Why Board Members Must Leave Manager to Do Job

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), January 7, 2015 | Go to article overview

Why Board Members Must Leave Manager to Do Job


Byline: Neil

IT was the former Newcastle United player Len Shackleton who nailed it.

In his excellent 1956 autobiography "The Clown Prince of Soccer", there is a chapter entitled 'The AVERA -age Director's Knowledge of Football.' It consists of a single blank page.

"Quite right, too," said Brian Clough when speaking about this on television when he was in his prime. He spoke for every manager in the game in every corner of the world.

Jock Stein, for me, is the greatest football manager these islands have ever produced.

When appointed Celtic manager in 1965, he was asked to speak to his board about what the team should be for the following Saturday, which so happened to be his first game in charge.

Stein explained this was a difficult one to answer because a certain player was doubtful, another had a cold, there was one more who might be okay but he needed another 24 hours.

"What you are telling us," said his chairman Sir Robert Kelly, "is to mind our own business."

Stein said yes and that weekend he became one of the few managers in British football at that time to select the team without interference from his board. Two years later he won the European Cup.

Even today, you hear about certoday, you hear about cerE -tain clubs in the English lower league where the chairman gets to play Football Manager for real. If he doesn't actually pin the names of the starting XI on the notice board, they at least have a bigger say than they should have on team matters.

Which is any say at all.

That the directors have an influence on who is bought and sold should go without saying. They pay the wages - in their own minds at least, it's actually television money - so this is their department.

And there are, of course, some fine administrators in football who have never kicked a ball in the life.

I have no idea whether David Dein, former vice-chairman of Arsenal, put out a single cone in any training session, but he transformed that club by appointing Arsene Wenger.

Let's be honest, as good a player as he was, I can't see Paul Merson having the vision to bring in some unknown Frenchman.

However, it is the manager, for better or worse, who should have the final say on all transfers, both in and out, and who plays in the actual matches.

The head coach, as Newcastle will have it from now on, is the man who sets out the team, dreams up tactics, drops and picks players after watch-ing them closely every day in training. He will know, or should know, what type of recruit his team need and who they could do without.

ing them closely every day in training. …

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