Spurs labelled impatient after sacking manager
Andre Villas-Boas has been fired as manager of Tottenham Hotspur after just 17 months in a job he intended to stick with for years. Is the football world addicted to instant gratification?
As the ball flew past Tottenham’s goalkeeper for the fifth time on Sunday afternoon, Andre Villas-Boas clenched his jaw into a miserable grimace. Liverpool had terrorised his expensively-assembled team for 90 minutes, with Spurs offering little in response. When the final whistle blew the stadium rang with boos. ‘AVB out!’ chanted a section of the home support.
Scarcely 12 hours had passed before the discontented fans had got their wish. On Monday morning Villas-Boas was fired as manager of Tottenham Hotspur.
Andre Villas-Boas was failing. Humiliation by Liverpool was the final straw.The reasons for his departure were obvious enough. An ambitious summer of spending, funded by the record-breaking sale of Gareth Bale, had raised expectations about a successful season, but the team’s performances have failed to live up to these hopes. Spurs lie in seventh place in the Premiership, with just 15 goals in their first 16 games. By the logic of the league, Andre Villas-Boas was failing. Humiliation by Liverpool was the final straw.
Yet the sacking immediately met with a furious backlash. He may have been on a bad run, admitted supporters, but AVB’s overall record was formidable. He has won a higher percentage of his games than any Spurs manager since World War Two. If he had been given a chance, perhaps Villas-Boas could have built his seven new signings into a powerful unit. ‘A very short-sighted decision,’ said one fan on Twitter. Others were less polite.
This is about more than just one manager. The Premiership season is less than half complete and four managers have already been fired. Only two in the whole division have been at their clubs for more than two complete seasons.
It was not always this way: it used to be normal for managers to stay at one team for years. But today many football club owners demand instant results. And when a team stutters, their manager is invariably first against the wall.
Harsh but fair, say more ruthless football fans. A leader should always take the blame for failure – not just in football but in any team, from a business to political party. Ultimately it is all about the bottom line.
But others believe that pressure on managers to constantly achieve is a depressing sign that the sport has lost all sense of morality and reason. Owners and fans alike show no interest in the long-term process of building a solid team: they are only concerned with quick fixes and raw results. This obsession with instant gratification, they say, is a sad reflection of the moral mindset of our age.
- Should the failures of a team always be blamed on its leader?
- Should companies show loyalty to their employees even if they are not performing well?
- Role play: imagine you are the board of a sports club that has lost its last five games. Conduct a meeting in which you debate whether to fire the manager.
- Research one person who has gone on to become a celebrated leader after experiencing early humiliations.
Some People Say...
“You’re only as good as your last game.”
What do you think?
Q & A
- Who’d be a manager, eh?
- So they say! Giant salaries go some way towards making up for the extreme stress, of course, but it is one of the most insecure jobs in the world. But it’s not the only career in which you can no longer feel safe.
- What do you mean?
- It used to be very common for people to stay in a single job for their whole working life. Nowadays that’s rare, and many people even switch career paths completely. Some welcome the variety, but you should also be prepared for a less stable working life than your parents and grandparents had.
- That sounds horrible!
- If you hate the idea of instability, there are careers out there for you – usually those that require you to learn a very specific skill that’s always in demand. Medical professionals have very secure jobs, for instance, as do teachers, accountants and bus drivers.
- Andre Villas-Boas
- A Portuguese coach who, unusually for a manager, has never played football professionally. He started his career as an assistant to Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho before winning four trophies with Porto in his second managerial role. He has since been sacked by Chelsea as well as Tottenham after less than a year in charge.
- Tottenham spent roughly £100 million on new players in the summer, buying seven players from seven different leagues. Many of them have struggled to make their mark.
- Gareth Bale
- The Welsh winger was widely hailed as the Premier League’s greatest player last season. But in September he left Tottenham for the Spanish team Real Madrid. English newspapers reported that the fee was £85.3 million; if this is correct it makes him the most expensive footballer of all time.