The Last Word: Hire and fire's new maxim – desperation

Arsenal's Herbert Chapman wouldn't have stood a chance on today's managerial merry-go-round

Arsenal Football Club is open to receive applications for the position of TEAM MANAGER. He must be experienced and possess the highest qualifications for the post, both as to ability and personal character. Gentlemen whose sole ability to build up a good side depends on the payment of heavy and exorbitant transfer fees need not apply.

The advertisement, placed on page eight of the Athletic News on Monday 11 May 1925, attracted the Huddersfield Town manager, Herbert Chapman. He doubled his money to £2,000 a year, and promptly turned a blind eye to illegal payments which allowed him to sign Charles Buchan, his captain and pivotal player.

Sir Henry Norris, Arsenal's autocratic chairman, was banned for that inelegant indiscretion. Despite the strictures of the job description, Chapman broke the British transfer record for David Jack. He gave a waiter £2 to intoxicate the Bolton directors during negotiations, so he was able to beat them down from £13,000 to £10,890. Done up like a kipper, to use Harry Redknapp's immortal phrase.

Chapman's premature death from pneumonia, aged 55, in 1934 embellished his legend. Having led Arsenal to two League championships and an FA Cup, he did not live to see his team amass four titles in five years, but his visionary application of dietary science, physical fitness and tactical innovation endures. His bronze bust was the focal point of the marble entrance hall at Highbury, and a new statue stands, longingly, outside the Emirates.

The more things change, the more things stay the same. A winning manager writes his own history. He is indulged, excused, lionised. He develops tight professional networks which demand discretion, pragmatism and unconditional loyalty. Victory is the ultimate PR policy.

Paolo Di Canio could survive exposure as Shirley, a cross-dressing cocktail waitress in the Bigg Market, if he wins at Chelsea today and drags Newcastle into the relegation scuffle by winning the Tyne-Wear derby next weekend. In truth, his peers doubt this is possible. His appointment has fractured the fraternity.

This has nothing to do with distaste for Di Canio's political views, or alarm at Sunderland's inconceivable naïvety. In the words of one former Premier League manager, who admits he is on "autopilot" waiting for another opportunity, at any level in the game: "Just tell me what he has done?"

Desperation is reaching epidemic levels. Agents are weaving increasingly absurd tales as they seek to link their clients to vacancies. Certain managers are becoming notorious for ensuring they are linked with jobs they have no chance of securing. Vulture Row, seats at games involving troubled clubs that are occupied by unemployed managers, is full to overflowing.

There is a compensation culture because of the ephemeral nature of the role. The majority of managers are not trusted to manage. They are babysitters, like Roberto Di Matteo, human shields, like Rafa Benitez, or symbols of desperation, like Di Canio.

In a sane world, the League Managers' Association would act as a clearing house and prevent headhunting firms pitching for business, as they have done during the black comedy of regime change at Sunderland. That will never happen, because of tribal loyalties and football's nod and a wink culture.

Tellingly, for a profession which demands respect, such respect is not reciprocal. Nigel Adkins's poignantly timed plea for managers not to poach colleagues' jobs will be subtly, but studiously, ignored. The profession moves to the rhythm of boom and bust.

A minority are permitted to progress sensibly and incrementally: David Moyes, at Everton; Kenny Jackett, at FA Cup semi-finalists Millwall; and Paul Tisdale at League Two promotion candidates Exeter City.

But the rest is froth and nonsense. Chapman wouldn't have survived the media firestorm of a payments scandal in the modern game, where Chelsea supporters wear Jose Mourinho masks and chairmen such as Southampton's Nicola Cortese bristle with misplaced machismo.

Football clubs gets the leadership they deserve.

Goodbye Draper – new balls please

Coventry is self-pity city this weekend. The football club are imploding and the Ricoh Arena, the cause of most of their problems, is staging the bleak ritual of a British Davis Cup tie, this time against Russia.

The script of expensive underachievement is tiresomely familiar. The principal characters, defeatist and self-absorbed, are caricatures of professional athletes.

Only the names change. James Ward blew a two-set lead in the grand style. Dan Evans was sufficiently emboldened by dejection to concede he neither trained, nor cared, enough to fulfil his natural talent.

Underlying problems endure. There is no unity, strategy or sense of accountability. Presiding over this mess is Roger Draper, who has never deigned to offer a cogent explanation as to why he should earn £640,000 a year as chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association.

He steps down in September, which is approximately five years too late and begs the question of why he was allowed to build an empire which employs 315 and has swallowed nearly £500 million since he took over in 2006. On his watch, tennis has regressed to the point where it eclipses football as the worst-run sport in Britain. He will not be missed.

Sex changes

Olympic cycling champion Marianne Vos was kissed by a podium boy when she won the Ronde van Drenthe race in the Netherlands. It was one small step for man, one giant leap for womankind. Perhaps now we can be grown-up and question the point of motorsport pit babes, cycling race queens and boxing bimbettes.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album