x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

It is time to change the sack race rules

Managers should be on rolling 12-24-month contracts with an extra six-month deal as a maximum to accommodate resignations during the season.

The managerial merry-go-round, as it is so eloquently put, strikes twice in the same day. Now is it just me, or is it now getting a bit too tedious? First the dreaded axe fell on Tony Adams who failed to step out of Harry Redknapp's shadow at Portsmouth. After a mere 104 days in charge, the south coast of England club are now looking for their third manager this season.

Then Luiz Felipe Scolari suffers the same fate at Chelsea. Sadly this is becoming too much of a regular occurrence that is blighting the English game. Adams and Scolari are the 29th and 30th managers, from the 92 English clubs to depart this season. The chances are they may not be the last. In the case of Adams it would be too easy to fall into the same monotonous trap and discuss the usual topics when an ex-professional fails as a manager, just like around the time that another former England international, Paul Ince, was dumped by Blackburn after 17 games in charge.

Chelsea, on the other hand, have no excuses. They were pining for Big Phil before the unfortunate Avram Grant had been sent his P45. It is always amusing to hear that when a manager or even a player signs a new contract they are handed a lengthy spell. For example, Marcus Bent signed a three-and-a-half year deal with Birmingham City in the summer. The player has had 11 clubs. He may stick it out with the Blues, but it is ludicrous that "journeymen" are tied to such a length.

Managers are the same. Apart from the "old guard" such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and now you can probably include Rafael Benitez and David Moyes, it is unlikely that a manager will see out that four-year deal he penned with the delighted looking chairman. A solution needs to be found to stem the tide of coaches being shunted around. The era of managers enjoying a lengthy spell at one club is all but over. The modern game does not allow it any more.

But it is also important to stop the fly-by-night managerial stints that get clubs, fans and managers nowhere. The analytics of this are an interesting brew. Football has developed a "throwaway" mentality if a winning formula is not attained. Football still has the same dynamics as it has always had. There will one winner and there will be three teams relegated. The financial pressure on retaining Premier League status is paramount.

That is the main problem: instant success is the main driver. England's League Managers' Association need to accept this and then broker a deal that in the real world happens all the time. Managers should be on a rolling 12-24-month contract with an extra six month deal as a maximum to accommodate resignations during the season. This way, club owners and chairmen can set out goals that a manager agrees to and if he does not reach them then the owner can find someone else at the end of the contract.

It would give managers enough time to assemble a squad that can attain the targets they signed to, it safeguards new coaches from not being given the chance to develop and it would be the right length of time to quench the thirst of on-the-spot gratification. I am sure Adams did not reach the expectations of the Pompey board. But with a cluster of clubs still fighting to avoid the drop down to oblivion, a late surge could seem them shoot up the table.

The board at Stamford Bridge get no sympathy for their actions. Grant was one kick away from handing them the Champions League. His successor, it seems, has taken them backwards. My model could be a winner for all parties concerned. At least then, managers know where they stand. snelmes@thenational.ae