Are Kevin Keegan, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger a dying breed?
When Alan Pardew left the club, a number of reporters and journalists stated that no traditional English manager such as a Tony Pulis or a Steve Bruce would accept the job of head coach at Newcastle, due to the current set up of the club and the lack of input they will have in transfer dealings.
Apparently these traditional managers require complete control and the responsibility of buying and selling players.
I have no doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson ran Manchester United from top to bottom during his time at the club and had a major say – more than likely the final say on which players were bought and sold. I also believe that Arsene Wenger currently has similar control at Arsenal; although many Arsenal fans may wish he didn’t have this control due to his stubbornness and reluctance to bring in players in positions that the team are crying out for. I also believe that Keegan would have had similar control in his first spell as manager at Newcastle.
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Looking towards the present day I believe even the great Jose Mourinho has had to accept that transfer decisions will not be made by him alone and his acceptance of this was probably made clear to him on his return to Chelsea.
Brendan Rodgers often speaks of a transfer committee at Liverpool who discuss and decide on transfer targets.
Pochettino at Spurs has to work alongside Franco Baldini, as well as ex-Southampton head of recruitment Paul Mitchell, who was recently brought in and recommended by Pochettino himself. I also believe that Daniel levy would be no shrinking violet when it comes to getting involved in transfer decisions at board level.
Even recently appointed Tony Pulis, who is hailed as the ultimate traditional English manager, has joined a club in WBA who have for some time now been operating with a continental style set up in regard to player recruitment. Have they really just ripped this whole blueprint apart to accommodate Pulis, or is it more likely that Pulis and other managers in the English game now realise the direction that football is going and the influence over transfers that Ferguson once had is a thing of the past. Did Sam Allardyce identify Valencia, Sakho and Song and say these are the players I need to progress with West Ham, or was this decision made by a group of people identifying targets that are realistically available?
In the past a new manager would take over a club, spend millions on new players, only to be sacked six months later. A new man then comes into the role as manager and blames the lack of results on the squad not being his own players and he needs a couple of transfer windows to sort it out and bring in his own men, which often repeats itself again and again. Clubs now believe that this lack of long-term planning cannot continue as there is simply too much money involved to be used solely on one person’s opinion.
Regarding our club Newcastle, they have recently stated that they are looking for a head coach who can come in and work as part of a three alongside Graham Carr and Lee Charnley. They will have a say in player recruitment but not the final say.
This is nothing new under the Mike Ashley regime as in the past we have had Wise and Jiminez along with the disastrous appointment of Kinnear. The appointment of Joe Kinnear just simply didn’t work, it was the wrong man, the wrong role and the wrong choice. The Wise and Jiminez period at the club was also criticised as many believe that their decisions led to the resignation of Keegan in his second spell as manager.
Towards the end of the transfer window Wise and Jiminez identified Xisco and Ignacio Gonzalez as players to bring in, which Keegan did not agree with, having never seen them play and ultimately resigned when they were brought in.
To be fair to Wise and Jiminez, reports also suggest that Modric was identified as a possible recruit and a bid was made only to lose out to Spurs. Another report stated that Keegan only sanctioned the sale of Milner to Villa as he believed that the club had agreed a deal to bring in Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich which never ended up happening.
If either or both of those players had ended up at Newcastle then recent history may have been very different, although both would certainly have been sold off now for profit. If this is true, then good players were identified but Newcastle had difficulties getting the deals over the line. Was it the structure that was wrong or were Wise, Jiminez and Keegan just too far apart in their ideas to make it work?
When it comes to identifying and spotting players for transfer, one person who most people would agree has done an excellent job is Graham Carr. Looking at the other clubs in the Premier League there is nobody I would prefer to have in this role than him. He also seems to have the trust of Mike Ashley and a broader role at Newcastle United, as he is supposedly involved heavily in the decision to bring in a new head coach. What would happen to Graham Carr if Newcastle were to appoint a traditional English manager, who wanted to make the final decision on player recruitment?
If Carr is responsible for identifying the players then the third person in the structure is required to come in and get the deal over the line. Lee Charnley is relatively new to this role but most people seemed to be initially impressed by his work in the summer where he brought in players such as Cabella, De Jong, Janmaat, Riviera and Perez for decent prices. Newcastle identified the players they wanted and seemed to do their business relatively early.
Through either injury or adapting to a new league; Cabella, Riviera and De Jong have yet to get going this year but most people would have been pleased with the signings and the club’s outlay in the summer. To give credit, under both Llambias and Charnley Newcastle seem to operate well in negotiations and don’t seem to get mugged around the table which wasn’t always the case. Unfortunately, Charnley doesn’t seem too keen to build on his summer dealings in this transfer window and impress further, even though a new striker and centre-half are desperately needed.
This brings us to the third part of the triangle and the role of head coach.
The names currently linked with the head coach position seem to be managers or coaches who have shown an ability to coach and improve players in the past.
Frank De Boer is most fans’ preferred candidate, he has also developed a reputation as a coach who improves players and develops youngsters, as well as winning titles.
Remi Garde apparently got the best out of the squad of players he had at the time at Lyon and developed youngsters from the youth team.
Thomas Tuchel overachieved at Mainz with a squad of players who he improved through a different tactical approach and solid man-management.
John Carver is the man in the position at the moment and he has the opportunity between now and the end of the season to prove that he has the tactical approach, coaching ability and man-management skills to take the club forward. Failure to do this and the club will look to appoint a head coach that could be from the list above.
Many journalists and pundits state that a manager must be able to bring in his own players and I am 100% sure that this set-up would never work for Ferguson, Wenger or Keegan but is it really any different than what most of the clubs in the premiership are doing now anyway?
Football is changing and managers or coaches are starting to realise that to gain employment at clubs they need to be part of a player recruitment decision making process, rather than simply making the decisions.