| 10.7°C Dublin

John Giles: Football management has become a mug's game


Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew, pictured, is happy to give Wilfried Zaha a platform to impress

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew, pictured, is happy to give Wilfried Zaha a platform to impress

Jose Mourinho saw his Chelsea side play football with 'high quality and a clear identity'

Jose Mourinho saw his Chelsea side play football with 'high quality and a clear identity'


Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew, pictured, is happy to give Wilfried Zaha a platform to impress

I DON’T know anything about Newcastle United Chief Executive Lee Charnley but I know wouldn’t work for him in a million years.

Anyone with an ounce of self-respect should feel the same.

But self-respect is an increasingly rare commodity among those who pursue football management as a career. It has never been an environment suited to an independent thinker but it’s worse now than it ever was.

I will never forget the day I opened a newspaper to see Liverpool Chief Executive Ian Ayre say that buying footballers should never be down to the “whim” of an individual; in other words, the manager.

It was an astonishing thing to say but so revealing in terms of the way owners and chief executives, mostly people who never kicked a ball straight in their lives, actually think.

From what I’ve read about Charnley, he seems to have been around Newcastle for a long time working in a variety of capacities in the administration area and eventually climbing to the top.

Along the way, he has seen Newcastle stagger from one crisis to the next without ever winning anything. He has watched Alex Ferguson in his pomp sweep the board and in one memorable season, at his club’s expense.

Yet this is the route he has chosen in the search for someone to replace Alan Pardew.

“The traditional English manager who would want full control is not what I’m looking for - they don’t fit within our structure or strategy,” he said.

The idea that Pardew had full control of buying and selling at St James’ Park is hilarious in itself. There is nothing new in Charnley’s words. For a long time now, the manager’s job at Newcastle has been a poisoned chalice.

So, whichever one of the 80 applications which Newcastle have received is ultimately successful, he will have to accept the title of head coach and know that a raft of other people will have a say in the players he must manage.

This is a denial of the very expertise which a club is investing in by hiring a man to be the manager or head coach or whatever you want to call it.

I’m sure if Charnley or Ian Ayre were getting an extension put onto their house, they would want the plumber to know where to put the pipes, how to connect them and above all, make sure they don’t leak.

Would they be happy if they arrived at the site one day to find that their plumber was having a committee meeting with the postman, the milkman, the electrician and a few brick layers to advise him on the finer points of U-bends?


It’s an exaggerated example of what I’m talking about, but not by much. The same principle applies in all walks of society. Charnley himself will have the final say on administrative issues at St James’  Park and I’ll bet he wouldn’t tolerate it if someone else meddled in his job.

The problem, of course, is that the 80 applications he mentioned show that there will always be a herd of ambitious managers out there more than willing to submit to all sorts of indignities.

This is best illustrated by Pardew himself and his decision to leave Newcastle for another club notable for interference from above in team affairs.

Pardew saw Tony Pulis perform a miracle and then walk away for at least some of the same reasons he left Newcastle. Crystal Palace were desperate when they hired him.

I’ve no doubt that this gave him plenty of leverage in negotiating his terms but I wouldn’t doubt for one second that he will run up against the same grief Pulis faced if he manages to save them from the drop.

This is where the growing lack of self-respect lies. There is ever more cutting disrespect shown to managers by owners, chief executives and directors but in recent memory, only Pulis and perhaps Jose Mourinho have shown enough backbone to walk away.

Pardew walked from one bad situation into another and if he ever had the talent and stature to demand and get the kind of control which is all important, that capacity has been diminished.

All the while, the League Managers Association sits quietly, doing and saying nothing. As a union, it doesn’t show much solidarity with its sacked members.

The LMA might get involved in the financial aspects of a sacking occasionally but that’s about it as far as I can see. Even in that area, there are regular disputes between clubs and former managers which linger and become bitter.

It has been said before but never with such depth of feeling. Why would anyone want to be a manager?

I wrote an article a while back about the drain in potential managerial talent to television punditry and how the generation of wealthy young men are turning their backs on football management because they have more than enough to keep them in comfort after their playing careers are over.

Can you blame Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and Jamie Redknapp, bright lads who look to me like they would have made a decent stab at running a football team, if they look at situations like Newcastle, Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Spurs and many,  many more and decide that management, more than ever,  is a mugs’ game?