Teddy Sheringham's lack of managerial experience costing him dear at struggling Stevenage

Mike Holden by Mike Holden / 06 October 2015, 11:50

Teddy SheringhamFour defeats on the spin has propelled Stevenage gaffer Teddy Sheringham into the managerial spotlight. Feature writer Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) takes a look how the League Two club have struggled since opting to replace Graham Westley with the former England striker.

Only Teddy Sheringham knows how much effort went into his managerial education prior to landing the Stevenage job but the early evidence backs up the initial suspicion that it wasn't enough.

From the moment his workaholic predecessor Graham Westley was released to the day that Sheringham turned up in shorts and flip-flops to address Boro fans for the first time at an open-day event in the town, it was evident the club had changed its principles.

Gone was the daily grind of a manager who took everything a bit too seriously, someone who made plenty of enemies along the way. In came a household name with natural charisma, someone who would command instant respect from starstruck players and could open doors previously bolted shut.

Hard work was out of the window, Stevenage were now dealing in contacts, privileges and short cuts.

However, the trouble with a back-scratching business model is that the fundamentals still have to be achieved. It's all well and good having former clubs on speed dial for loan deals and pre-season friendlies but Sheringham was a knocking bet to come up short on his knowledge of the division, never mind dealing with the alien mindset of those in his own dressing room.

That might sound rather stereotypical but at no stage over the past four months has Sheringham said or done anything to confound the usual cliches of a superstar footballer dropping down a few divisions to start a managerial career. Had he given any indication in his early interviews that he knew anything about the players he inherited, it might have been different.

Instead, Stevenage find themselves fifth from bottom averaging less than a point per game following successive home defeats to Mansfield and Carlisle, and performance data indicates the situation could be a whole lot worse. Boro currently have the second-worst shot ratio in the division at 39 per cent, pretty embarrassing when you consider how close they were to securing promotion last term.

Indeed, Sheringham has gone on record himself in admitting that the previous manager left behind excellent standards, particularly with respect to work ethic. I'd be inclined to take this observation a stage further by asserting that Stevenage would be rock-bottom without Westley's legacy giving Teddy a leg-up. Home wins over Hartlepool and Plymouth lacked anything new, just tight contests that called upon good habits.

Clearly, Sheringham is learning on the job and he might argue that no amount of prior study can prepare you for the real thing, a typical refrain in the risk-taking English culture of low uncertainty avoidance. But this isn't a penalty shoot-out. Should he fail, idle summaries about lotteries and Lady Luck won't wash.

As a player, Sheringham had a cockiness that enabled him to flourish in scenarios where others felt pressure. His mind was his greatest asset and his instincts were unrivalled, but this isn't a scenario where the same rules apply.

Here, the languid approach that was the hallmark of a cool head in Sheringham's playing days undermines players who require clear direction. Faced with poor results and dwindling confidence, he looks like a manager who couldn't care less.

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