You might be forgiven for thinking that being a lion tamer or being a truck driver on the ice roads is the most dangerous job in the world. You’d be wrong, though: the most dangerous job in the world is undoubtedly that of a football manager.
When Grant McCann lost his job as Peterborough boss in February, he might be forgiven for not seeing it coming. Within hours, Steve Evans resigned at Mansfield and was seen in the directors’ box at London Road. He takes over a side three points outside the League One play-off race with a game in hand. That record earned McCann the boot, a record that might have saved Uwe Rosler from the boot at Fleetwood a couple of weeks earlier.
Even with just a couple of months of the season left, chairmen are still rolling the dice and making rash decisions. Evans arrival could usurp any positivity that McCann had built up, or it might boost Posh on to the Championship. Which is more likely though? Evans leaves a bit of a pickle down in League Two, he’s spent big money at Mansfield and leaves them embroiled in a promotion battle of their own.
They’re not the only League Two side now looking for a manager; Grimsby Town dispensed with Russell Slade’s services for a second time after they failed to win a game since last year. Their chairman calls this the most important managerial decision he’s ever had to make. It might well be the most important since Slade became their third manager of last season, or until the next guy comes along looking to get them out of the National League.
In all, 34 managers have resigned or been sacked this season, out of 92 league clubs. With a survival rate of fewer than one in three, surely there’s no surprise that there is a shortage of up and coming managers? Why would anyone want to ply their trade in our country? Even when a job comes up, the same names seem to be recycled over and over again.
Phil Brown (five jobs to date) was sacked at Southend before Christmas after a dismal spell, but has now been linked with Peterborough, Grimsby and Mansfield despite fundamentally failing at Roots Hall. Alan Pardew, favourite to be sacked next and leave his seventh job, seems to turn up again and again. If he doesn’t, you may well find him being linked with the vacant Oxford job before long.
Even Antonio Conte, a decorated manager with one of Europe’s top club, is odds-on to leave Chelsea in the summer. He’s not just likely to be sacked, but there are already numerous Paddy Power offers available on markets on who will replace him – before he’s even gone. Luis Enrique is the favourite in that market, as is he in the ‘next Spanish manager to be sacked’ market.
Betting on which manager is going to be on the jobcentre website next is fast becoming the most fashionable market to be involved in. If you were at Peterborough, you might have known McCann was under pressure. The football world wouldn’t, to the outsider he seemed to be doing well. Such is the lure of the market. There will be some on the inside who knew Evans had been approached by Peterborough which is why he was immediately installed as favourite.
One thing is for sure, with 34 casualties already this season, you’d be safer tossing raw meat into the mouths of hungry tigers, or manhandling 70-tonne rigs at breakneck speeds across roads made of ice. Perhaps someone should tell that to Alan Pardew before he walks into another football club for an unsuccessful eight-month stint.