x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

West Bromwich Albion should have given Roberto Di Matteo time

When West Bromwich Albion sacked Roberto Di Matteo on Sunday, they were panicking and not thinking about the long term.

Roberto Di Matteo was sacked by West Bromwich Albion on Sunday after the club slipped to 13 defeats from their last 18 games. Andrew Yates / AFP
Roberto Di Matteo was sacked by West Bromwich Albion on Sunday after the club slipped to 13 defeats from their last 18 games. Andrew Yates / AFP

Logic says clubs should give their managers an extended period of time at the helm if they want success, writes Thomas Woods

Roberto Di Matteo became the fourth managerial casualty of the Premier League season on Sunday when he was fired by West Bromwich Albion.

With 20 clubs in the league, England has pretty good job security compared to say Italy or even here in the UAE. Remember Dubai's Al Wasl went through four managers in a 22-game Pro League season in 2009.

However, the League Managers' Association (LMA) - which is obviously going to support its members - labelled West Brom's decision "a quick fix panacea" and the result of a "hire-and-fire mentality that pervades the game".

The LMA is right. There is no doubt that giving a manager time to produce results is an effective policy. Just look at the two teams that top the Premier League. Sir Alex Ferguson is into his 24th year at Manchester United and Arsene Wenger has spent 14 years at Arsenal. Admittedly, those are both clubs with the spending power to back their manager for a title push, but the pair have won 14 league titles and nine FA Cups between them.

Famously, in 1990, Ferguson was supposedly one game away from the sack when a Mark Robins goal kept United in the FA Cup with a win over Nottingham Forrest, thus maintaining the club's chances of a trophy that season.

United subsequently won the FA Cup and Ferguson went on to help United dominate the English game. Think about how different English football could have been if the Scottish manager had been sacked four years into the job.

Nobody is putting Di Matteo in the same bracket, but West Brom could have shown more faith in the Italian. In his first year in the job, he took the club back into the Premier League at the first attempt, finishing second in the Championship.

During the summer, Di Matteo spent frugally, with only Peter Odemwingie and Marc-Antoine Fortune commanding fees, both undisclosed.

In September, he was named Premier League Manager of the Month and masterminded a famous win at Arsenal. Yet four months later, he is out of a job.

On the other hand, West Brom are on a run of 13 defeats in 18 games since their fine early season form. They have lost five in a row away from home.

They have had to chase games far too often: if matches finished at half time they would be second bottom with only three wins instead of seven. And they have let in 48 goals, which is worse than any club except Blackpool.

Still, Di Matteo surely had done enough in his previous 16 months in charge to be given the chance to turn things around.

The third-longest serving manager in English football is John Coleman. "Who?" I here you say.

The Liverpudlian is in his 12th year at Accrington Stanley, one of the smallest of England's 92 professional clubs. They average just over 1,000 fans at home games.

But Coleman has managed to keep the club in League Two, the fourth tier, on a shoestring budget since they were promoted in 2006. How? Because he has the backing of the club's owners and can therefore plan further ahead than the next transfer window. West Brom's hierarchy should take note.

 

twoods@thenational.ae