Ian Holloway: We get the sack because chairmen don't really know about the game
Some of them have egos so big they can't cope. That is when managers get the boot
Sunday 19 February 2012
It looks like the silly season is here again, with managers getting the chop all over the place. I feel sorry for Mick McCarthy, I am baffled by Lee Clark's exit from Huddersfield, and I'm still stunned that Leeds sacked Simon Grayson. And with Roman Abramovic's track record you have to fear for Andre Villas-Boas.
It is all madness but that's what you get when you have chairmen who don't really know much about the game.
Let's take the average owner. He has made his money in a different business. He buys a club simply as a hobby, something to show off really. Football isn't his area of expertise, he is out of his comfort zone.
But he starts to take an interest, becomes a fan and has an opinion. So it must be really hard to employ someone and have him tell you: "we're doing it wrong, we need to do it this way". Some chairmen have egos so big they can't cope – and that is when we get the boot.
To stand any chance of things working long-term, chairman and manager need to genuinely get on from the start.
I knew straightaway I would be alright at Blackpool. For my job interview, I was told to get to a posh hotel in Preston at 3pm. So I'm sat there all smart in my suit and tie but no one arrives.
About 25 minutes later, this bloke – who is now my chairman, Karl Oyston – strolls in wearing his scruffs and strides up to me. First words I said to him were: "what time do you call this?" Then I had a go at him for not wearing a tie. He said he'd worn one the previous day, so I took mine off and virtually threw it at him.
Then I said: "I suppose I'd better order the coffee because I've heard you're a right tight so and so."
That was how we started, but fortunately he liked the fact that I had enough about me to give him as good as he got and he gave me the job.
It doesn't always work, mind. In the year after I was sacked by Leicester, I had four interviews and was unsuccessful in them all.
An interview for a manager's job is the same as in any other line of work really. You do your homework and find out about the owner – what he is like, what he wants long-term – and research the players in the squad. You draw up some plans and ideas, then you have a chat and see if you click.
You also need an agent to put your name in the frame in the first place, although that nearly cost me my chance at Blackpool. The chairman didn't like my agent so he rang and left a message saying: "all the best but I'm not interviewing you".
I rang him back and said: "why the hell not?" Again he liked my directness and I managed to wangle myself an audience.
There are never any guarantees, of course. It can all go pear-shaped for a variety of reasons. But all you really ask for as a manager is some common sense and a bit of leeway.
I'll never forget Martin Edwards, the chairman of Manchester United back in the Eighties, doing an interview after Sir Alex Ferguson had failed to win a trophy in his first three years at the club.
Edwards said he liked what the manager was doing behind the scenes, improving the youth structure and the set-up, and he was sticking with him. Not a bad decision.
It shows how important stability is and it might be something for Abramovic to bear in mind before he does anything too hasty about AVB.
Poor Arsène needs help from above
Milan might have battered Arsenal last week but don't start whining about the death of English football. I don't buy it. It is just one of those years, simple as.
The reason there is such a fuss about our performances in the Champions' League is because it is so unexpected. We've got so used to seeing our lads dominate that we've become a little blasé.
Our Premier League remains the strongest in the world, no doubt about that. But there are a lot of good clubs and world-class players in Europe and this year they've caught out the likes of Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs.
It doesn't mean there is some sort of decline of standards in our game. I think we saw that from the performances of City and United against two good teams in the Europa League.
The only English club that youcan say with any certainty are struggling a little is Arsenal, but I wouldn't lay the blame for that at Arsène Wenger's door.
The board's strict policy on wages is hurting them massively and until they increase the budget they are going to struggle to attract the best players. The same goes for keeping them. Samir Nasri could hardly wait to get to City last summer and that was all down to cash.
Wenger needs help from above. Until that happens, he faces an uphill battle to keep everything going. But anyone who suggests a change of manager is required is mad. Arsène is a legend and there is no one better equipped to lead the club back to the very top.
But he can't do it without proper backing from the board.
I'll go down on my knees and beg: don't bring back plastic pitches
Back in the Eighties I played on a plastic pitch at Oldham's Boundary Park. The first time I went in for a sliding tackle it took all the skin off my knees. I've still got the scar now.
It stuns me that there is talk of bringing them back. I know they've improved but football is meant to be played on grass. You wouldn't hold a golf tournament on an artificial course, would you?
I hear the argument about lower-league clubs being able to earn revenue from an artificial pitch in the local community. But have one at your training ground if that's the case. Why has it got to be your main pitch?
And what happens to groundsmen? Are they out of work? It is a complete no-go for me and when the matter was discussed at a Football League board meeting on Thursday, I hope my chairman was against it.
Carlos in the dog house
It almost sickens me to see Carlos Tevez waltzing back to England, all suntanned and grinning, as if he's just come back from his holidays. Then the lad gives an interview the day before he returns saying his manager treated him like a dog. Is this fella for real?
It's a good job he earns his money with his feet because there can't be that much up top if that's what he thinks.
It pained me to see Roberto Mancini having to waste time defending himself against Tevez's comments when there is only one person at fault.
Keep Celtic north of the border
I have all the sympathy in the world for Rangers fans but not the club itself. I don't care how big you are, if you don't abide by the rules and pay your taxes, you deserve all you get.
This is one hell of a dark time for Scottish football. What mustn't happen is Celtic being allowed to join our league. The Scottish league would die. I am vehemently against it, for the sake of every other club in Scotland.
Downsizing without the snake
Blackpool might be flying – 10 games unbeaten and fourth in the table; I may as well get a plug in while it's going well – but the last fortnight was probably the most stressful of my life.
We have had to move house, but bearing in mind we own chickens, horses, dogs, even a snake, it has been like a military operation.
The lease on a sprawling property we rented near Burnley has ended, and our children – who are all grown up now – decided they wanted to move back to our family home in Bath.
So we've sent them down south, with all the animals, and my wife Kim and I have rented a tiny place in Lancashire. I'm not kidding, it isn't even a two up, two down. There's one room upstairs.
We've gone from having 26 cupboards in our last place to having two. It is the smallest place I've lived in for years. But we're enjoying it. It's nice and cosy, perfect for the two of us.
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