Are the “Manager of the Year” awards a managerial kiss of death?
Posted on January 21st, 2013 | 19 Comments |
Well not if your surname is “Ferguson,” “Wenger” or “Mourinho” perhaps, but for most, if not quite all of the others who won the award, it has seemingly been a ticket to disaster, despair, and possibly permanent career oblivion, or at least a prelude to a big dent in the manager’s CV.
In this story, I will take a look at many of the previous winners for whom the award seemed to be more of a curse than a blessing. So, lets take a look at the prevous victims of the curse, and also ask if Newcastle United’s very own Silver Supremo, Alan Pardew, might be another one.
Kenny Dalglish (Premier League Manager of the Season 1994–95).
When Kenny Dalglish won the Premier League “Manager of the Season” award for 1994-5, he was the golden boy of the football management world, just as he had been as a player in the years before that. With a little help from his most illustrious predecessor Bob Paisley, he had won three league titles, two FA Cup titles and four Charity Shields as manager of Liverpool. Moving on to Blackburn Rovers, he then took them to promotion, and even the 1994-5 Premiership title in their third Premiership campaign and it was for this that he received his award.
After winning though, Dalglish’s star faded. He moved upstairs to became Blackburn’s Director of Football, eventually leaving at the end of the next season as the club started on a decline which would eventually lead to relegation back to the Championship at the end of the 1998–1999 season. Getting back to “Chuckles” Dalglish though, he moved on to succeed his Liverpool predecessor, Kevin Keegan, as manager at Newcastle United.
After a good first season where the club finished as Premiership runners up, the Toon then slid to 13th in the following season. Though there were the two highlights of a spectacular 3-2 Champions League victory over Barcelona and a Cup final appearence against Arsenal, Dalglish was eventually sacked two draws into the following season. A brief one year stint as Director of football and eventually manager at Celtic followed. That ended in acrimony however, though Dalglish did have a Scottish League Cup title and a £600,000 pay off to console him during his 11 years in the managerial wilderness which followed.
He eventually came back to the Premiership to manage his old club Liverpool after the sacking of Roy Hodgson, coming seventh and even winning the League Cup. However he was sacked in the wake of a series of expensive transfer flops including a ridiculous £35 million paid for Newcastle United’s Andy Carroll, who was eventually loaned to West Ham by Dalglish’s successor, Brendan Rodgers.
Frank Clark. (LMA Manager of the Year – 1995).
Moustachioed Newcastle United and Nottimgham Forest legend who succeeded Brian Clough as manager of Nottingham Forest in 1993 after the club were relegated to the then First Division. After being promoted the next season as Champions, he then took Forest to 3rd in the Premier League and a place in the UEFA Cup (the Champions League really was only for Champions back then) amidst talk that Nottingham might have found a new Clough. This won the moustachioed maestro an LMA Manager of the Year award. However, this was followed by 9th the season after, then a relegation battle the season after that.
Clark left as manager in December 1996, moving upstairs to become Chairman after a series of struggles in the boardroom, with player Stuart Pearce taking over temporarirly, then Dave “route one” Bassett. The club eventually finished bottom and were relegated. Clark still remains a legend at both Nottingham Forest and Newcastle United though and he recently resumed the reins as Nottingham Forest’s Chairman .
Peter Reid (LMA Manager of the Year – 1996).
The year after Frank Clark picked up the LMA prize before beginning a plunge into oblivion, the simian headed Sunderland Supremo, Peter “Monkey heed” Reid, was the unlucky recipient. This was for taking the club from the Third World side of the North East to seventh in the Premiership, an incredible achievement for the red and white vagrants and one of the highest ever finishes for a newly promoted club. This fleeting moment of glory was followed however by a seventeenth place finish and a sacking, with the Mackems scoring only 28 goals in the entire season.
His last job in management was with the Kolkata Camelians in the six team 2012 Bengal Premier League. His star player was Robbie Fowler.
Danny Wilson (LMA Manager of the Year – 1997).
Wilson won the 1997 LMA award for guiding Barnsley to promotion as Division One runners-up. Originally signed up as a 34 year old player manager in the Summer of 1994, he eventually got Barnsley promoted to the top division of English football for the first time in their 110 year history for the 1996-7 season. Though they reached the FA Cup quarter final and in the fifth round knocked out favourites Manchester United, they were relegated from the Premiership the next season.
Wilson left soon afterwards to become manager of his old club Sheffield Wednesday, but by March of that season, fans and even local MP and Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett, was calling for his head there and he was sacked.
Currently managing the Wednesday’s Sheffield rivals Sheffield United in League One.
Dave Jones (LMA Manager of the Year – 1998).
Finished 12th with Southampton and picked up an LMA award. However in the season after he scraped 17th after a late run to narrowly avoid relegation. False accusations of child abuse came after that and Jones was suspended as manager on full pay as Glenn Hoddle took over the managerial reins. When he was completely exhonerated, Southampton paid off his contract.
Currently managing Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship.
George Burley. (LMA Manager of the Year – 2001, Premier League Manager of the Season 2000-01).
Burley did exactly what Alan Pardew did at Newcastle United last season with the much smaller Ipswich Town. In the 2000–01 season he took the “Tractor Boys” to 5th in the Premiership table, qualifying for the then UEFA Cup in the process. Again like Pardew, he also won both the the Premiership and LMA “Manager of the Season” awards. Lets hope that his fate in the following season is not also replicated however, as Ipswich were relegated and Burley’s contract was terminated by mutual agreement.
In his last management job, at Cypriot side Apollon Limassol, he was sacked after only two games in May 2012.
Steve Coppell. (LMA Manager of the Year – 2006, 2007).
After succeeding Pardew as manager of Reading, he eventually won promotion to the Premiership, winning the Championship with a record 106 points. For this he won his first LMA Award. For his encore, he then guided Reading to an impressive eighth position in their first Premiership season, winning his second Manager of the Year Award in a row. In their next season, Reading were relegated.
Coppell is currently the Director of Football at League One giants, Crawley Town FC.
Harry Redknapp (Premiership Manager of the Season 2009–10).
When Harry “that money was only resting in my dog’s account” Redknapp was appointed as manager of Tottenham Hotspur, they were bottom of the Premiership with only two points after eight games. After shepherding the club up to an eventual eighth place finish as well as a League Cup final appearence, Redknapp followed this up the next season with the club’s highest Premiership finish to date, fourth, and a place in the Champions League. It was this which won him his Premiership “Manager of the Season” award.
Redknapp just missed out on Champions League football the following season, coming fifth, then the curse evenyually started to strike. The season after he still missed out on Europe’s biggest club competition despite actually finishing fourth because the team placed who finished sixth that season, Chelsea, became the holders after beating Bayern Muniich in the final. Redknapp was also hot favourite for the England manager’s job at the time too in the wake of Fabio Capello leaving, however everything started going pear shaped for “Droopy Dog” just when it seemed as if his career was reaching it’s zenith. It all started to come crashing down when he was charged (but subsequently cleared) of tax evasion, was passed over for the England job in favour of the eminently respectable kindly uncle type, Roy Hodgson (mentioned below), and was then refused a new contract as Tottenham manager after the abovementioned distractions.
As at Tottenham though, Redknapp has now been recruited as a firefighter at Queens Park Rangers, another club who are currently at the bottom of the Premiership.
Manager who eventually shook the curse.
David Moyes (LMA Manager of the Year – 2003, 2005, 2009).
A three time winner of the LMA award. Like many, Moyes was another manager who, when his new club was in genuine danger of relegation, rescued them and took them to seventh in the Premiership after his first full season in charge. For this he was awarded the first of his three LMA awards in 2003.
However, the deadly Manager of the Year curse struck in his next season at Everton as poor results, training ground bust ups with fellow Scottish hard man Duncan “drunken” Ferguson, and even disciplinary problems for Moyes himself followed in the next season, a season which saw Everton just avoiding the dreaded drop with a 17th placed finish on 39 points, the lowest total in the club’s history.
However Moyes’ next season (2004-5) was a revelation, and saw Everton finishing fourth and qualifying for the Champions League for the first time. It also won Moyes his 2005 LMA award. However, the dreaded curse tried to strike Moyes once more in the following season. Everton crashed out 4-2 on aggregate to Villareal at the first hurdle and the club even spent some parts of the season at the very bottom of the Premiership. However, once again, Moyes proved that he was up to the challenge, with the club eventually clawing their way back to mid table respectability with an 11th placed finish.
After he won his third award in 2009, a season where Everton were the losing FA Cup finalists (going down 2-1 to Chelsea after beating Manchester United in the semi final), it may have seemed as if the curse was striking once again. Everton started their Premiership season with a 6-1 drubbing by Arsenal and lost three out of their first four games. However in Moyes and Everton’s usual style, they eventually rallied, finishing the season in a thoroughly respectable eighth place.
Roy Hodgson (LMA Manager of the Year – 2010).
Voted the 2010 LMA Manager of the Year by a record margin for taking Fulham into the Europa League and reaching the final, which they lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid two days after Hodgson received his award. Nonetheless it was a remarkable achievement which also led eventually to him receiving a call from the mighty Liverpool to manage them in the wake of Rafa “the Gaffer” Benitez’s departure. Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish had also thrown his hat into the ring for the position at the time but was turned down by the club’s then owners, the highly unpopular Tim Hicks and George Gillett, possibly on the grounds that he had been out of management for over a decade.
Things subsequently went so badly for the old campaigner that he even tried to rub his own face off in frustration in a game against our very own Newcastle United. With the club under the new ownership of the Fenway Sports Group and the shadow of Grumpyguts Dalglish hanging over him, he was sacked after only 31 games in charge, the shortest managerial reign in Liverpool history. Of course, he was replaced by old Chuckles Dalglish himself.
You can’t keep a good man down however and Hodgson eventually returned to Premiership management in the following season, taking over the reins of West Bromwich Albion after the sacking of Roberto di Matteo. He took the Throstles from one place above the relegation zone to an eventual tenth placed finish at the end of the season when the FA came calling for Hodgson to take over the England side after the departure of Fabio Capello.
Apart from the above mentioned Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, and also Moyes who was almst sucked in on two or three occaisions but escaped, there were two further exceptions, Joe Kinnear at Wimbledon and Alan Curbishley at Charlton Athletic
Joe Kinnear (LMA Manager of the Year – 1994).
Despite a tiny transfer budget and tiny gates at their tiny Plough Lane home of the time, Kinnear took Wimbledon to an excellent sixth placed finish in the Premiership, and was rightly rewarded with the first ever LMA Award in 1994 for his efforts. Unlike the managers mentioned above though, catastrophe didn’t follow in the wake of Kinnear’s win, and the ‘Dons continued punching above their weight under Kinnear for several more years, with the club finishing in an almost as respectable ninth the following season.
It was a heart scare before a league game against Sheffield Wednesday in March 1999 which eventually ended Kinnear’s reign at the home of the Wombles. After eventually returning to the Premiership after a shock appointment as manager of Newcastle United almost ten years after, his heart problems returned to haunt him. On the 7th February 2009, Kinnear was admitted to hospital after a cardiac episode hours before Newcastle United’s away game against West Bromwich Albion. His then assistant, Chris Hughton, lead the Magpies to a 3-2 victory in the match. However, in a misguided attempt to save the club by bringing in the totally inexperienced Alan Shearer as some kind of galvanising figurehead, with his assistant Iain Dowie doing most of the actual coaching, Newcastle United eventually succumbed to relegation in the last game of the season after a 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa.
Alan Curbishley (LMA Manager of the Year – 2000).
Like Steve Coppell’s first LMA award, Alan Curbishley’s in 2000 wasn’t awarded for achievement in the Premiership, but for getting Charlton Atheltic promoted from the Championship. This wasn’t for the first time as he had already managed to get them promoted through the lower leagues to the Premiership, eventually reaching the top division in dramatic style after a 4-4 Championship playoff final which Charlton eventually won 7-6 on penalties. However they were relegated after their first season and Curbishley had to repeat the feat in the 1999-2000 season, this time as champions.
Charlton went on to finish 14th in that season, but despite being relative minnows, Curbishley kept the Addicks in the Premiership until his departure from the club in 2006. From that point, Charlton fell into decline under the stewardship of lesser managers such as Iain Dowie, Les Reed, Alan Pardew and Phil Parkinson, eventually finding themselves in League One by the 2009-10 season. Thankfully for them, the admirable Chris Powell has subsequently steered tham back up to the Championship after winning the League One Championship last season.
Meanwhile, Curbishley went on to save his old club West Ham from seemingly certain relegation under the abovementioned Pardew, winning seven of their last nine games and leadin West Ham to a top ten finish the following season. However, Curbishley walked from the club less after less then two years in a row over the manager’s control of players moving in an out of the club in a situation which mirrored that of Kevin Keegan at Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United. He hasn’t worked in management since, though he occaisionally pops up as a TV football pundit.
In the balance.
Alan Pardew? (LMA Manager of the Year – 2012, Premiership Manager of the Season 2011-12).
After an excellent practice run with West Ham, where the Silver Supremo followed ninth and a Cup Final appearence with an awful season which included West Ham’s worst run of defeats in over 70 years, Pardew was eventually sacked as the club seemingly faced almost certain relegation. As mentioned above, West Ham were subsequently saved at the eleventh hour by Alan Curbishley. Meanwhile, the Silver Supremo himself eventually made an unlikely return from the wilderness of the lower leagues. After being sacked by the then League One Southampton, he was sensationally appointed as manager after popular Chris Hughton was sacked as manager of Newcastle United, a thankyou from Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias for rescuing the club from Championship obscurity and re-establishing them in the Premiership.
As Newcastle United made series of prudent signings hunted down by Hughton appointed chief scout, Graham Carr, Pardew led the club to a twelfth place finish, followed by an excellent fifth placed finish which returned the side to European football for the first time since Glenn Roeder’s Intertoto Cup winning “Dream Team” managed the feat in 2006. However, in the season after winning the trophy, the Magpies now find themselves at a lowly sixteenth in the Premiership after 23 games, with the club notching up only five victories and six draws along with twelve losses.
Though he is still Newcastle United’s manager, his position is seeming hanging on a slender thread.
Please forgive me dear reader, for my piece so far has been something of a deception as I don’t really believe in curses to be honest. The real reasons for the above managers’ spectacular falls from grace may well be a moot point, but it could well be that old cliche of the “surprise package,” the unknown quantity who takes the established order by surprise for a while, then is found out. It is then the depth of the manager’s knowledge is truly tested, and those without that depth, without an abilty to change their game they fall by the wayside. As for our own Silver Supremo, as I mentioned above this isn’t the first time. As a Mirror piece from September 2009 observed:
“As West Ham toiled in the second tier of English football in 2005, Pardew came under intense scrutiny. He had arrived at Upton Park from Reading in September 2003, taking over from Glenn Roeder who had overseen West Ham’s relegation from the top flight. This was no job for the faint-hearted. Pardew was one of a new breed of English managers, all positive lingo, blue-sky thinking and catchy slogans – for West Ham’s play-off semi-final against Ipswich in 2004, he wore a t-shirt with ‘Moore than a football club’ written on the front.
“The future when all is going well, but football’s answer to David Brent when it’s not. West Ham lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace in the final and Pardew attracted ire for taking off his three strikers when in desperate need of a goal…”