Talk is cheap, failure is measured by profile

Remember Kevin Keegan proclaiming he would “love it” if his Newcastle side outdid Manchester United in the title race? They didn’t. Or Ron Atkinson whining about Sky “Playing with their silly little machines” while he was in charge of Coventry City? That didn’t end well either.

Similarly, Sir Alex Ferguson’s pontificating to United fans that their “Job now is to support our new manager” has been exposed as the PR driven piece of baseless claptrap it really was. The backing of the Old Trafford faithful was one of the few things David Moyes could depend upon during his ridiculously short spell at the club. Even more so than that of the man who, seemingly, anointed him for the position.

The defenestration of the luckless Scotsman reaffirms a long held view that, in certain areas of the business which football now is, talk is cheap and failure is measured by profile. How else to explain the expulsion of the ex Everton manager which placed against Arsene Wenger having gone multiple seasons without a trophy?

Granted, the barren spell experienced by the latter and his team is most likely nearing an end. What is more difficult to quantify is how – given the horrendous, ruthless treatment doled out to the likes of Andre Villas Boas, Carlo Ancelotti and, in particular, Roberto Di Matteo – how Jose Mourinho has seemingly gone unscathed for a trophy-less season.

Intuition indicates that a reluctance to be seen dispensing with the services of one of the best coaches in the world twice may have influenced a rare application of common sense. That and – as with the scenario in what is now the weaker part of Manchester – a realisation that manifest inefficiencies among their playing staff has more to do with silverware shortcomings than anything else.

Deficiencies in quantities of loyalty at the massively bankrolled clubs is, sadly, understandable in a football world gone mad. What is less so is the shortness of memory abounding among those who brought Chris Hughton to Norwich and Michael Laudrup to Swansea and Malky Mackay to Cardiff. Replacing those named has – in most cases – made a grave situation irretrievably worse.

Lacking loyalty is bad enough, feigning it is surely infinitely worse. Which calls into question the wisdom of offering a six year term to a man replacing an icon. In contrast, Arsenal’s tenacity in being steadfast by Wenger is as understandable as it is admirable.

Prior to this season’s resurgence by Liverpool, the Frenchman’s side have long played the most attractive, entertaining football in England. And, for all the undoubted and creditable progress the Anfield outfit have made under Brendan Rodgers, significant improvements in the aptitude in several facets up their play will be needed if they are to stand comparison at the highest level.

Perhaps less easy to understand is the surely unprecedented eight year term handed to Alan Pardew by Newcastle United. Notwithstanding some of the more reprehensible baggage which accompanies him, it’s not exactly clear what he achieved to merit what in modern football must equate to near unconditional backing.

European qualification is commendable – especially given the paucity of funding in comparison to some of the other perennial contenders. However, after a non eventful sojourn on the continent and – if anything – a regression of the Geordies fortunes thereafter, that the incumbent is still in situ is a tad surprising.

Maybe it’s down to his alacrity in shifting attention regarding how those in his care have stagnated at best to everybody bar himself. It’ll be interesting to see how long that strategy holds out for him. In his favour, it’s possibly most telling that those in control are, for now at least, saying nothing.

Every Manager must dread hearing that they ‘have the full backing of the club’. Numerous examples suggest the exact opposite turns out to be the case. There are even more pointers, though, that it might actually boil down to who the individual is rather than anything they’ve achieved.

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