we have grown to accept it as one thing it does offer players, clubs and supporters is stability.

Prior to this, players were free to move unopposed between clubs at any stage between the start of the season in July and the end of March which was the original “Deadline Day.”

The current system also allows both parties a greater chance to make sure that the transfer of a player is in the best interests of everyone involved while also ensuring the player being transferred takes a long, hard think before he commits himself to the move.

 

Something which might have benefited David Unsworth, who left Everton for Aston Villa in the summer of 1998, only to make a swift return a month later claiming the commute from his North-West home was too long.

And who could forget Joey Beauchamp? Who, after playing one pre-season game for West Ham following a £1.2million move from Oxford, claimed he was homesick and was swiftly transferred to Swindon at a loss of some £400,000?

It might be hard to have sympathy for someone who is often paid millions for their services, however long they are required, but a managerial “employment window” could well benefit the game as a whole if introduced.

For one it would ensure an element of stability at clubs who have recently changed their boss as all too often when a new manager comes in, they take time to settle and such is the impatience in the modern game this can result in their premature parting, often long before the clocks go back.

Take Darko Milanic who was appointed Leeds manager in September 2015 and then, just 32 days into the job, was sacked by the club. It was a similar story for Ronald de Boer at Crystal Palace who was dismissed after just 5 games in charge and Steve Bruce departed Aston Villa only five months after leading them to the Championship play-off final.

The current arrangement gives clubs an easy way out if things don’t begin well but this can have a detrimental effect on clubs as, when a manager moves, it changes everything, from the recruitment policy to principles of play, strategies and ways of working.

A January window would immediately eliminate this pressure as everyone knows that manager has the job until at least after Christmas with little that disgruntled fans and troublesome players can do about it – and as we all know, things can soon turnaround after even the poorest start to a managerial reign – just look at Steve McClaren at QPR.

A window would also offer some protection for smaller sides too as wealthier clubs who might be struggling early-on would be prevented from poaching the hottest property in the management game on a whim while providing young, domestic managers the time and experience they need to develop.

Of course there is an argument that an enforced window could encourage clubs to make a change knowing full well that this is their only chance before the end of the season and for sides struggling at the bottom this might be seen as an opportunity too good to miss.

But you only have to look at the top performing supermarkets or many of the companies listed on the FTSE 100 to see that in no other industry are managers or CEOs so dispensable and that’s because stability, performance and strategy are inherently linked in business.

Like the attention span of the population as a whole football is becoming more short-term by the year and is more results-driven than ever before. However, in order to achieve those results clubs might need to start changing the way they work and a mid-season managerial window might be the encouragement they need.

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Darrell Clarke
Darrell Clarke
(Bristol Rovers)
13th December
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