TALKING SPORT: Football and managerial madness

I CALL it 'Blackpool Syndrome.' The condition which convinces chairmen and directors across the Football League that their teams, no matter how poor, threadbare or under-funded, should be challenging for promotion.

How else can the spate of sackings we have just witnessed be explained? Other than to conclude that those with the power to hire and fire have suddenly been infected by some strange disease which destroys their reasoning and common-sense.

When Roy Keane was dismissed by Ipswich Town earlier this month, he became the eighth member of his profession to be relieved of his duties in just 10 days. The former Republic of Ireland international, in a statement issued by the League Managers' Association, reacted with typical bluntness after receiving the news.

"When results aren't good the manager gets the sack," said Keane. "That's the game."

While not even Richard Bevan, the LMA's chief executive, would argue that every one of his clients can claim to be doing sterling jobs, the situation the sport now finds itself in is ridiculous. Phil Parkinson booted-out by a Charlton side trailing second-placed Southampton by just three points. Brian Laws shown the door by Burnley where, despite failing to win over supporters, he had steered the team to just two behind Reading in sixth.

"Results had not gone as we would have hoped," chairman Barry Kilby said after asking the former Sheffield Wednesday chief to step down. "Clearly improvement is needed," Michael Slater, his counterpart at The Valley, insisted with, I'm informed, a straight face when handing Parkinson a P45 less than a week later.

You couldn't make it up? Well, quite clearly, Kilby, Slater and their cohorts can.

Clubs, given these financially-chastened times, are fond of waxing lyrical about youth development, the community and long-term plans. But how can you even begin to take this PR guff seriously when the average lifespan of a Championship manager is now 1.4 years? When Doncaster's Sean O'Driscoll, having only been appointed in September 2006, is now the 10th longest-serving name on the LMA's current list? You can't.

The play-offs and race for the Europa League has helped inject some much-needed excitement into English football. But they have also created a monster.

Ian Holloway performed wonders to drag Blackpool up on a pauper's budget. But folk would be wise to remember that what happened there remains the exception rather than the rule.

Got a view? Leave a comment below.

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