Clubs fail for all sorts of reasons. For some, like in the recent case of Blackpool, the reason is obvious - the owners were bleeding them dry. For others, it’s more like death by a thousand cuts - the problem has developed over a period of time, and they find themselves in a situation that they can’t even define much less get out of.
Stoke City find themselves in this situation now, bottom of the Championship having being relegated from the Premier League last season, and they do what every club in that position does – they sack their manager.
But does that cure the problem? The issues could be deep-rooted, and replacing the manager just means the new guy inherits the same problems and the cycle continues.
What’s needed is presenting the new manager with a clean slate. No carried-over issues, legacy problems, grumblings, trouble-makers, feuds or whatever - a club that’s had its factory settings reset and which the new manager can take in whatever direction they see fit.
That’s where Roy Keane comes in. No club is ever going to employ Roy Keane again as a permanent coach, he’s too volatile, opinionated, unstable and downright scary. But, for a club in trouble, he’s just what’s required.
Clubs that are failing should employ Keane for, say, three months during which he should be given carte blanche to do ‘whatever is required’. Roy Keane’s great strength is his 100% obstinacy and inability to accept anything less than perfection. He wouldn’t try to understand how a situation has developed, or what’s gone on before, he’d take what was in front of him and fix it. It wouldn’t be pretty, there’d be a lot of casualties and at times it may resemble some of the grittier scenes from Game of Thrones, but...
When the new manager came in at the end of his tenure he may be faced with what looks like a smoking ruin, but it would be club ready to be taken to the next step - and then Roy could move on to his next three-month project.
Which could be Arsenal. Arsenal were failing by their standards, long before Wenger was finally shuffled out the door, and Swiss Tony - Unai Emery - has done nothing but continue the trend. The latest episode with Granit (please tell me his nickname is ‘Rocky’) Xhaka just highlights the situation they’re in.
Having thrown a wobbly with the fans, Emery then stripped Xhaka of the captaincy:
He accepted my decision, and also I told the other captains [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Héctor Bellerín, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Özil, in that order] the decision.
How many bloody captains do they need? What - are they managed by committee? Strewth, if ever a club needed a swift kick up the backside it’s this one, but if Roy was going to administer it – and I’d really love to see it happen — he’s going to have to be quick, because furtive whispers in dark places talk of the return of the Special One.
Which has been denied by Arsenal, but Jose is available, lives round the corner and has ‘chosen his next club’ as if that’s enough to secure him the position. And why not, they probably deserve each other.
As an aside, I watched a show at the Edinburgh fringe this year called ‘Wengerballs’ – a one man show by a crazy Arsenal fan about Wenger’s time in charge and it was hilarious. At one point the guy sat on my lap and whilst gently stroking my hair carried off the perfect Jose Mourinho impression, which I see with hindsight as a premonition.
So if the show ever comes your way I’d recommend it – just don’t sit near the front.
Wenger has now been mentioned as taking over at Bayern Munich, who’ve sacked their manager because it looked like they weren’t going to win the league or advance in the Champions League, so of course Wenger’s the perfect candidate because that’s precisely what he did at Arsenal for 22 years.
Southampton also look like they could do with a dose of Kean, although I think the problem there is that he’s just realised he’s got an ‘e’ missing from the end of his surname and isn’t sure what to do about it. Following their 0-9 demolition by Leicester, it was suggested that he’d ‘lost the dressing room’. We have it on good authority that it’s just down the tunnel on the left hand side. We like to help.
The other thing about that Leicester game was that it was played in torrid conditions and what I still don’t understand is why managers don’t wear appropriate clothing when it’s chucking down. At least Brendan Rogers put a coat on over his questionable pale tracksuit - which he really should reconsider, but after the first five minutes (and three goals) he still looked like he’d been in a washing machine all afternoon.
Little Neville was the same at Wembley yesterday, giving his post-match interview looking like he’d just partied with SpongeBob SquarePants - what is it about football managers that makes them stand out in the rain and get absolutely saturated? Is it a badge of honour or something? A bonding thing with the players? As far as I’m concerned they just look damned stupid – although don’t tell Roy Keane I said so.