For many, the hardest job you can have in football today is being a manager of a club in the English Premier League. With Brendan Rodgers, Dick Advocaat and Tim Sherwood having already being replaced with just over a quarter of the new season gone, this may actually be the case. But on the other hand, arguably the toughest league for a manager to operate in now is England’s second tier, The Championship. Whilst the media glare may not be as bright, the pressure in the Championship is just as high as in the Premier League, if not higher. In a league of 24 teams that is so evenly balanced that almost all clubs in the league have the talent to secure a promotion place, there are no such things as an easy game. With each club desperate to secure three points, every game becomes a smaller battle within a larger war. With every war there are always casualties and in this war that tends to be the managers.
To date, six managerial changes have been made in the Championship as clubs jostle for positions in one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Uwe Rolser (Leeds United), Marinus Dijkhuizen (Brentford), Steve Evans (Rotherham) and Guy Luzon (Charlton) have all been let go in recent months after a string of poor results. The latest duo to join them were Huddersfield manager Chris Powell and QPR boss Chris Ramsey. The pair was dismissed yesterday after their clubs dismal starts to the new season. Powell was first to go after Huddersfield slipped to 18th in the table following their 2-2 draw against Reading on Tuesday night. Huddersfield have quickly appointed former Borussia Dortmund coach David Wagner as their new head coach, in a move that has upset Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp who was trying desperately to bring Wagner to Anfield. QPR followed suit later on the same day sacking Chris Ramsey after the London side dropped to 13th in the league. Director of Football Les Ferdinand said the move was done in the best interest of the club stating that after the club managed to hold on to key players in the summer like Charlie Austin, the mandate for success had changed and that under Ramsey so far the club was falling short. Former boss Neil Warnock has been drafted in as temporary charge until QPR can appoint their new coach.
Whilst anti racism campaigner Troy Townsend, father of Tottenham’s Andros may believe that the move to sack them was partially race related, the truth is that football is a results based business. Clubs have evolved over the years into individual businesses which focus on profits and the bottom line above all else. Its money that drives these decisions and this season more than ever before, clubs in the Championship are desperate to land one of the three promotional spots to the Premier League. The reason for this is that next season marks the start of the Premier League’s new £5.1billion TV deal with Sky and BT and each club in the league is in line for a whopping £81million windfall. For that reason alone, clubs in the Championship are more impatient than ever before and are making the managerial changes whilst they still have a mathematical chance of promotion
Ramsey and Powell were removed now to avoid their respective clubs falling further behind in the promotion chase. To claim that the decision by Huddersfield and QPR was race related in any shape or form is misleading and shows a clear misunderstanding of the modern game. Both men are excellent coaches and managers so to suggest that their dismissals was to do with the colour of their skin rather than their abilities is insulting to them both. The harsh truth is that for one reason or another there are few black managers in the game today regardless of location. In France, Antonie Kombouare of Lens is the only manager of colour in Ligue 1, whilst in Spain Nuno Espirito Santo of Valencia is La Liga’s only representative. That is one more than in Italy and Germany who have no managers of colour in the top leagues, Serie A and the Bundesliga respectively. Indeed it is hard to find many examples across Europe but the same can be said for managers of other ethnicity or gender (for example: there is only one female manager in Europe’s various league – Clermont Foot’s Corinne Diacre). Football across Europe still has its serious issues but it continues to evolve to the point that the colour, ethnicity and gender of a coach becomes less of a factor the decision to appoint them or not in a majority of case.
What is a problem is that money is taking over to the point that young managers and coaches are no longer able to get their shot. In the past, clubs have been able to gamble on an untested coach, giving them a season and see what they can do. But now with money heading up all decision-making at the clubs, they can ill afford to take a risk leaving several coaches and potential managers disappointed. It has become such a problem that managers in England’s lower leagues now have little to no chance of becoming a Premier League manager unless they can gain promotion to the league with their existing teams. In the past, Sunderland and Aston Villa would have looked at the lower leagues for a talented manager to come in but instead have appointed a tried and tested Premier league manager (Sam Alladyce) and a foreign import who has had success in another top league (Remi Garde). The top managers in the Championship and League One were overlooked completely despite potentially being a better long-term fit. This is unlikely to change any time soon as money continues to tighten its grip on the beautiful game.