In a week which has seen several managers cast aside from Premier League clubs, it is easy to sympathise with those who get the sack as soon as there are a few poor results. The pressures of the job turn healthy-looking men into doughy, greying souls, their faces etched with worry and stress lines. A couple of years in management can put 10 years on you.
Managers get built up to be greater and wiser than they really are, and get made out to be worse and more stupid than they are. They get vaunted more than they should and disparaged more than they deserve. They soak up too much love from people who do not know them, and they suffer too much unthinking vitriol from people who think they know them.
Sometimes it’s a sensible decision to get rid, sometimes it’s a knee-jerk, panicky, rubbish decision, but it is not said enough how they’re all paid huge money to get it right, whatever that means for each club and this insulates them from the strains afforded most people who need their job to pay their mortgage.
The fact players are so well paid tends to put the managers into the financial shade, but football management in the top flight is a weird world of phenomenal reward. That doesn’t mean we should routinely abuse them, of course, but equally it doesn’t mean we should treat their firing with much more than a shrug of the shoulders and a wave goodbye. It is not like a normal person losing a normal job.
Aston Villa’s Dean Smith was welcomed as a local lad and a fan of the club. Here was a man who ‘got’ the club, who knew what Villa was all about in a way that Tim Sherwood, Rémi Garde, Roberto Di Matteo and Steve Bruce simply could not understand. He had stood on the Holte End. He was ‘one of our own’. But five straight losses and none of that matters. All those previous dedications of loyalty and appreciation, now all evaporated. All the qualities once lauded are now forgotten or ignored. Bring on the new fool, we’re sick of this one.
You’re sometimes hailed on arrival as the new hero, only to be booed out as just the latest bastard to let us all down. It doesn’t matter if you’ve won two Championship titles, like Daniel Farke, you’re now sh*te, so f*ck off. It is never put like that, at least not by club owners, but that is the gist of it. Sometimes it feels harsh but let us cry no tears. This is no ordinary business and we should not respond to it as though it is.
To civilians it might seem grossly unfair and from outside of football its fans often seem to be an unreasonable shower of absolute and utter bastards. However, that feeling tends to evaporate when you see pictures of Steve Bruce on holiday in some repressive middle-eastern autocracy, pockets stuffed with an eight million quid pay off, topping his net worth up to £40 million. Rather, it is hard to understand why any manager at a top-flight club puts up such a fight to keep their job for so long.
Given you get all or part of your contract paid up and you do not even have to work for the money, why not get off the roundabout at the first opportunity and save yourself a lot of grief? You’re only putting off the inevitable anyway.
It isn’t said enough how rich top-flight managers are. They have no financial need to work, no need to put up with all the shit. You only need to get a gig once and you’re loaded, get two and you’re in the top 0.1% of the richest people in the land.
Dean Smith’s contract is worth nine million pounds and he’ll walk into another multi-million-pound job soon enough. Sean Dyche picks up three and a half million quid every year. Ralph Hasenhuttl trousers six million per annum. Solskjaer, an absolutely ridiculously eye-watering nine million, Pep Guardiola reportedly on nearer £30million, for some reason. I’m sure he’d do the job for 20.
In top-flight management you’re made massively rich whether you’re great, average, or absolute rubbish at the job. And unlike the real world, it’s amazing how managers, rejected by one club for not being up to the job, are seen as so attractive by another and are heavily remunerated once again.
People say they have professional pride, so stick it out for as long as possible but once things turn, you are abused from pillar to post and blamed for pretty much everything that isn’t going right. Why put up with that? Anything you do well will be ignored or put down to the players, anything you do wrong, you will be pilloried for. One of the game’s dirty secrets is that there are managers who are just waiting to get sacked and to pick up a pay-off, rather than resign and get little or nothing.
In no other walk of life is failure so handsomely rewarded. And if you do it right, you can even garner enough sympathy for the sacking and use it to get another decent job soon enough and further grow your fortune.
In the case of Aston Villa, they did the right thing to put Smith into the cannon and fire him over the Holte End right now, rather than wait a month or two to see if things turn around, because even if they did, he wouldn’t get the credit anyway. Once the faith is lost, there is only one way out and that is to pull the flush.
If you’re a top-flight manager, you are already made for life and are going to get the sack in the near future anyway, a fact you absolutely know that when you sign up for the job in the first place. The freakonomic bubble of the Premier League absolutely guarantees it.
Were Smith, Nuno, Farke or Bruce badly treated? They all deserve respect and a nod of appreciation but they really have not been hard done by, quite the reverse if anything. None would’ve been so massively rewarded in any other walk of life.
Any way you look at it, being a Premier League manager is a one-way ticket to Easy Street and we should never forget that when any of them get sacked.
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