Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The not so merry-go-round

A couple of different takes on Gus MacPherson's departure from St Mirren:

Manager's have a shelf life and need to move on, or be moved on, when it becomes clear that the club is no longer moving forward.

Or:

By getting them to the SPL, keeping them there and throwing in a cup final for good measure, MacPherson had done a decent job in tricky circumstances.

I'm not sure. Sometimes maybe we're too keen to blanket management, and the exponents of the managerial art, with a theory about what makes a "good manager."

Different clubs require different things. But maybe we are too quick to chop and change.

Look at the 12 SPL clubs on the final day of last season:

Rangers: Walter Smith
Celtic: Gordon Strachan
Hearts: Csaba Lazlo
Aberdeen: Jimmy Calderwood
Dundee United: Craig Levein
Hibs: Mixu Paatalainen
Motherwell: Mark McGhee
Kilmarnock: Jim Jefferies
Hamilton: Billy Reid
Falkirk: John Hughes
St Mirren: Gus MacPherson
St Johnstone (Promoted): Derek McInnes

And the start of this season:

Rangers: Walter Smith
Celtic: Tony Mowbray
Hearts: Csaba Lazlo
Aberdeen: Mark McGhee
Dundee United: Craig Levein
Hibs: John Hughes
Motherwell: Jim Gannon
Kilmarnock: Jim Jefferies
Hamilton: Billy Reid
Falkirk: Eddie May
St Mirren: Gus MacPherson
St Johnstone: Derek McInnes

And now:

Rangers: Walter Smith
Celtic: Neil Lennon (Caretaker)
Hearts: Jim Jefferies
Aberdeen: Mark McGhee
Dundee United: Peter Houston
Hibs: John Hughes
Motherwell: Craig Brown
Kilmarnock: Jimmy Calderwood
Hamilton: Billy Reid
Falkirk: Steven Pressley
St Mirren: Vacant
St Johnstone: Derek McInnes

Now not all of these are sackings. But by my reckoning that's five changes over the last close season and a further seven changes between the start of the 2009/10 season and today. Since April 2009 19 different men have tried their hand at managing in the SPL.

Motherwell, Celtic and Falkirk can take a special bow for two changes in that time.

At least nine clubs will start next season with a different manager than they started this season with.

In a 12 team league that is a hell of an attrition rate.

Look at this season's success stories. Rangers won the title, both Hamilton and St Johnstone pleasantly surprised. They stuck with their managers.

And Inverness, relegated last season, stuck with Terry Butcher. They bounced right back up.

Dundee United lost their manager but made a seamless transition by giving Peter Houston a chance at the job, not panicking when it went badly and then reaping the benefits of third place and a Scottish Cup final.

Stability won't always bring success. Changing managers is sometimes unavoidable. But I'd argue that when 75% of SPL clubs lose a manager (or two) over the course of not much more than a season, we're doing something wrong.