Choosing a Manager on More Than Hope and Faith

By Robin Cannon 12/04/2016  0 Comments  [Jump to last]
It looks like we're already talking about the next manager as if it's a done deal. I hope it is, and that we'll be starting next season with a new man at the helm. I've reached a point of...not even anger at this point...sheer apathy at how poor we are and how much we're underachieving under Martinez.

And yet...

Look, we have no idea if any manager we hire is going to be any good.

I've seen arguments for the likes of Eddie Howe with follow up comments that he's not good enough and we need someone "proven". Yet how many "proven" managers succeed at their next club?

Or the argument that "we shouldn't hire someone based on one season of success"...a good description of Mauricio Pochettino.

Likewise I've seen calls for Mauro Pellegrini or Marcelo Bielsa, or Guus Hiddink. "Too old", "not a long term appointment".

Or the cry for Mourinho...were he to come...and yet with a demand for attractive football (which is kinda why Abramovich fired him first time round) and long term success (for a man criticized for being "three seasons and done").

As Tony Packwood outlines very clearly in What Makes A Good Manager we can look for the right qualities. But nobody really knows whether any specific manager is going to be successful when they hire him. Every suggestion of particular individual is subjective.

There are a few managers who might be considered "the best". Guardiola, Simeone, you would frankly have classed Klopp in that group before the shite hired him...who else? Who among the managers considered seriously the best in the world is available and gettable for us? Probably of the most well considered managers in Europe, Unai Emery is the most likely of those we could hire. And then you're looking at someone who's never managed in England (but who clearly has a desire to manage here).

What I'd like to see us do is be radical, but strategic, in our approach. I care less about who we hire, and more about how we hire them.

The most successful manager we've hired since HK #1 was the most radical hire we've made; David Moyes. Never managed in the top flight, young, inexperienced...and while for me he grew far too conservative in his later years, made a massive difference to how we're viewed.

But the safe hires haven't worked; Harvey, Walter Smith. And the most recent, and on the surface a legitimately risk taking hire, Martinez, has also failed.

Managers hired without a wider strategy for what the club is going to achieve will, regardless of ability, likely fail. We, relatively wealthy, relatively secure in the Premier League, with potential to do much more, are not going to attract a world great but we might attract a potential great. And it will be a risk to hire them.

What would I do? Hire Bielsa and have him groom one of the selection of promising coaches we have at the various levels in the club to be his successor in 2-3 years. Failing that, Unai Emery...who after talking with West Ham last season is clearly interested in managing in the Premier League and gettable for our profile.

And either of those choices might go massively wrong.

But I would prefer for us to go massively wrong while making a considered choice, based on a long term strategy that's willing to take risks, and clear criteria for what we want from a manager. Rather than a "safe" option who might be less likely to blow up in our faces but is never likely to explode to success.

Your opinion is subjective. My opinion is subjective. The only objective demand is how we hire; not based on mood, not based on popularity, but based on potential, genuine strategy and plan for our direction.

It frankly never feels like we've ever done that in the four decades I've watched us. We've hired on hope and faith and little else. If Moshiri is pulling the stings now, and can change anything, I hope it's that.

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