Off the Mark: Why Premier League experience counts in the battle at the bottom


Take a look at the three teams currently residing in the Premier League relegation zone, and indeed at West Brom, the team just outside it. What have they got in common?

The Baggies, Sunderland, Cardiff and Fulham all replaced their managers during this season – Fulham did it twice – and all four men now in charge of those respective clubs are currently in their first ever Premier League managerial role. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end.

This new quartet aren’t alone amongst the 20 managers at the 20 clubs in the top division in the land.

Tottenham’s Tim Sherwood and Swansea’s Garry Monk are also in their first Premier League roles, actually their first managerial roles full stop. Monk and Swansea, who always had a decent enough points cushion from the moment they dispensed with Michael Laudrup, picked up a good win over Norwich last time out but had gone winless in nine before that, whilst the less said about Sherwood’s tenure at Tottenham the better. We probably said enough last week, anyway.

There’s also Manuel Pellegrini, but the money available to him at Manchester City ensures that he’ll never truly be a failure on a grand scale. He’s been told to win the Premier League, and he’s got City into a good position to do just that. And besides, he’s vastly experienced elsewhere.

It is at the bottom of the division where this lack of experience in the vagaries of the British game can be shown up though.

At this stage of the season when every point needs to be scrapped for and every goal seems to be worth double, having that knowhow of this division is only going to stand you in good stead.

Of course some of these managers aren’t novices. Fulham’s Felix Magath has been in charge of plenty of clubs in his homeland, including Bayern Munich, whilst West Brom’s Pepe Mel took Real Betis into the Europa League this season.

Both have been good managers elsewhere and both will probably go on to be so again, but are they the right men for their clubs at this particular time? Magath was out of work for 18 months before being jettisoned into Fulham. What sort of preparation can he have done for the role?

It’s a different story for Cardiff’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Sunderland’s Gus Poyet.

Solskjaer, an extremely decorated player thanks to his storied spell with Manchester United, doesn’t want a Premier League relegation on his stellar CV, and in truth he never really should have been given the chance to. Hopefully there will be a good manager in there somewhere, and he started off well in his native Norway, but this really isn’t the time to be taking a punt on someone.

Of the quartet of clubs we’ve mentioned, Sunderland perhaps have the best man for this sort of situation in Poyet, who cut his managerial teeth at Brighton. Defeats such as the one against West Ham on Monday won’t help though, and his side now face a huge challenge to climb out of trouble given their difficult away fixtures.

The chairmen at these four clubs must be looking at the jobs that the likes of Tony Pulis, Mark Hughes and Steve Bruce have been doing this season and feel more than a little envious – that’s indeed if Vincent Tan is capable of emotion. Indeed, there’s a good argument to suggest that Crystal Palace are the only Premier League club to have benefitted from a mid-season managerial change in this campaign.

This isn’t supposed to be a tub-thumping rally cry backing the mediocre British manager, they’ll always find jobs somewhere regardless, but gaining that experience of this division and this culture seems vital to success in the Premier League, look at Roberto Martinez, Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rodgers. Don’t look at David Moyes, as it will ruin the argument.

This season’s relegation battle seems to be all about who can arrest poor form first, as none of the teams involved are particularly inspiring.

And when they need points more than ever before, shouldn’t club chairmen have gone with the tried and tested to try and pick them up?


Heads you lose, Pardew

Ever since Alan Pardew’s headbutt on Hull’s David Meyler, Newcastle have scored one goal in four matches, conceding eight.

It is another worrying run in a 2014 which featured eight winless matches prior to a small turnaround and three wins in four, but as their players appear to have gone on a collective holiday judging by the non-performances against Everton and Southampton, surely it is time for a “conscious uncoupling” between Pardew and his vanity project.

The Premier League wants its old, entertaining Newcastle back.


Everton and Arsenal to share spoils

We’re massively in profit now thanks to Peter Odemwingie scoring the only goal of Stoke’s victory last week, and this time we are turning our attentions to Sunday’s big meeting between Everton and Arsenal.

In a huge match in the context of a top four finish, the Gunners will be looking to show the improved form they displayed in the second half against Manchester City last week, and they can build on that to earn a point at Goodison Park to keep Everton at arm’s length.

The draw is 9/4 with, whilst it’s a tempting 11/2 for the match to finish 1-1.



Posted on 2 Apr 2014, in Off the Mark and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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