Which Premier League manager will get fired first

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


I know enough's enough and you're leaving
You've had enough time to decide on your freedom
but I can still find some hope to believe in

Ipswich Town have announced the departure of Paul Jewell and a not a moment too soon if some of the message board postings are to be believed. His reign has seen no improvement with his win % narrowly lower than Roy Keane’s. Whilst Keane’s team drew too many matches by conceding late goals Jewell’s team has seen a continuation of his management form he showed at Derby and Sheffield Wednesday with neither the team or manager showing much drive or determination qualities which his predecessor had in abundance.

As their 3rd manager in 5 years leaves some serious consideration needs to be given not only to who the Ipswich board appoint but also to why as there needs to be some long-term strategy in place this time if they are not to tumble down the divisions. Bolton have solved their managerial problems by pinching Crystal Palace’s boss. As Blackburn start to do a Middlesbrough and slip down the championship after forcing the manager out when they are in the top 3 the Ipswich board could do worse than look at how Blackburn have operated recently and do the complete opposite.

There are 3 real strategies they can follow and they are a firefighter, old head or up and comer. Given they are in relegation trouble they could hire someone with a track record of keeping teams up but then what do you do after they have. Managers of this type rarely manage to drive their teams up the table and generally you get mid-table mediocrity at best.

An old head can be good but also stuck in their ways and unless they are proven at getting teams out of the Championship you again get mid-table mediocrity and there are high expectations at Ipswich born out of the Bobby Robson era that the club belong in the top flight not the second tier.

An up and coming manager could well be the answer but that is where the choices become difficult as some who have been successful in the lower reaches struggle as they move up the leagues with Paul Ince and Darren Ferguson being examples of where they have done well in Leagues 1 & 2 but struggled in the Championship (or Premier League in Ince’s case).

So who can they look to appoint? Here is my guide to the best runners and riders: -

Old Heads

Alan Curbishley
A great manager with a proven track record but hasn’t worked since 2008 and while he has a good tactical brain and motivational skills does he really still have the hunger to take on a new challenge. I think he finds the pundits sofa too comfortable and will stay there.

Mick McCarthy
Has proved that he can get teams to the Premier League although keeping them there has proved challenging. He has a lot of experience and is able to get players to adapt to the physical demands of the league. His main weakness is his less than media friendly voice and that his tactics can be a little bit one-dimensional. He is a strong contender though.

Phil Brown
Has had previous success keeping a team up and then winning promotion to the Premier League with Hull but this has been an isolated success with mediocre spells at Preston and Derby. Can be a good motivator but has also made high-profile mistakes such as his on-pitch team talk and singing of Sloop John B. Could do well but could just as easily do badly would be a risky choice for both clubs.
Ronnie Moore
A solid and experienced manager who has Tranmere moving in the right direction after struggling under Les Parry. He guided Rotherham to the Championship but has never managed above that level. Could be an excellent choice.

Up and Coming Managers

Paulo Di Canio
Has won promotion with Swindon Town and is an enthusiastic and energetic manager with the ability to motivate his players and a good tactical awareness. He is however a volatile character who is critical of players and board members who don’t share his vision for the club. Constantly linked with other clubs at the moment I don’t think his outspoken manner would go down well with the owner.

Michael Appleton
Has been doing a solid job with Portsmouth and it would be interesting to see how well he could do at a club who can sign players for longer than a month at a time. Operating under serious financial and operational constraints at Pompey. Ipswich and Palace could do well to appoint him.

Steve Davis
Won promotion with Crewe last season but there is a question over whether it his team or Dario Gradi’s that he won that with. Has a conveyor belt of youth due to Gradi’s excellent academy set up but is unproven at dealing with experienced professionals. Had a good management spell at Nantwich Town but Crewe is his first major management role. Would be a big risk not just for Ipswich but for him as the set up at Crewe means he gets a lot of support from Gradi.

Owen Coyle
Notable for his success at Burnley he has proved anything but that at Bolton Wanderers leading them to replace him with Crystal Palace’s Dougie Freedman. His early career at Falkirk and St Johnstone was positive but he has not done anything to indicate that he can handle the demands of a high-profile club with a demanding fan-base and whilst regarded as being tactically innovative he may struggle to replicate the success he had at Burnley which could well be his next destination.

Some assistant managers at other clubs such as Graeme Jones, Billy McKinlay and Tim Sherwood could prove interesting but risky choices as a replacement but are well regarded coaches and would at least bring something newer than the usual merry-go-round of failure. The Ipswich Town job is in my opinion one that managers should be queuing up to apply for as it is a well-run club, financially stable with a strong regional fan base and if Alan Shearer decides to give up the MOTD settee would be a better option than Blackburn Rovers.

Mick McCarthy is probably the best choice of them all but Appleton or Shearer could be good options but I expect either McCarthy or Owen Coyle to be appointed when the dust settles.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

New York City Boy

New York City Boy  
You feel the deal is real
You're a New York City boy
So young, so run
into New York City

At just after 2am British time a serve return hit slightly long by Novak Djokovic gave us the moment we had been waiting for since the 2009 US Open Final should us the potential of a skinny kid from Dunblane the opportunity to say British Grand Slam Final without using the words Fred Perry and 1936. That it should happen on the 76th anniversary of Perry’s last win (which was also at the US Open) and in in his fifth Grand Slam final (the same amount that it look his coach Ivan Lendl to win won) can be seen as nothing less than synergy, fate, destiny call it what you will. It was harder to see which emotion was the more prevalent, relief or joy, as he collected the Championship trophy with the accompanying $1.9M cheque secondary to what it represented.

Many, including myself, say Federer’s insistence that Murray’s loss at Wimbledon would make him a stronger player as an encouraging but mainly empty platitude but his turned out to be very much the case. Murray crushed Federer at the Olympics and held off Djokovic when the momentum seemed to be swinging very much in the favour of the Serbian. The statistics bore witness to exactly how close the game was. The score of 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 barely told the story of a match 4 ¾ hours long with both players winning over 155 points each and 25 games each. This was an epic tale of endurance mocking the modern footballer who is unable to play 2 matches of 90 minutes a week with Murray and Djokovic playing almost double that time 3 times a week during the tournament

Murray fully deserves the congratulations and praise that has come his way after 2 outstanding tournament wins this summer with the second capping off a magnificent summer of sport. He may even take home a 3rd when the SPOTY award comes up in November although he will face stiff competition from Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah and it may be that his quiet public demeanour will lose him that one although one suspects that Ivan Lendl may not be too displeased with that.

The challenge for Murray is building on this win to secure the other 3 Grand Slams during his career which will not be easy. Djokovic and Federer will want revenge and Nadal will surely have some impact on Murray’s ability to become World No. 1 when he finally returns from injury. Andy will need to repeat this level of skill and endurance on a regular basis given that he and Djokovic are the same age and within 1 ranking place of each other theirs is a rivalry that has several years and one suspects some outstanding games ahead.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


This is the moment, we’ll remember, Every day for the rest of our lives
Time may rush us, hurt or love us, but on this day we have arrived

I’ve been a loser, I’ve paid my dues
I fought my way up from the ground
Now at this moment the crowd acclaim us
Will you just listen to that song

Looking back on all the times we felt downcast
Didn’t think we were going anywhere just living in the past
But in that desperation you get inspiration

You’re a winner, I’m a winner
This is all happening so fast
You’re a winner, I’m a winner
Let’s enjoy it all while it lasts

No doubt inspired by the pre-Tennis music on Henman Hill Andy Murray thrashed Roger Federer to claim an Olympic gold medal, his demeanour in stark contrast to the dejected and emotional figure that he cut just 4 weeks ago.  At the time Federer said that the pain of losing matches like that makes you stronger and he was proved right as Murray dished out a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 straight sets defeat that no-one can honestly say they expected.

Andy has not been the only one rto realise their hopes of medals on home soil with some magnificent individual performances by Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins backed up by team victories in Equestrian, Rowing and most impressively Cycling.  The manner in which the womens team pursit trio broke their won world record 6 times in a row was unquestionably one of the most impressive performances the sport has ever seen with some countries reduced to complaining that Team GB put their wheels away when they have finished using them (the cycling equivalent of he took his ball in with him).

The Olympics as a sporting spectacle has been fantastic and if we forget about the Olympic lanes and rampant commercialism, security fiasco, strikes and ticketing mistakes it went pretty well.  Unfortunately being Britain we had all of those but have managed to create a fantastic celebration of a diverse range of sports including shooting, martial arts, beach volleyball, handball and gymnastics with Tema GB picking up a haul of medals the Aussies and French can only gaze at with undisguised envy.

Sadly Team GB's mens football team weren't listening to the Pet Shop Boys Olympic anthem (well it should have been as the Muse one is dreadful) and kept up the usual English habit of losing a quarter final on penalties. A feat made worse as they had 2 penalties in normal time and missed the second that would have won the game.  Why Aaron Ramsey took it instead of Giggs I am at a loss to explain but Team GB were as devoid of ideas against South Korea as England were against Italy in the European Championships and one kept wondering if only there was a big centre-forward like Andy Carroll up front and someone actually capable of crossing the ball to him in the team.  The absence of David Beckham or at least someone who can cross the ball and take set-pieces to the same standard has been highlighted by this summers 2 major football tournaments and until that changes we aren't going to make much progress in Brazil in 2014.

Still the new football season is upon us with the transfer market remarkably quiet with only Chelsea and Arsenal making any major additions to their squads in what appears to be is going to be a last-minute runaround to get new players in.  A lot of teams need major strengthening Newcastle need defenders, Sunderland need 2 strikers, a midfielder and 2 defenders, Tottenham need 2 strikers and Manchester United still need a replacement for Roy Keane since Owen Hargreaves lacked longevity.

Anyway here are  my predictions for this years Winners: -

Premier League - Manchester United
If they get Van Persie with the return of Vidic and possibly Darren Fletcher then they have an excellent chance of a 20th title.

Champions League places - Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal
FA Cup - Tottenham Hotspur
League Cup - Newcastle United
Champions League - Real Madrid

Relegated - West Ham United, Wigan Athletic, Reading

Championship  -
Promoted - Leeds United, Huddersfield Town, Birmingham City
Relegated - Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers

League 1
Promoted - Sheffield United, MK Dons, Swindon Town
Relegated - Crawley Town, Tranmere Rovers, Yeovil Town, Walsall

League 2
Promoted - Rochdale, Southend United, Fleetwood Town
Relegated - Dagenham and Redbridge, Morecambe

Naturally most of these will be wrong but it will be fun to see how it goes and as long as the top prediction is right and Southend go up I don't mid if the rest are a load of rubbish.

Just remember

You’re a winner, I’m a winner
Let’s enjoy it all while it lasts