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A peek into a Managerial Melee

The ushering in of Robin van Persie at Manchester United at the beginning of the 2012-13 season of the Barclays Premier League seemed to many as the trumpet call for a refreshing, much awaited wave of fresh players at The Emirates. An able, charismatic replacement was needed, and the midfield in general needed substantial bolstering. As always, the platoon of the Arsenal faithful were behind their evergreen General.

And he bought three players that transfer window.

Mark Hughes, then at Queens Park Rangers was fervently leaving not one stone unturned in his quest to alleviate his club from a morbid season. He was of the impression that a rabid intake of new players of diverse nature would turn the fortunes of his faltering side for the better.

Oh just how wrong he was…

A peek into a Managerial Melee

20 year old Belgian Kevin De Bruyne impressed Chelsea when Genk clashed with the Stamford Bridge outfit in late 2011. He was impressive enough for Chelsea to seek his signature. In the recent past, Chelsea have been a side with equally heavy bags of talent and money. So this was an easy purchase for them, and they secured his services in January 2012. He finished that season on loan at Genk. A precocious teenager of enviable shot power and excellent dribbling ability, he was seen as a compelling force. But the Chelsea squad was already teeming with talents galore, and De Bruyne found himself biding his time at the sidelines and eventually found himself out on loan to Werder Bremen. Enter Jose Mourinho, at the beginning of the 2013-14 season. . The game time he found at Chelsea was close to non-existent. The January transfer window of 2014 promptly saw him offloaded to Wolfsburg.

Was this a simple case that saw excess goods being offloaded? Or was this one of those cases wherein a manager quenches an irresistible craving to affix an indelible stamp of authority on club proceedings?

When a club ropes in a new manager, they have certain expectations. Whatever the expectations, it will bode well for the longevity of the manager if he at least meets those expectations within a given framework of time. Now if he falls short of them, a stick is dangled in front of him, leering at him, and taunting him for his shortcomings. Patient clubs support their faltering manager, hoping that he will see the club through the storm.

But not all clubs are patient, are they?

Andre Villas Boas wasn’t given enough time to settle down at Chelsea. The now unemployed Portuguese was never able to show the English crowd his true mettle, as his tenure at Spurs came to a premature, tame end.

Whatever the case, whenever a club gets itself a new manager, he brings in new signings. Players that he deems to be suitable for the club (sometimes, favoritism garners substantial leverage). Also, he bids farewell to a few existing players, whom he doesn’t consider as worthy of shaping the club’s future. An ill-flavored side effect of such actions is the dip in team chemistry. The new players will take time to get acclimatized to the new conditions. There may be a lag phase in their performance. On the other hand, ­some may click immediately, but their form may dip, so deep that they may never see the light of cracking form again. And the existing players may feel rattled by the influx of new talent.

Now if this is the case of a club that has a stable standing in the league, the rushing influx of new players has but little effect, as the overall performance or the individual brilliance of the players tends to bail them out of seemingly untenable situations.

But what of clubs like QPR?

The beginning of the 2012-13 season saw as many as eleven new shirts in the dressing room. Did Hughes think of the disheveling effect that such wholesome shopping would have on his team? Even if he had, it looks like he didn’t think that it would amount to much. It all boiled down to a team overwhelmed with new players falling ridiculously short of expectations, and falling heavily to the lower tier. And then in came a new manager, Harry Redknapp. What was he to do with such an unbalanced squad? He may or may not have been comfortable with the recently acquired personnel. And naturally, he would want to bring in some new ones too! So what of the plight of the already obscenely low team chemistry?

Vultures circle greedily around these realms. Necessarily and urgently, there is a need to attend to these issues.

When a new manager settles in at a club, his purse strings can be constrained, so that he doesn’t end up having excess luggage. This may work, even accounting for his approaches akin to a horse with blinders. Alternatively, a policy can be introduced wherein a manger has to stay at a club for two years. After two years, his fate can be up for discussion. But compulsorily, his plight must be one without doubt for two years. If such a policy is put in practice, the manager can work with confidence; he need not look over his back constantly, ever entertaining fears of his job being snatched away from him. At the same time, he will know that he has a deadline to meet, so he won’t become lax. Also, the new players that he brings in will have time to settle down. The manager will have abundant time to gel the players on the team, and create a working outfit.

The theoretical advantages of such a policy seem aplenty, and satisfying. But the practical facets seem to be quite in the dark. Some clubs may be hesitant to invest in a manager unconditionally, be it even for two years. A host of other problems may greet such a policy. Nevertheless, this is a topic direly in need of looking into.

So what do you think?

This was a guest piece by @kingdrakarthik


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