Football is a cutthroat business, and that fact has been proven over the last week. Premier League management has its share of stresses, and it appears that in the modern game, no head coach can rest on their laurels.
This has been proven time and time again, with the latest case in point coming at The Hawthorns, where Steve Clarke was sacked over the weekend.
West Brom are certainly not having their best season, and a recent run of four consecutive defeats has the club’s fans fearing that relegation from the top flight could be a realistic possibility this season.
However, despite the Baggies sitting in 16th place, only two points above the relegation places, there is an argument to suggest that the Midlands club have acted too hastily in showing the former Chelsea and Liverpool assistant the door.
Clarke moved to West Brom ahead of last term, and led the club to its highest finish in the top flight in 30 years, with the side ending up in eighth place.
As such, the expectations ahead of this term have been raised by fans and the club’s shareholders alike, with Clarke seemingly becoming a victim of his own success.
A key reason that West Brom excelled last season was the presence of loan star Romelu Lukaku, who netted 17 league goals for the club. With the Chelsea man’s temporary arrangement coming to an end, no suitable replacement has been found to lead the team’s forward line, and West Brom have understandably not been as dangerous an offensive unit as a result.
The blame for this must lie with the directors and policy makers as much as with the now departed manager. In truth, looking at the West Brom squad in comparison to the teams that are in the top half of the division currently, the Baggies will need a very special campaign to finish anywhere close to eighth again this season.
West Brom overachieved last term and Clarke’s management was the reason for this. To give him his marching orders in such a brash fashion wreaks of panic.
Meanwhile, in north London, André Villas-Boas is one of the favourites to be the next Premier League manager to get his marching orders. A distinctly average performance on Sunday evening saw his Tottenham team dismantled 5-0 at home by Liverpool, and have the tabloids going wild with ‘it’s only a matter of time’ stories on their back pages.
AVB was not given enough time to show what he was capable of at Chelsea, but it was believed Spurs would be more patient with the young manager. Whether this is the case or not will be revealed in coming hours, days and weeks.
Although Spurs have had a mediocre campaign so far, to sack the Portuguese coach now would be something of a travesty.
Yes, the defeats against Manchester City and Liverpool were unacceptable. However, Manuel Pellegrini’s side have netted six against Arsenal this season and four against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium this term too. Liverpool have the Premier League’s form player in the their attack, and Spurs were crippled with injuries in their rearguard.
These reasons are not an excuse for games that should have been much closer, but are not adequate to cost the former Porto man his job either.
Villas-Boas led Spurs to their best-ever Premier League points total last season and has a squad in transition on his hands that have just lost the world’s most expensive player. The one thing he needs is time.
The pressure on Premier League managers to succeed is extraordinary, but there needs to be a more calculated and understanding approach by club chairmen. Rash decisions are unfair on managers that have shown as recently as last season that they can lead their respective teams to groundbreaking campaigns.