Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: nid in views_handler_field_term_node_tid->pre_render() (line 98 of /var/www/html/docroot/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/
  • Notice: Undefined index: nid in views_handler_field_term_node_tid->pre_render() (line 98 of /var/www/html/docroot/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/


Are Premier League Teams Firing Managers Too Fast?

Even after Chelsea’s dramatic 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev in the UEFA Champions League group stage, rumors continue to swirl over the future of manager Jose Mourinho, who, after winning the league last season with Chelsea, should theoretically be the safest of Premier League managers. 

In fact, freelance reporter Dan Levene — a well-respected reporter who has been covering the team for years — believes Mourinho will be fired after this weekend’s match against Stoke City, regardless of the outcome.

“I hear he could have gone on Sunday [after the 3-1 loss to Liverpool] – but, like previous sackings, Chelsea are choosing their moment. They want an opportunity that minimises the damage caused to the club. That means balancing the risk that a Mourinho side increasingly riven with divisions continues to lose games, with a moment to give his replacement the longest possible run-up at a debut match,” Levene wrote on EuroSport

Of course, these rumors started well in advance of these fixtures, and before Chelsea’s defeat last weekend at the hands of Liverpool and their newly-appointed manager, Jurgen Klopp. It’s an unbelievable fall from grace for Mourinho. Given the team’s horrific start to the season, last year’s EPL title is an afterthought to many, most notably Blues owner Roman Abramovich. 

After all, the Russian billionaire is no stranger to Chelsea sackings. Since he took ownership of the club in 2003, he’s appointed 10 different managers, and this is Mourinho’s second stint. And this isn’t simply a Chelsea problem. It’s an epidemic in soccer. 

With such uncertainty over who will manage clubs — even on a season-to-season basis — it’s no surprise that the results of the best clubs tend to fluctuate dramatically. 

To put it another way, imagine if you were working at a company for 10 years, and every year or two you had a new boss, each one with a different set of rules and standards. It would hard to perform at your best all the time, because you have to get used to impressing a different person, year-to-year. 

Being a professional soccer player is a job — albeit a fun one — and they can fall victim to this circumstance as well. 

Which leaves Chelsea, and Abramovich, in a predicament. Do you keep Mourinho for the long-term, and hope that the team eventually improves its form? Or do you cut him loose again, and find another manager to lead the team? 

As it turns out, Abramovich — and other soccer owners — could learn a thing or two from the best sports franchises in North America. Here’s just a couple of examples. 

Examples For Premier League Managers To Follow: Gregg Popovich: San Antonio Spurs 

Once upon a time, the San Antonio Spurs were a model of mediocrity in the NBA. They had made the playoffs before, sure, but could not capture an elusive NBA title. 

That sentiment is hard to imagine now, as under the helm of Gregg Popovich the Spurs have won five championships, with the last one being in 2014. Since becoming the head coach before the 1996-97 season, what’s helped Popovich succeed in San Antonio is a combination of loyal players and unselfish, team basketball. 

However, fundamentals aside, he’s also never had to face any pressure over his job security. Now, obviously it’s hard to consider firing a coach that has won several championships, but within the Spurs’ success has been some catastrophic failures. 

What most comes to mind is the team’s first-round playoff defeat to the No. 8-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in 2011. The Spurs came into the playoffs with the best record in the league, and were simply outmuscled by a physical Memphis frontcourt. 

In total, Popovich has lost in the first round of the playoffs four times. Relative to soccer, it would be the equivalent of getting knocked out of the Champions League group stage. For some managers, that alone can spell controversy. 

But Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford, in addition to team owner Peter Holt, have remained loyal to Popovich since 1996. Even in disappointing seasons — such as the Memphis defeat — the mentality is that, with so many competitive teams in the league each year, it’s hard to win each and every year. 

Perhaps someone should inform Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, after he fired Carlo Ancelotti just a year after winning the Copa del Rey and Champions League. 

"What did Ancelotti do wrong? I don't know. The demands here at Real Madrid are very high. The affection that the players and the fans have for Carlo is the same as the affection I myself have for him,” Perez said at a press conference after firing Ancelotti. 

Perez isn’t the only one. His stubbornness is a trait he shares with many of his peers. But with such unrealistic expectations, the coaching carousel will continue. 

Examples For Premier League Managers To Follow: Mike Tomlin: Pittsburgh Steelers  

Mike Tomlin entered a head coaching vacancy with the Pittsburgh Steelers after they parted ways with a retiring Bill Cowher, who spent 15 years with the team. It was a questionable hire at the time, as Tomlin had just a year of experience as a Defensive Coordinator — essentially the level below a head coach in football. To some pundits, it was a risky move. 

However, in just his second year with the team, he proved his worth. The Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII in 2008, and solidified Tomlin’s position as one of the most promising young coaches in the NFL. 

Since then, the Steelers have remained competitive, but have yet to win another title. The team hasn’t had a postseason win since 2010. Overall, in eight full seasons, the team has made the playoffs five times with Tomlin. 

But it’s that consistency that has kept Tomlin with the Steelers. There have been rumors in the past of a breakup, but they’ve been just that: rumors. 

If they had fired Tomlin, he’d be the first coach fired by the team since the 60s. That is coaching loyalty personified. 

The concept sounds so simple, and yet it’s so foreign for soccer club owners. Be patient, be loyal and be consistent. 

That isn’t to say there aren’t pertinent examples in soccer. Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson were together for over a decade, even at times when the team failed to win titles. Arsene Wenger is still the man at Arsenal, and that’s highly unlikely to change until the Frenchman contemplates retirement. 

There’s a reason ‘patience is a virtue’ is such a commonplace idiom. It works, both in and outside the realm of sports. It’s the reason why teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Pittsburgh Steelers are so revered in their respective leagues. It’s why other teams want to emulate them. 

It might be too late for Mourinho with Chelsea, if the rumors are true. However, if there is still any doubt in the mind of Abramovich, it wouldn’t behoove him to endure this woeful start. 

If Popovich and Tomlin are any indication, the move — of lack thereof — is a long-term model of success. 

Videos you might like