He’s often seen as a managerial enigma. Some see him as a tactical genius, while others say he can only buy success. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’, Jose Mourinho, has amassed 21 trophies in his career; the Champions League, Europa League, domestic titles and cups from Portugal, England, Italy and Spain. The soon to be Manchester United manager certainly has decent grounds for argument against anyone who contests he isn’t one of the best managers in the world. You’ll be pleased to know, this article won’t be focussing on what Mourinho brings to Manchester United, nor the impact his employment will have on West Ham. Instead, it’s to analyse a quote taken from his interview with Gentleman’s Journal;
“I think the managers are the only ones that want stability. Nobody else wants stability. Agents don’t want stability – stability doesn’t make money. What makes money is instability. Players, they don’t want stability. Players want to be in the market. They want to go to better clubs. The media don’t want stability. Stability doesn’t sell. Clubs – some want stability.”
Take from that what you will. You can agree with it or disagree with it but one thing can’t be argued, it raises some interesting points. There’s no denying the fact that the notion of stability has wavered amongst football clubs in England in recent times. Whether it’s financial, managerial, stability amongst players, styles or as we’ve recently found out, location, absurd amounts of money and desire for instant success mean things change far too often in what is now loosely referred to as ‘the beautiful game’. It may seem obvious to those who pay to watch their club play every week that sticking to a plan and having the confidence to see it through could lead to success, yet the multi-million pound owners seem intent on changing things the minute it doesn’t go exactly how they planned.
Leeds United is one example of a club that love a managerial shake-up. The blame may lie with their crazed owner owner, Massimo Cellino, but they have sacked a staggering six managers (assuming Steve Evans will soon be out the door) in less than two years. The stats make more interesting when looked at over a longer period though. In the last 20 years, Watford have hung 17 managers out to dry, Southampton 18 and Crystal Palace 19. When you compare that to the fact that West Ham have had 15 managers in their entire history, it begs the question; why are these managers given just a year to prove their worth?
A lack of stability is perhaps most obvious when looking at managers, but even players nowadays have an incredibly limited amount of time to impress at a new club. Angel Di Maria cost Manchester United nigh on £60m almost two years ago, yet with just one season of Premier League football under his belt, he was shipped off to PSG for a £15m loss. Liverpool shelled out £16m for Mario Balotelli and after 16 appearances, they already appear to have given up on the Italian. These are just two fairly high profile examples, but it’s now seen as the done thing to send a player off on loan after less than a year of plying their trade and give someone else a shot.
Constant changes in football might be most evident amongst those who make the difference on the pitch, but it’s also become a rather frequent occurrence amongst those who make the decisions in the boardroom. I’m not just talking about mega money takeovers at the likes of Manchester City, Leicester and Everton. Aston Villa (who have also recently been taken over) board members David Bernstein and Mervyn King had their feet under the desk for less than two months before deciding to pack up and leave.
So, money may be the overriding factor, but does this approach really work out? Have these clubs that change things up on a consistent basis really achieved the success that they so desperately crave? In a word, no. There may well be evidence to suggest otherwise but I just can’t see it. The hope is that West Ham and our current board implement a different approach and buck the trend of modern football. A change of ground may not sit well with a lot of fans but it’s certainly one that can take the club forward. The challenge will be to guard against the those who benefit most from instability, the agents.
West Ham has the potential to grow as a club and challenge the top four in the Premier League, but only if we hold on to our most valuable assets. In Slaven Bilic, we have a great tactician who knows how to man manage his players. He’s someone we need to stay at the club in order to progress to where we want to be. Whilst rival clubs may become a tempting option for Bilic, they could also potentially nab some of our best players. Reece Oxford is one notable option that, according to the media, could be convinced to make a move for more money (although the claim will be to progress his career). A potential transfer of Dimitri Payet to Real Madrid may seem absurd to some of us but there will always be a seed of doubt, courtesy of the wage figures that get banded around. Manuel Lanzini is only half a season of decent performances away from being linked to here, there and everywhere and I can already predict some January transfer talk of Kouyate to Arsenal when they are still in need of a ball-winning central midfielder.
This article isn’t here to prove a point, I simply want to open up the floor to opinion. Can West Han consider themselves a ‘stable’ football club and if we are, will we remain so? If we want success, is stability the best way to go about achieving it?