First Mourinho, now Jol. The most successful managers in their respective club’s recent history, sacked by wealthy club owners who expect too much. And want it too soon. Championship Manager Chairmanship, trumping potentially Champions League Management.
I’d be surprised if there was any fan, of any club, who didn’t in his heart of hearts believe that his team “belonged” in the Premiership’s top four. But the trouble with the top four is that there are only four of them. How close Jol came.
Jol, like Mourinho, is a victim of the “European” club structure – where the coach rubs shoulders and shares power with a “director of football” and, in this case, it seems, sinister others. Jol wanted a good centre-back to cover for Ledley King – and a defensive midfielder – and got Darren Bent. Both Bent and Jol deserved better.
The Premiership has become a difficult place for English players, for British players. Now it is becoming a difficult place for proper football management.
This in a week when Sir Clive Woodward, personification of the modern, forward-looking coach, criticized complicated management structures – “There can only be one leader in the dressing room.”
Management has always been an insecure job, of course. Recently, it looked as though some sanity had broken out – there have been fewer sackings of the traditional Sammy Lee variety, and managers were being given longer to develop their teams. But then, there were fewer appointments of the Sammy Lee variety.
What’s new is that we are seeing the slow, deliberate undermining of good, successful managers, by chairmen and boards, using European-style management structures as political tools. Jol’s situation, and Mourinho’s, was different from that faced by Rafa Benitez, behind whom the first carrion birds are beginning to circle.
Bolton should have waited another week..