Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola recently scooped the award for FIFA’s Best Manager of the year, and as much as he gets the congratulatory messages now, the job has only grown tougher for other entrants in the field.
Pep, like every other manager, has also experienced heated moments in his career. However, this article is not just about Pep Guardiola, but rather every gaffer in modern football and the struggles that are accumulated from taking charge of a football club in today’s world.
In recent times, the position of the manager has proven too delicate, steered club administrator’s dilemma and increased supporter keenness for replacements. In 2023, Mirror UK recorded that 13 Premier League managers were fired thereby increasing the dreadfulness attached to managerial hotseats.
How much demand is required of the position in a modern era and why does it get tougher to oversee a football club?
The Introduction of Football Agents
When players representatives like sports agents were introduced in the early 1990s, managerial responsibilities expanded to accommodate more entrants in the sports business. Of course, it also increased the level of scrutiny managers suffered as players now had extensions to their welfare and income.
Former Manchester United gaffer, Sir Alex Ferguson frequently expressed his disinterest in the jobs of player agents during his time at Old Trafford. As he claims, player fragility had been a big impact of personal representatives.
In 2011, after a contract dispute with star striker, Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex reiterated about the importance of the manager in club administration
In his words; “the most important person at Manchester United is the manager.
“When I get annoyed is when managers phone me and say such-and-such player – and I’m talking about players who couldn’t lace my reserve‑team players’ boots – is asking for £1m a year. That’s when it becomes disappointing … the way some agents work a miracle by getting these terms for players who are not stars.
“At United I think most of my first-team players deserve what they’re getting. They’re playing in front of 75,000 people every week, they’re achieving, successful, good footballers, honest professionals. They produce on the field, they bring people into the grounds, and they deserve it. But there are some players at other clubs who get paid enormous amounts of money and I don’t know why.”
Improved Knowledge of Fans
There has certainly been an increment in the level of understanding fans garner from participating in football related activities, learning via analytical videos and educational football games.
This explains the rampant idea that many football fans have about their management knowledge. Publicly criticizing managers team selection and providing what they consider the way forward. Many times, their impatience and short-shortsightedness leads them to hasty demands that could logically worsen their predicaments.
However, on few other occasions, their frequent demands for changes might be just the fix required of club directors to sporting lags. Although the presence of knowledgeable supporters in the running of a football club is important, it still toughens the manager’s responsibility – creating more positions for accountability.
Persistent demands for reformation expedited the axing of former Chelsea boss, Graham Potter despite a £550M spending spree in the transfer market the team looked relatively sub-par on the pitch. Although club president, Todd Boehly maintained his faith in the gaffer’s philosophy, club chiefs, some players and fans had lost believe in his system.
According to a Sky Sport official, Kaveh Solhekol; “Todd Bohely was instrumental in appointing Potter – he’s the one that has been backing him and keeping him in the job. Other senior people at Chelsea wanted to make this change earlier but ultimately they weren’t able to make that decision until now.
“A Chelsea manager is usually someone with a massive personality, big ego and a CV with lots of trophies on it. It was a shock when they sacked Tuchel – he had won three trophies in 20 months including the Champions League.
“A big issue is the fact Chelsea players have a lot of power and you need a big personality to manage them and to work with them.
A More Transparent Media Presence
Football as a sport has grown more popular over the years and the role of the media is burgeoning. Relaying a closer experience for interested parties, the popularity of the game is mostly attributed to its level of media presence.
As sporting activities begin to present themselves in ubiquity with entertainment, its relevance establishes a permanency in the hearts of any medium. This in turn augments the exposure of football managers to scrutiny and unavoidable criticisms when things go bad.
Club administrators are also placed in tricky situations and need a lot of understanding of a manager’s ability to support the team’s project. This sometimes explains why some top clubs like Chelsea, Barcelona, Ajax, etc experience constant unsteadiness in performances.
The role played by the media in exposing almost every possible dealing of a football club thus coagulates the liberty of the manager. Everyone tends to have and air opinions on what the coach is doing wrongly.
Social media has also opened up a lot of activities springing up in the locker room, broadcast media production of sport documentary videos where fans can educate themselves on how some teams build a winning mentality, TV series like Ted Lasso, The Kicks, All or nothing: Arsenal et cetera have also contributed to the rate of media exposing what goes on off the pitch.
This close relationship with persons outside club control further toughens a manager’s duties. Hence, he is left with his instincts and guts.