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Roker Ramble: Change Management

"The first rule of leadership. Everything's your fault" - A Bugs Life.

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It's been a hell of a week for managers and in a rampant Ramble this week we discover that Aston Villa managers have a shorter life expectancy that Philippine drug dealers, Ryan Giggs isn't American enough for the Welsh, we reveal the shocking truth about Nigel Pearson, a possible comeback for Tufty and Arsene Wenger - not just a whinging Frenchman after all. But first - selling England by the pound...

....so there you are. Been out of the game for a few months but missing the action and an offer comes in from Sunderland. Brilliant, you know the club, great set of fans, Chairman tells you that you're his #1 choice and always have been - just the job. And it's full on and you love it - match every week, players haven't got a clue so need a few European trips to scout up some talent, best player just arrested for child molesting, too many injuries to deal with, half the team don't speak English, pink seats and no airport.

Just what the doctor ordered, knock' em into shape by the New Year, drill clean sheets until they could defend The Alamo, keep ‘em up with a game to spare, bonus in pocket, ego boosted to mach 7, life is good. And then it gets better. England foiled by weird chanting, Roy falls on his sword, England come calling for the dream job and then.....

...nothing. One game every three months, no one in prison, everyone speaks the language, no transfers or scouting trips, pick of any player as long as they're English, but....bored, bored, bored, bored, bored.

So, why not go to a business lunch / meeting about - I forget, sod all probably, and shoot your mouth off about how clever you are - you don't have anything else to do. And here's the thing, I don't necessarily blame Sam, he is what he is and his ego won't let him change, certainly not over something like this. He was two months into his dream position and he already thought he was bigger than the job.

I blame the FA, I mean just how much responsibility for the England team do the nameless, anonymous suits who run the FA actually take? The top job in English football is not the England Manager, it's the Head of the FA who the England manager reports into. And do we know who it is or anything about them?

Why is English football the only business where responsibility ends half way up the chain of command? England crash out of a tournament, it's the Head of the FA that should be on the touchline being interviewed, not the manager, because he's responsible for appointing the manager in the first place.

The Head of the FA should be high-profile, energetic, have integrity, be honest, capable and most of all - visible. The England manager shouldn't be able to go to the toilet without his - or her permission. Instead we make another knee-jerk decision, take on the next flavor-of-the month manager and give them carte-blanche to do the job whichever way they want. It stinks of abdication of responsibility, and it results in grubby little conversations in grubby little restaurants with grubby little people.

So - Arsene Wenger, love him or loathe him - yes there is a choice, celebrated twenty years at Arsenal this week. (Tip for any younger readers - it was already called ‘Arsenal' before he came, it's just one of those weird things). And, to be fair, he's had a bit of a bad press recently, being overshadowed by younger sexier managers coming in from abroad and saying bad things about him, and if it hadn't been for Sir Alex up the road, establishing a longer, more successful dynasty, he would have received far more recognition than he already has.

It's admitted that he changed the face of the English game with new training methods, diet, psychology, the development of youngsters, big coats on the touchline - my favourite, and a fabulous style of play that when performed well makes you forget to breathe. And if that wasn't enough, one fact would make me respect him despite all the little misdeamours along the way - when he first joined Arsenal, his first ever transfer was to buy Nicholas Anelka from PSG for £500K. He sold him two years later to Real Madrid for £23.5 million and used the money to fund the Clubs new training facility. Not bad eh?

And the press are bigging up the chances of Wenger becoming England manager when his contract expires next summer, but I don't think he should do it. I think the suits at the FA should grow a pair and start managing all aspects of the England team apart from the team itself - arranging the games, getting the tickets printed, booking the hot dogs, sacking the band :) and then give Wayne Rooney the job as player-manager. Seriously.

Slightly down in the longevity stakes, the sacking of Roberto di Matteo means Aston Villa are looking for their fifth permanent manager since February 2015. At what point can we drop the word ‘permanent'? It's not a job, it's a long weekend in the West Midlands that got three stars on Trip Advisor.

And ex-Sunderland favourite and England also-ran Steve ‘The Bruce' is high on the list to replace him. Unfortunately not as high as Huddersfields' David Wagner who is currently lighting up the Championship with a brand of fast aggressive play, down in part he claims, to the survival training the squad experienced in Sweden in the summer.

‘We had no electricity, no toilet, no beds and no mobile phones' , Wagner said - sets him up nicely for Birmingham then.

Swansea and Cardiff both sacked their managers this week, step up Ryan Giggs, Welshman, footballer extraordinaire, and manager-in-waiting for....someone. Not Swansea though, who's American owners appointed Bob Bradley, an American, who's had relative success managing - America, and ‘who impressed hugely at the interview'. Ryan Giggs may not be a proven manager yet, but he has all the credentials and in order to impress hugely, would only have to have shown up.

Still, mustn't jump to conclusions, American owners have had a measure of success in the Premier League - there's the Ewings at MUFC, that's gone well, the Glimmer Twins at Liverpool who wouldn't speak to each other, the guy at Fulham who also owns Jacksonville something and took them down, Randy Learner at Villa, always had the Club's best interests at heart and then there's Ellis Sh.....oops...

Nigel Pearson then. He's either been sacked or about to be sacked by Derby after a furious argument with the Club's owner where the conversation became ‘extremely heated'. No great surprise, Pearson being a raving nut-job who managed to get sacked twice by Leicester despite pulling off one of the greatest relegation escapes ever. And that's saying something coming from us.

However, all I'll say is this - has anyone ever seen Nigel Pearson and Vinnie Jones in the same room together? No, exactly, I swear they're one and the same. Following Saturday's defeat at home against Blackburn Rovers, Pearson said that his players were ‘paralysed by fear'. I'm just saying, that's all.

And his departure leaves the way open for Steve Maclaren to come back to Derby, or if he's not interested then Steve ‘The Bruce' is on the call list and I don't know if I can go on to be honest.

Finally, a word from our own, Mr Moyes. In the wake of ‘Samgate', Moyes has asked for more transparency in transfer deals and has revealed that some players have up to 25 agents representing them - that's absolutely insane and is probably more than MI6 have at the moment.

Next week, the reaction to the FA tapping up David Moyes for the vacant England manager's job.