This past week has seen the unfortunate axing of two English managers from England’s premier division. First Chris Hughton of Newcastle was sacked in shocking fashion only then for ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce to be dumped by the new owners of Blackburn Rovers. Both managers have steered their respective previous employers to Premier League mid-table security having taken the helms in far more adverse circumstances.
Allardyce, rather a stalwart of Premiership football, has taken Blackburn from relegation certainties to mid-table security in his relatively short stay at the club. This turnaround in fortunes is all the more admirable given the shoestring budget afforded to ‘Big Sam’ amongst the inflated mega-money climate that has dominated the transfer markets of recent seasons. While the likes of Manchester City have had the financial scope for spending well into the eight-figure territory on big-money flops, Allardyce’s ‘big’ signings have come at a tenth of the price. However, one would argue as much improvement has been evident in his stay at the club as there has been at Eastlands since their rise to financial prominence. If management is meant to be a ‘results business’ then Allardyce should still be in the hot-seat.
The likes of Sir Alex Ferguson have come to Allardyce’s support labelling the decision “absolutely ridiculous”, meanwhile, the whole footballing community are mourning the departure of Hughton. The toon faithful have for so long yearned for the sort of stability Bobby Robson provided them with only for it once again to be snatched away from them. Football management is renowned for it’s ruthless nature, however, Ashley’s actions have gone beyond this into the realms of insanity.
Hughton’s managerial experience has come under the microscope of the owners at St.James’ Park and though experience is indeed thin on the ground as a a manager his record is outstanding. He has led Newcastle to promotion from the Championship and up into the heady heights of mid-table status in the Premier League in a tenure that has sadly lasted just eighteen months, also, he boasts a convincing win percentage of over fifty percent. Does past experience really matter when he has brought nothing other than success to the club? His reign has seen a title win and the notable Premier League wins of 1-0 away to arsenal and 5-1 at home to fierce rivals Sunderland, clearly this just isn’t good enough for owner Mike Ashley.
Another bone of contention in the Hughton saga surrounds the issue of race. Having guided the club back to the top flight he became only the second black English manager ever to lead a Premiership outfit. The first, Paul Ince, endured a torrid time as Allardyce’s predecessor at Ewood Park sacked within a few months with his side rooted to the foot of the table. Though the eventual outcome of his reign was marred with failure the very fact that he had been appointed was celebrated as a ground breaking moment for the black community within the game. Ince has this week spoken out in support of Hughton who he believed had done “a remarkable job in such a short space of time.” Quite right too.
Rarely has there been such collective uproar in response to the axe-wielding of football’s money men as we have witnessed this week. Where now can aspiring young members of the black community gain inspiration if their role models are being so negligently treated? Reckless decisions like these can impact upon the hopes and dreams of so many and are taken far too lightly.
Festive spirit is in short supply it seems, however, it is clear that Sam Allardyce and Chris Hughton have left behind a legacy with each club and the fans will forever look fondly upon these two fine English managers.