The opening weeks of the 2013/14 season has already seen two managers lose their job, and it leads to the question as to whether those at the helm are given enough of a chance.
It also highlights not only the diffculty of the job for managers, but also for the owners themselves. West Ham United legend Paolo Di Canio was the first top flight head coach to have his services terminated, as a terrible start to the season left the Black Cats bottom of the Premier League table. Indeed the former Swindon Town chief had found the quick step up the ladder a bit of a culture shock, but the Sunderland board should have always known that success under Di Canio would take time.
As West Ham owners David Gold and David Sullivan have previously said, the Italian is reasonably inexperienced, and so he was going to need time and backing from the club. Most importantly from Sunderland’s point of view, Di Canio managed to keep the Wearside club in the Premier League last season with the highlight being the 3-0 victory over North East rivals Newcastle United at St. James’ Park
But following that upset, victories evaded the former Lazio striker’s side. In a bid to steer Sunderland away from another relegation dogfight, Sunderland chairman Ellis Short allowed Di Canio to splash the cash on new acquisitions. Unsurprisingly, the head coach turned to his homeland to make additions including the highly rated Emanuele Giaccherini.
Surely if the chairman was willing to allow his head coach to spend millions of pounds, then you would expect that the man in charge was going to be allowed time? After all, it is highly unlikely that the team is going to gel immediately. But Short did the opposite and gave the outspoken Italian little time to justify his signings. Di Canio was sacked the day after the Black Cats’ defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
Now, Uruguayan Gus Poyet has a tough job on his hands and, like Di Canio, takes over with no Premier League managerial experience. The next managerial casualty of the season was Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway following their defeat against Fulham. The manager lasted less than a year in charge at Selhurst Park. Like Sunderland, Palace have endured a tough start to the season, although this was expected due to their squad’s inexperience in the top flight.
In fact, the Eagles’ only points of the season so far have come in a home victory over Sunderland – a game where Di Canio publicly criticised John O’Shea and Ji Dong-Won, which led to disapproval from many pundits. It is fair to say that the newly-promoted side have struggled to get to grips with the Premier League, and some players such as Dwight Gayle, who started last season at League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge, are finding it difficult to find the back of the net.
Holloway has always been honest and entertaining in his post-match interviews, and is highly regarded after almost pulling off the impossible with Blackpool in the Premier League. But this time around, ‘Ollie’ admitted that he had “lost the dressing room” and was not in the right frame of mind to continue.
Like Di Canio, Holloway had been given permission to spend money on improving his Championship play-off winning side, and he did so with the acquisitions of the aforementioned Gayle, former Hammers loanee Marouane Chamakh, Adrian Mariappa and Jimmy Kebe. Unfortunately for Holloway, the team failed to step up to the standard required and left the manager with a tough job on his hands.
To his credit, Steve Parish admitted that he took as much blame for the poor use of the summer transfer window as the manager himself, but felt it was the right decision for the club to part with Holloway by mutual consent.
Now the Eagles face a tough battle to remain in the Premier League beyond this season. That surely shows that there are right and wrong times for managers to vacate their post, or for owners to sack the man at the helm. Most would agree that Di Canio should have been given more time to allow his team to gel.
If they were given a few more weeks under the head coach, then they could have become a force. In the case of Holloway, it was partly the manager’s decision to leave and so due to him feeling he could do little more to help the team to improve, he has given the club a chance of salvaging their season. Many Crystal Palace supporters have expressed their belief that the former Queens Park Rangers manager was never the right man for the job, and that under him, they were lucky to reach the play-offs.
Numerous Palace fans took to BBC Radio 5 Live to vent their opinions and frustrations, and for the most part, they agreed that he has taken the club backwards rather than forwards. This further demonstrates that chairmen have a tough job and must be sure that they appoint the right man for the job, and they discard the current one at the correct time of the season.