clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Across the Pond: When do you fire a manager?

New, 1 comment

How do the sack-happy English compare to manager-steady Americans?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at LA Galaxy Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Some of you may have noticed this by now but I am actually an Englishman and I'd like to take this time to clarify a few things:

  1. It's "Sweets", "Jumper", "Mobile Phone", "Trousers", "Car Park", "Pavement" and "Holiday".
  2. Please don't send us back Piers Morgan or James Corden.
  3. We have no idea how to properly build a coaching staff when it comes to Football (not Soccer!)

Building on that last one, it's a well known issue in English Football that we have no patience when it comes to managerial failings. Of the 20 managers in the EPL, Arséne Wenger is king at 20 years, but the next highest from him is Eddie Howe with 4 years at Bournemouth — and they only joined the Premier League in 2016. In total, 8 Premier League managers have been in their jobs for longer than a year with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all have a manager with less than a year with the team.

And yet, the cries for José Mourinho to be removed as manager at Manchester United don't phase me. He's had 307 days in charge and his spent millions of pounds to build a squad to last the next 5 years and yet there are season ticket holders now wanting to pay out his multi million pound contract because they've not achieved greatness in the first season. This is the English mentality when it comes to football. Spend money, buy the best players and they will just win because they are the best, ignoring squad chemistry, tactical prowess and form at almost every occasion. People claimed Manchester City "bought the league" in their historic 2011-2012 season but the fact is that was the third year Roberto Mancini was in charge with a squad he built over that time.

To give you a better view, I'm a Leeds United fan in the English Championship. Our club was taken over by Italian business man Massimo Cellino, known as "Il mangia-allenatori, The Manager Eater", in 2014 Since then, we have had 8 managers, most shockingly between July and October 2014 where we had 3 changes.

This is why, to me, the MLS model is superior and I mean no hyperbole when I say that. From top to bottom MLS is a league that people should be trying to emulate as much as possible. All but 6 coaches in MLS have been there at least one full year (excluding expansion teams Minnesota and Atlanta) and each team has been given time to breath, time to grown and be built into something that can provide success. There's a reason why the MLS cup has been one by a variety of teams while the EPL Title still remains an elitist club apart from a couple of underdogs.

Which brings us to Real Salt Lake and our last two weeks of news. A head coach fired after 3 games in the regular season putting a 50.8 percent win rate and years of history in the archives and a new coach who's last MLS job had him fired after delivering an MLS Supporters Shield.

I never got why Petke was fired. He was a successful coach with the backing of fans and players alike and had taken NYRB's into the top level of MLS even without winning the cup. It was only a few nights ago that it dawned on me I was thinking in English football terms. Petke was let go by the club in the off season, right before the 2015 MLS campaign started. He'd taken the team in one direction when he was hired in 2013 and the owners decided they wanted to go in a new direction this season. Relegation isn't something MLS teams need to worry about and finishing last nets you the first draft pick in the new draft (not much comfort but when the quality of player coming from the draft is the highest it's ever been it's not nothing) so removing a coach when you're out of play off contention isn't going to do anything. When the off season comes the mechanics of the league creates a parity and your team can go from bottom of the pile to play off contenders overnight (looking at you, 2016 Colorado Rapids).

MLS rewards patience, rewards building a system and a squad where the sum total is more valuable than the parts in the same way all American sports do which is what makes them so exciting. Relegation kills a team as fan numbers drop off with ease and removing a popular manager can be just as devastating to a club.

Which is why a lot of us are still puzzled about the choice to have Cassar get an extension on his contract only to be removed 3 games in. Nobody was pleased with the way our 2016 campaign ended, not even Jeff himself so not renewing his contract and bringing in a new coach seemed to be the best bet.

When news broke of his contract renewal and the conditions on his extension it seemed like Craig Waibel was laying the gauntlet down: You've got one season to do something and we will review it then. Cassar and co made bold moves to build a squad with club legend Javier Morales leaving and Young DP Albert Rusnák signing in a rare cash splashing moment. All in all, there were no indications about Cassar having this kind of limited time. unless you count Mike Petke being brought in for the Monarch as a man in waiting (which I did).

Now that the press conference is done, whatever happened in the three months between Cassar having his extension and him being removed will be a mystery and Waibel has said there was no smoking gun here. Questions like "Why give him an extension when you weren't happy with him" or "Why make a move only 3 games in with up to 10 of our first team players missing" won't be answered. The hiring of Mike Petke is a move that has made the fans very happy and all I can hope is that Real Salt Lake show him the kind of loyalty Cassar got in his time with us rather than what happened in New York.