David Pye: History tells us constant changes to managers do not help teams

CHRISTMAS is coming but it is not only the big man with the white beard who is concerned about the sack.

Football managers also face a stressful time wondering if they will be getting cards of a less festive nature as club chairman panic ahead of the January transfer window.

Seventeen of the 92 league managers in place at the beginning of this season have lost their job so far and we are only just into December – that is just under a fifth of clubs who have already succumbed to temptation of hitting the panic button.

This past weekend saw four lose their jobs after Saturday’s games – including former Wanderers boss Owen Coyle at Wigan and The Bolton News columnist David Flitcroft at Barnsley as seven departed in as many days.

But does it really get you anywhere? I suppose some of those chairmen who made the call to their managers last weekend could say yes after both Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley won in midweek.

However, one look at the tables of the four divisions might suggest otherwise.

At present the table-toppers are Arsenal, Leicester City, Leyton Orient and Oxford United and three of the four have managers in the top five longest-serving in all four leagues.

Arsene Wenger is the longest having been with the Gunners for 17 years, while Russell Slade is fifth having been at Orient for three seasons. In between, Oxford’s Chris Wilder – who has been linked with the vacant Portsmouth job – is third having been at the Kassam Stadium for five years.

You could even argue that Nigel Pearson should be included in the long-service list having only spent one season away from Leicester – at Hull – since 2008.

If Sir Alex Ferguson’s quarter of a century at Manchester United taught us anything, it’s that stability can bring success if there is patience and the likes of Wenger and Slade enhance that case.

If chairmen stand firm, they can reap the rewards. Of course, the money involved these days plays a huge part – the cost of relegation can sway opinions in the board room.

Then there are the supporters who demand immediate success. You only have to listen to the radio phone-ins on a Saturday evening heading home from the game and the majority of calls will be moans and groans.

I can understand the frustration when your team is on a bad run of results; we all pay a lot of money these days to watch our team – particularly if they are away at Middlesbrough.

But do constant changes of manager ever help any team? History tells us not.


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