Alan Pardew escaped from the sack at Newcastle United and is set to move onto Selhurst Park. The fact he kept his job and then able to move on his own terms despite looking like a dead man walking was against the norm when managers are usually removed from their position at the first sign of poor form. Unusually we had to wait until just after Christmas for the first managerial casualty with Neil Warnock leaving Crystal Palace just four months into the job quickly followed by Alan Irvine just as short stay at West Brom. But what if managers were given time to turn it around like Pardew was? What if manager were given a permitted time in the season to save their job? What if there was a manager’s sacking window?
There were a number of reasons why Alan Pardew’s tenure at Newcastle United looked to have run its course before the surprise events this week. The sale of star man Johan Cabaye to PSG last January hit the team dynamics hard. From that point in the season results dropped off and the Magpies only picked up 12 points from the final 15 games of the season. This poor form continued at the start of this season with a campaign to force the former Southampton and West Ham manager out of his job. This came to a head prior to defeat at Stoke where Mike Ashley told a reporter if Pardew lost the next game he was out of a job, before saying it was a joke. Pardew wasn’t the most popular appointment when he replaced Chris Houghton in 2010 as some fans saw him as part of the so called “cockney Mafia” with Ashley running the club with Derek Llambias, and subsequently Joe Kinnear.
Despite all the pressure against him Pardew did hold onto his job. The poor form in the second half of last season was offset by an incredible start where it looked like Newcastle might challenge for a top four finish. Newcastle didn’t sign a replacement for Cabeye in January which was one of the reason for the drop in performances. Pardew couldn’t be held accountable for this as transfer are dealt with by the board at St James Park, presumably one of the reasons a relegation scrap with Crystal Palace was so appealing.
His relationship with the hierarchy may also be a saving grace as he was given an 8 year contract following a 5th place finish in 2011 with Newcastle looking for stability akin to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United with then Managing Director Llambias saying “”If you look at clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have shown that stability gives you the best platform to achieve success and that is the model we wish to emulate here. We’re looking to build on the success we had last season (following a fifth place finish) and these new contracts are aimed at keeping the club progressing on and off the pitch, as we have done since returning to the Premier League in 2010.”
To get rid of Pardew would have also meant a significant compensation payment, instead Mike Ashley was more than happy to accept the £2m compensation which he so easily have been handing to Pardew. Following the horrendous run of results performances did pick up and quite spectacularly with a run of 5 straight wins. When it looked like Pardew was going to stay no matter what the players dug in a created a siege mentality and stuck by the manager.
Pardew turned the corner and eventually created his own destiny when so many others would be shown the door, but what would be the pros of a transfer window for managers? It would certainly create stability at football clubs which in turn would promote the development of a long term view rather than looking for a quick upturn in results. It would also ease the financial burden on clubs having to pay compensation to the manager just sacked and to possibly bring in the new manager from another club. It would also reduce transfers and wages for new players requested by a new manager wanted to suit their style of play. In the long term it could potentially see more young players from the academies as managers aren’t under as much pressure for a short term fix.
With the current volatile nature of the job ex professionals are more reluctant to pursue a career in football management. This is at the loss of talented coaches who would succeed in the roles if they were given an extended time to show what they can do. Now with the numerous sports broadcasters it is much safer to turn to a career in the media.
In the case of Pardew he did find a solution to the poor run of results by adapting his style of play. It was also new players were settling into the club having been bought in over the summer. Younger players were also given an opportunity with Paul Dummett and Ayoze Perez becoming regulars in the side, as well as cameos from Rolando Aarons and Adam Armstrong.
If a window for managers was implemented to would have some negatives effects such as manager who are currently out of work wouldn’t been able to find employment until the next window. With more managers wanting opportunities the competition for openings would be fierce with some forced out of the game. It could be argued this was the case for David Moyes who would most likely be a potential replacement at a top Premier League club, however he has found employment in Spain with Real Sociedad.
Another problem may be a club on a poor run of form knowing the manager will be out of a job at the first available opportunity which may result in players losing respect. When the window comes around a lot of teams might move on their managers resulting in an extremely high turnover in a short space of time, resulting in a managerial merry go round. Arguably this has been the case in the past week with Crystal Palace and West Brom sacking their managers and Newcastle looking like they will have to find a replacement for Pardew. With no departures in the first four months of the season it looks like Palace were first to blink with West Brom potentially speeding up Alan Irvine’s departure as a direct consequence. Could there be any more casualties in the next few weeks?
If this idea was it come into fruition there would have to be measures to ensure managers were able to leave on their own terms but at the same time not be pressurised into resigning “which was best for all parties involved,” which could be argued is another way of dressing up a dismissal. As well as managers being protected clubs would also be able to dispense of a manager’s services if the said employee were to commit a sackable offence. Although head butted, pushing officials and verbally abusing opposing managers wasn’t crossing the line for Pardew at Newcastle. Perhaps a code of conduct for all managers should be agreed so behaviour could be improved and rules adhered to.
In theory the idea of a transfer window for managers appears a good idea as no one likes to see people sacked unnecessarily and it would also bring stability to clubs. However it would be hard to put into practice especially with the transfer window during January. A comprise solution may be to give managers 6 months at the start of their contract where they are unable to be sacked. At the start of their tenure they are just implementing new ideas so this system would ensure they are given that time to succeed and prove to the owners why they wanted to employ them in the first case. If the board can’t sack the manager then they have to work towards another solution rather than pass the buck to the next incumbent. It may also alleviate pressure from external sources such as the media and supporters.