The futility of a Manager’s contract in the modern era of English Football

Upon arrival at a new club, football managers tend to sign a contract keeping them at their club for at least a year before they move on to more ambitious challenges. However, this trend in management duration has changed drastically in recent years. In the golden age of football during the 1990s, managers were given a fair period of time to change the fortunes of teams underperforming before they were relieved of their duties. However, in recent years, some managers aren’t even given half a year to prove their credentials due to the desire for success at football clubs which often means the job of the manager is sacrificed for the reputation of the club.

The need for a reputation is usually influenced by the hierarchy of the club and when the transition of ownership occurs, the meaning of a manager’s contract diminishes. An influx of foreign investors in football clubs has meant a radical change in the running of a club similar to the running of foreign clubs. As a result of this, philosophies clash and arguments arise between the owners and the managerial staff over the direction they see the club heading. A prime example of this is the radicalisation of Leeds United under the realm of Italian supremo Massimo Cellino.

When Massimo Cellino arrived at Leeds United in 2014, he came with a worrying reputation after being nicknamed the “manager eater” after his stint in Italy as owner of Cagliari forced him to swing the axe on more than ten managers. His lack of experience in the English league showed when experienced Championship manager Brian McDermott was relieved of his duties at the end of the 2013/14 season. This showed his vague knowledge of the Championship football, and the appointment of previous Conference league manager Dave Hockaday instilled little belief to the Leeds United faithful which resulted in a solid eight games in charge before he was sacked by Cellino. All of a sudden, Hockaday’s seemingly secure two-year-contract was gone in two and a half months and this is legal in football due to the ability of the rich owners to buy out the managers’ contract to move them on so a better manager can replace them quickly for the benefit of the club.

This is a prime example of the futility of a manager’s contract as they can just be eradicated after they underperform for a short period of time. Owners who are new to English football need to gain a grasp of the reality of the league and need to realise that whoever is appointed, their team is going to lose a few games, this is how a team improves.

Even if a mass takeover occurs, new owners need to trust the previous appointments of the past owners and give the new manager time to implement his philosophy into his new team and not sack them just because they didn’t make the appointment. This was apparent when Torquay United were taken over in 2007 by a consortium and Leroy Rosenior, (in charge of Torquay for a second stint), was supposedly sacked after only ten minutes of being instated.

This proves how worthless a manager’s contract is in football as it can easily be removed and forgotten due to desire for success and fame in a club which often means the work done by a manager to gain that fame goes unnoticed which makes them easy to replace. A manager’s contract should be cherished rather than disregarded because it is the work of the manager which installs confidence into the players of a football club which allows them to play exceptionally and gain form. This form comes from winning games and time is needed to allow a team to gel under a new manager’s instructions and the quality is there with all managers, they just need the right conditions to work in and fearing the loss of their job due to ruthless owners doesn’t help the form of teams.  


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