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.

sir alex fergusonI ask the question, are there any managers left that have complete control of transfer dealings at the highest level of football clubs in England?

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.

sir alex fergusonTo 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.

sir alex fergusonSteve McClaren is highly regarded as a football coach from his time at Manchester United, Middleborough and in Holland and Germany.

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.

  • DownUnderMag

    The money involved in football transfers these days is astronomical, far more than the days gone by of Keegan and Co.  There was never any doubt that spending 15m quid on a certain England number 9 was expensive, but certainly no gamble.  But there were plenty of players around who moved for a couple of million and on sensible wages, if they didn’t work out then it wasn’t a major investment.   Most managers given a handful of cash these days go silly, paying over the odds to get their man and pay exorbitant wages to boot on long contracts thanks to the Bosman fuster-cluck.  This represents a huge gamble should the player not work out as we have seen far too often with ourselves in the past, the club being left with a burden for years to come for the likes of Xisco among countless others.

    I can see why chairman and owners, who are the ones footing the bill (at most clubs that is…clearly ours just takes OUT of the club), are reluctant to give all that power to just one man.   The model of having someone in charge of the scouting, another in charge of transfer dealings etc…it is here to stay.  It is up to the coaches to be more flexible…more tactically astute rather than simply expecting money thrown at things every transfer window to cover their own inadequacies.

    All that being said, I don’t think it should be anywhere near as cut and dry as our fuhrer has set it out to be.   If a head-coach is the one who’s head is on the line with results and who is in charge of putting the best team together he can, then surely they should have some input into transfer dealings and who they do or don’t want?  Surely a model of the manager asking for a player in a certain role/area/position then the scout heading off to collect names, run it by the manager, pick out a shortlist and then the transfer person go do the business would work much better?    Simply giving a coach a bunch of cheap players and saying “here get on with it, but i’m going to sell any that work out so you’ll be left with the ones you didn’t want and don’t play normally anyway” just is insanity!  

    But, as we know, Ashley will continue to buy low sell high.  he will continue to buy in players who are available on the cheap simply because they might have a high sell-on value.  He will continue to overlook key areas on the pitch if we can’t get someone cheap enough for that area.  He will continue to be slow in the market to find a replacement if one can’t be found cheap enough.  He will continue to buy players even when that player fills a position already with a plethora of players to fill it, as long as the player is available at the right price.   It is now simply the managers (sorry head-coach…or is that just “coach” now) to deal with these things and somehow make it all come together and produce enough results on the pitch to avoid relegation but ensure early exits from the cups and not get too close to european qualification.  Such is the NUFC way of life these days!

  • No Brainer

    Look he was able to buy goid quick fast brilliant players but he xan never dream of being likebed yo those two never.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    The most obvious fault (and failing) in it all is the owner and therefore the system is willing to cash in anyone at any time. I think all these pundits and reporters are thinking there is some form of genius plan in place rather than the one which the owner/club have after all told us about. The plan is just as they say it is and nothing more – survive in the PL by buying cheaply and selling your successes. Do  not replace them with proven equal quality and certainly not when they are most needed. I hardly think Mourinho faces the same problem, what with still being able to bring in the likes of Drogba as a squad player. All we end up with is a squad of players thrown together and quite literally sold off at will. Investing minimally in players while selling off your best ones is not the model of any successful football team across the world, no matter who manages/coaches them. We did that before under Westwood, McKeag, Seymour etc and repeating it now with the owner pocketing the profits is hardly something anyone can call progress.

  • Sickandtiredstill
  • jimblag

    Great article, I’m no supporter of the regime and on the whole i hate Ashley but this article was well needed in terms of people understanding where football is going. I hate it, but I love football so this is life, I guess.

  • TonyMarkElsender

    How’s the drink going down?

  • A lex

    Ashley is simply a most odious human being. I can’t comprehend how people watch his behaviour to all and sundry……but at the same time sit back and do nothing.
    Hope this Glasgow MP can get together with Chi Onwura and put the fat man on the parliamentary spot over his dealings.

  • PhilYare

    i think keegan was very different to ferguson, wenger and mourinho to just name a few. keegan was honest and never tried to play mind games

    too many manager ‘never saw it’ or ‘defend their players cheating’. keegan was one of the few men that connected with the city and the people

    would anybody else have the balls to come out the stadium and defend his decision to do something to the supporters? 

    i remember alex fergusons farewell, it was passionless and half-arsed, said it all for me