Managerial contracts are a complete waste of time!

by Edward Watson

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Already this season there have been two sackings, two resignations and two departures by mutual consent in the Football League alone, including two ex-England managers; Steve McClaren and most recently Sven Goran-Eriksson.

Following numerous reports of the costs of sacking a manager in the press recently you would have thought club owners would think twice about sending their current choice on their way.

It seems somewhat ironic that quite often departure is virtually guaranteed following a board’s vote of confidence in a manager. Too many times do clubs owners follow this seemingly unnecessary and strangely misleading procedure, suggesting they are as incompetent in charge as their failing manager.

It has happened multiple times in the lower leagues this season and I can almost guarantee it will happen in the Football League as well.

However, I was still a little shocked to find out this morning that Darlington manager Mark Cooper had been dismissed despite it being a perfect example of what’s written above.

The reason it caught my eye is because I recently saw Darlington play in their home game with Kidderminster Harriers on October 15th. With this being a rather long journey for an away fan I took the time to read the entire match day programme.

Located on page seven was that weeks thoughts of the chairman, Raj Singh. Within this page of what now turns out to be rubbish he made it crystal clear that he’d considered a change in management but “a change now is not the answer.”

He goes on to mention that “you tend to find the clubs who enjoy success have backed their manager through rough patches” before urging fans to get behind Cooper and concluding that “a kneejerk reaction is not the answer”. He even goes on to compare the situation to that of Steve McClaren and Nottingham Forest and how that hasn’t worked out for them.

So, here we are ten days, three games and one win later and Cooper becomes the latest managerial tragedy of 2011, sacked by a chairman who less than a fortnight ago gave him his full backing.

Singh acknowledges that he gave Cooper his support two weeks ago on the clubs website and insists he and Cooper separate on good terms, but there’s a part of me that can’t help think that Mark Cooper feels somewhat bitter that the time he was assured he would be given by the chairman lasted a miserable nine days.

So I ask, as a confused football fan, how important really is a managerial contract? Seemingly for the majority of clubs it really is meaningless.

Perhaps a better system for those types of chairman would be to simply only offer out rolling contracts. That way it skips the whole process of cancelling a contract and thus would save the club some serious money which could be better invested in a new manager or players.

Of course, this would be somewhat unpopular within the managerial world, however at least they know where they stand. There really is no need to offer a two year contract when you’re only going to sack him six months later.

For now it seems that for most clubs this absurd cycle of impatience and incompetence will continue, with chairman turning on their word and expecting instant results from the next man destined to imminent failure.

If Leicester can find a better man for the job than Sven, or Forest can better Billy Davies than perhaps the millions they wasted on replacements and compensation may have been worth it. But for now it looks like two boards desperate pleas for success and having no idea how to find it.

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