Football’s sacking culture
Why are top football managers always being sacked?
Professional men’s football is well-known for its harsh sacking culture, where managers in top clubs are forced out of the club when the squad fails to perform up to expectations.
In the past year alone, big names like Jose Mourinho (Chelsea), Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool) and Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid) departed under acrimonious circumstances as their respective clubs failed to back them. Even Manchester United’s Louis van Gaal seems to be close to the sack.
With the exception of Brendan Rodgers, these managers have a proven track record and have won silverware in every club they have managed. So why is it that these managers are dealt severely when their teams perform badly?
Football is a business, and a horrible run would obviously result in less income in the form of prize money and dwindling ticket sales. Hard-core loyalists aside, there is no reason for the ordinary football fan to spend their money watching their team lose every weekend.
The manager has the job of keeping the team sharp, their morale high, and their performances on the pitch entertaining. Should he fail, it is inevitable for him to be booted out of the club. It reiterates that failure is not an option in a top club and anything but a successful season is considered unacceptable.
Take the performances of two of the four aforementioned coaches above. Despite Mourinho winning the league with Chelsea and Ancelotti winning the Champions league with Real Madrid, they were sacked in less than a year later after a dismal run of matches.
This goes to show that ultimately managers are held responsible for a bad season, not the players or the higher ups of the club.
On the flipside, senseless sacking of managers can lead to even graver consequences. After Carlo Ancelotti left the club, Real Madrid put Rafael Benitez at the helm. This raised numerous eyebrows when he took over despite Benitez’s slightly impressive CV and with good reason too: Real Madrid are no better than they were last year, and were even trashed 4-0 at home to rivals Barcelona. It goes to show that hiring a new manager may not be the best choice after all.
To add on, a change in managerial style destroys any sort of continuity for the club. Imagine a manager seeking to build the youth academy in a club for the sake of long term progress, only for the board to destroy his work for short-term achievements in the form of results and silverware. Such has been the case for clubs like Chelsea.
Sacking a manager is also very expensive when there is a need to compensate for their contracts. In Jose Mourinho’s case, Chelsea had to pay him an astonishing 10 million – that is as good as buying a new player.
Whether or not football’s sacking culture is justifiable to begin with, there are no quick fixes to poor teams. Football is a team sport, and you need the combined effort of the manager, the players, the training staff, the board, and even the fans to bring a club to greater heights.
UPDATE JAN 5: REAL MADRID’S MANAGER RAFA BENITEZ WAS JUST SACKED (FOR REAL!) THIS MORNING.