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Talking Shop

Posted on 4 November 2001  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

THE MOST important appointment of any club, at any time, is the manager of the football team.

When chairman select managers they have had a habit of making a random appointments without thinking about what type of man they are really looking for to do the job.

Do they want an experienced man who has a reputation for handling players? Do they want someone who is very good on the training pitch? Do they want a manager who is charismatic?

The latter might apply if the chairman enjoys a low profile. By the same token, if a chairman has a high profile, he might wish to appoint a manager who will take a back seat in publicity matters.

The chairman profile in recent years has changed dramatically. Some chairmen now are taking very major roles. Many are working full-time at the clubs, or the PLCs and some are earning quite considerable salaries.

The League Managers' Association are quite right to draw attention to the fact that the instability of our system, coupled with the introduction of foreign coaches, has led to less opportunities for manager/coaches in this country.

However, it remains important that people with a view to becoming a coach or manager must train, must serve a proper apprenticeship and must get on the roundabout and even risk getting knocked off before it has completed one revolution.

There is nowhere near enough groundwork put into the selection process of modern day managers. And that is the first problem.

The casualty rate has, within the business, almost become seen as a tragic farce. Only last Monday, when Matty Etherington was about to depart to Bradford for a month, a 'grapevine phonecall' told me that Jim Jefferies, a friend of mine, was losing his job at Valley Parade.

Jim would've been the 20th to leave his job, a statistic that has since gone to Stockport's Andy Kilner. Within hours on the same day it was reported that Paul Jewell was leaving his post at Wigan, which, had it happened, would have made a round 21! This figure has now been reached with the departure of Andy Ritchie from Oldham.

When I left Sheffield Wednesday after 13 games I thought I was harshly treated, but the advancement in decision making, due to fear of relegation or thirst for success, has become even greater.

When Peter Shreeve left Wednesday recently I rang him and said it was Groundhog Day. We had a near identical record when I left five years ago and when he took over he won the next two games and was not given the job.

This season when he left the job, the new caretaker Terry Yorath took over and won the two games, just as then - and he also probably won't get the position either.

Look carefully, and notice that the managers leaving their posts are not the ones non-achieving near the top of the league, but the ones who are worrying supporters, and therefore their chairman, in the lower reaches of the divisions.

At this moment, Glenn Roeder has just reaped nine points out of nine with West Ham. So one assumes he will now be in favour for the next couple of weeks.

Just recently people were ringing these wicked phone-ins calling for his head.

What makes a good manager? The board of directors should recognise the ability of a potential manager from within the club. That should be their aim.

It was the aim of Graham Taylor many years ago when he identified people on his staff who he wanted to have the ambition to become future management material - whether at his club or elsewhere.

The cost of recruiting managers from outside is considerable in terms of compensation to the club the new man leaves and the departing manager.

That is why the importance of a football director on the board should be not only important, but listened to. This way, someone like John Rudge, who is very experienced, working at Stoke City or Gordon Milne at Newcastle, is able to put an independent, constructive view when the club runs into trouble on the field.

He is then able to give a dispassionate view of what type of man should be employed.

This is the question that has to be addressed before we start getting into any sort of dangerous talk such as that uttered by Sir Alex Ferguson in the Sunday papers.

Sir Alex is no longer on our LMA committee, so his was a personal view, and he said managers should withdraw their co-operation with the press until the fall-out rate of managers subsides.

Alex knows it's never been any different, just getting more fierce.

A manager's future should not be determined by whether he wins or loses his next few games, as I hear quoted nowadays. The ability of someone to handle a club should be based on proven track record and not on the basis of winning or losing a couple of games.

Patience is not only a virtue, it can also be worth quite a few points in the long run.