Another dramatic week in the Premier League sees more Managerial madness as one Birmingham based boss man has packed up and shipped out, while a Wild West London lunacy sees another not-so-happy one, clinging on desperately in the face of adversity, association football style.
The manager departing is the hapless headmaster, Tim Sherwood, who has finally fallen foul of the belligerent ghouls who run Aston Villa football schools, and has been shown the door, the final straw being the 2–1 home reverse to out of form Swansea City. The writing had seemingly been on the wall after a string of poor performances that failed to indicate that positive results would be forthcoming. Sherwood had only been in post since February and had been presumably employed with the notion that his ‘never say die’ attitude would galvanize the faltering Villains. As it turned out, it was successful in the very short term, as Villa’s top flight status was maintained and they reached the FA Cup Final as well (even if they were smacked all over Wembley by a ruthless Arsenal team, but let’s not worry about that minor detail here).
Unfortunately for Sherwood, the demands of the modern game for instant and continual relative success, with only minimal allowance for error, have finally caught up with him. Despite losing key players in the summer, the season started with victory on the opening day, but since then a wretched run of results has followed, culminating in the defeat last weekend – their sixth in a row. That is enough to test the patience of any suit and as it would appear that Sherwood could no longer rouse his troops, off he was sent, with the next gun for hire waiting in the wings.
In the queue
Among the front runners on this list, is not Tony Pulis or Big Sam Allardyce (more of him later), but Remi Garde, who used to run around in an Arsenal shirt for kicks (or to kick people), but has been lately seen in his native France as leader of Lyon. Also in the reckoning are other recent rejects, the not-in-the-least psychotic Nigel Pearson, Manchester’s forgotten one David Moyes (he wouldn’t, would he?) and the last guy to get gone, Brendan Rodgers.
Barely had the dust settled on the draws obtained by Liverpool and Sunderland in the last round of fixtures before the international break, when we were informed of the departure of managers at opposite ends of the football spectrum – modern-man-with-fresh ideas Rodgers was booted out of Merseyside for being unable to realise the perhaps unrealistic dream of obtaining silverware whilst rebuilding a fallen giant, while the Stadium of Light dimmed one last time for the seen-it-all-well-seasoned type Dick Advocaat as he faced up to the fact that he was not the man to lead the stricken Black Cats through yet another tumultuous relegation ride.
Much speculation followed, although in the end both teams pretty much got exactly what they wanted, after all what was really needed to prevent these sides from their specific imminent jeopardy? Well, according to the suits, a modern-man-with-fresh ideas and a seen-it-all-well-seasoned type; both sets of fans will probably think that they have lucked out though with their new acquisitions in the shape of the beardy, beaming and barmy Jurgen Klopp and the no nonsense, laugher in the face of relegation warlord that is Allardyce (at Liverpool and Sunderland respectively – only in Sam’s whacky world would it be the other way round).
Klopp has established himself as one of the most sought after managers since records began after an extremely successful reign at Borussia Dortmund, even being in the shake up to become the new Manchester United gaffer after the SAF hair-drier was switched off, which is status indeed (his glare does not quite match that of the aforementioned Moyes, the victor of that particular poison chalice). As it is, he finds himself at another red team in the North West, picking up the pieces of Rodgers ill-fated tenure.
How quickly the tide has turned – just two seasons ago, Liverpool, taking advantage of the Moyes Manchester meltdown, were so close to the title that their wonderful attacking football deserved, but it is abundantly clear, at least in this instant, that you cannot adequately replace quality (Luis Suarez) with quantity (Rickie Lambert, Mario Balotelli et al.) – at the end of last season, Suarez won the treble with Barcelona, while Liverpool lost 6-1 against Stoke and finished 6th. Ouch.
As for Sunderland, Dick Advocaat had worked minor miracles in keeping them in the big league last season and was more than warmly received as a result by the Mackem mob. In hindsight, it is of course easy to say he should have drawn the line as soon as Sunderland were safely above the relegation trapdoor with his objective met, but the lure of another season was too much and he at least initially strapped himself in for another rollercoaster ride. Alas, it has already proved too much, and despite one of their best displays of the season so far in the first-half of the game against West Ham, with his side racing into a two goal lead, he was to give a more than subtle hint in the post-match interview that he was about to do one.
The bigwigs of Sunderland perhaps had a word in David Gold’s shell like as Advocaat’s replacement was former hammer Allardyce. As is well documented by everyone, or at least those whose teams are teetering on the brink of the Championship abyss, the go to guys are either Tony ‘The Cap’ Pulis or Allardyce, both with a proven track record of kicking, screaming and long-throwing all the way to the safety of 12th place or thereabouts.
So what does all this managerial manoeuvring mean? Well, Klopps’ next match is a Saturday lunchtime away game at the current crisis club, Chelsea, bossed by calamity Jose, who can’t seem to stay away from the headlines these days (just how he likes it though, surely). The footballing world of Jose has been on a downward trajectory almost since the moment he had a pop at his medical staff for doing their job against Swansea on the opening day of the season. Mourinho’s mood shows no signs of improving this week, what with the misery of a midweek penalties defeat ‘on a cold and wet night in Stoke’, following hot on the heels of the latest league lose at Slaven Bilic’s unstoppable West Ham.
Considering his history of success with every team he has been involved with, it is almost incomprehensibly to think that Mourinho would face the same slap on the bonce as Sherwood this week, but with half of the league matches lost so far this season, the pressure is cranking up a notch with each passing game. Defeat at home to Klopp’s Kop Mop Tops, and Jose may be getting barred from the Bridge and the only way he could remain special will be to get a 4-pack of Special Brews from the Offy.
Allardyce, fresh from what must have been a more than satisfying victory over his former charges, Newcastle United, takes his Sunderland side to Everton, for a Sunday Merseyside lunchtime meeting, where he will be chanking away on as much Hubba Bubba as he can shove in his trap – welcome back Sam!
Finally, the rudderless Villa, in a sense of bitter-sweet soccer serendipity, find themselves travelling to North London for the Monday night showdown against none other than Sherwood’s other former paymasters, Tottenham Hotspur. He may want to cheer himself up listening to The Smiths instead of tuning in to this one.