The Mike Ireson Column

Well wasn’t that a sight to behold?

No I’m not talking about our long overdue victory (although of course it was very welcome and pleasing), I’m talking about Slaven Bilic on the touchline, rain bucketing down and him, resplendent in a jumper and smart trousers like he was taking a late summer evening stroll down by the beach.

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He had started off sporting the standard issue West Ham blazer but when this turned out to be more absorbent than the most efficient sponge known to man, he discarded it. Then, as usual, he prowled and paced the technical area, oblivious to the downpour, almost daring it to rain harder and throw in a bit of thunder and lightning.

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This kind of thing makes me like him that bit more. I want to like our manager, whoever that might be.

It doesn’t feel quite right when the man steering the ship isn’t your sort of guy. And lets face it we’ve had our fair share of the type of manager that you just can’t really like.

And it isn’t just us, I’m sure fans of every other club too would prefer to have a manager who just feels right. We, after all, invest our lives in this club and as we trundle along that journey we want to do so with people we feel share our passion. Can you imagine every manager we have being an Avram Grant? Jesus wept.

Slaven obviously had a hand in sealing the impression of another manager as one who you just couldn’t warm to. I am of course referring to the wally with the brolly, Steve McClaren.

That infamous night 10 years ago at Wembley where Slaven, then Croatia manager, strode around the touchline in the rain with no protection and McClaren chose to shelter under an umbrella. Slaven giving the impression, as he did on Monday, that he was prepared to take the soaking with the players and show a bond and unity.

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McClaren was ridiculed for being a wimp under the brolly.

This was of course more to do with hair than anything else. McClaren thought then, as he does now, that by overgrowing and over styling the remaining 14 strands of hair in the middle of your head that we would all think he still has a full head of hair, and a normal fringe.

Should such a downpour effect itself upon the McClaren head then this elaborate smoke and mirrors deception would be cruelly exposed to the world. Steve, save yourself a ton of money in hairspray and just give it up mate.

Monday’s victory also saved us from getting dragged in to a media hyped Crystal Palace type saga. We would have looked as foolish as they did by hitting the panic button after just 4 games.

The major lesson to be learned here is that there are very few candidates out there to replace your manager should you decide to give them the old heave ho.

Frank De Boer is further example that being successful elsewhere is no preparation for the Premier League. It takes time to adjust and time to adapt a team to play a different way. Time he didn’t get. And who have Palace now turned to? Well they have rescued Roy Hodgson from a retirement home somewhere on the south coast and he is now charged with turning round a failing Premier League team rather than waiting for the tea and custard creams to be brought round before the afternoon games of bingo and carpet bowls.

No disrespect to Roy, but who does the next team to sack their manager turn to? Kevin Keegan? Terry Venables?

Steve – dust your brolly off.


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