Ferguson and Wenger Set the Example

Controling owners lead to manager carousel in English football

By Terence Shanahan
Epoch Times Staff
Created: December 21, 2010 Last Updated: December 22, 2010
Related articles: Sports » Football (Soccer)
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Arsene Wenger (L) and Sir Alex Ferguson are anomalies in the English Premier League, given the their long tenure with their respective clubs. (Ben Radford/Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger (L) and Sir Alex Ferguson are anomalies in the English Premier League, given the their long tenure with their respective clubs. (Ben Radford/Getty Images)

Watch them come and hear them go.

Who can be called a great manager of English football in today’s world of the quick fix?

Regrettably few to mention with Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger leading the field with their firm belief in enterprising attacking football and an invigorating youth policy that stimulates and sustains the whole body of the club.

These two seasoned wise heads remain firmly in charge, standing no nonsense from any quarter, gaining the respect and confidence from their players and fans throughout the football fraternity.

New Breed

Presently the spate of new owners—chiefly foreign—altering the shape of the Premiership by wanting to hold the reins, and actually considering their business acumen as somehow an asset to the overall performance of a club, don’t understand player power and that the heart of any club resides in the players’ dressing room and not in the boardroom.

Ferguson and Wenger protect and hold a firm grip on this treasure chest, and none to date have ever challenged their authority with any great measure. Ferguson in particular has hit the headlines with dramatic dismissals of any players—regardless of standing or ability—who threatened the characteristic spirit and attributes within the confines of the players’ dressing room.

The results produced far outweigh the clubs who surprisingly appoint levels of authority (sporting directors, others in charge of player transfers and so on) and give the impression that they are ever so politely keeping an eye on the manager.

Over the past several months, managers have been unseated or resigned about whom it is claimed rebelled against “interference from above” in relation to them making decisions on a broad front of issues. These managers claim that their status has been belittled in the eyes of their staff and players, presenting themselves as sad “Yes men.”

One of the most dramatic resignations was the Roy Keane affair as then manager of Sunderland. Keane left abruptly Dec. 4, 2009.

New owner Ellis Short, the president of the Texas-based company Lone Star Funds almost wanted to know what Keane was having for breakfast.

By contrast, on the day that Sunderland was playing to confirm its promotion to the Premiership, Keane did not attend the game, and was walking his dog near his home when his mobile phone rang to inform that they had won 5–0.

That year he received the Manager of the Year Award. How the fiery Keane could conform to the Ellis Short regime requiring him to do a 9-to-5 takes no great stretch of the imagination.

On Aug. 14, 2006, it was confirmed that Randy Lerner, owner of the Cleveland Browns and a native Ohioan, had reached an agreement of with Aston Villa for a takeover of the club.

Martin O’Neill had been appointed manager on Aug. 4, 2006 and, like Keane, was a former player for Nottingham Forest and schooled in the management wiles of the great Brian Clough. O’Neill also resigned abruptly Aug. 9, 2010, amid murmurings of conflict with Randy Lerner.

Lerner issued a statement two days later saying he and O'Neill "no longer shared a common view as to how to move forward.”

With Sunderland, Aston Villa, Manchester United, and Liverpool all with American owners, remember when you through a silver dollar down upon the ground it goes round, round, round.

‘Big Sam’

Indian poultry firm Venky's, who bought Blackburn Rovers in a 43 million pound deal last month, fired manager Sam Allardyce on Dec. 10 claiming he was not the man to take them forward.

Previously expressing his delight about the takeover and looking forward to meeting the Venky family, Allardyce had no idea there would be very little dialogue, “hello and goodbye.”

Allardyce was extremely shocked, as reported by ESPN saying, "I can't get my head around it. Someone has obviously said something derogatory to get me out of this job, and that is the one thing I want to find out.”

This is the second time new owners have cost “Big Sam” his job.

Allardyce’s exit compounds a day in the life of a Premiership takeover, and how the boardroom in most cases prefers a manager who for various reasons is new to his trade or has been a long time out of work. Of course, the reason being compliance with the directive of the balance sheet.

And now on a more conciliatory note, Ferguson’s 24 years at Manchester United and Wenger’s 14 as Arsenal manager place them well ahead of the rest in the list of English football’s longest-serving managers.

Only John Coleman, Accrington Stanley manager since August 1999, can also claim to have been in charge prior to the start of this century.


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