Sep 12 2013
The Mexican National soccer team has recently fired its head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre, following its world cup qualifying loss to the U.S., hiring Victor Manuel Vucetich to replace him. This is the third coaching change that the Mexican National team has made this past week. The decision to fire coaches as the immediate response to poor results has become all too common throughout sports, especially soccer. Coaches aren’t given the time to set their foundation, develop their players, and build team chemistry around their game plan. They are expected to win, and to win as soon as they step into the office. But is this constant shuffling of coaches good for teams who want success and to see their investments pan out? A report published by the League Managers Association showed that of the 92 professional teams in all levels of the Premier League, 63 of them made managerial changes: with 43 firings and 20 resignations in 2012-2013. The average tenure for a manager is only 2.81 years, which includes the outlier of Arsene Wenger who’s been at Arsenal for 17 years. Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner, has a reputation with committing knee jerk reactions when it comes to managers. Under his ownership, he has had as many managers as Chelsea had the previous 70 years.
I believe that this tradition of firing coaches as soon as any sign of failure becomes present is ruining the game of soccer. A strong relationship between players and coaches is an essential aspect in building stability and chemistry within the team. The manager needs time to build a rapport with his players in order to figure out each individual’s preferences and playing style so that he can fit each piece into his game plan. Even players realize the importance of playing on a team with stability, which comes from an established coach that has a long, strong bond with his team. Neymar was one of the biggest and sought after names this past summer with his eventual decision being to move to Barcelona. One of the main reasons why he chose the La Liga team over another Premier League team was that he wanted stability. The Premier League has gained a reputation of seeing coaches as easily replaceable, and being a quick fix to any problems. If this trend continues, with players like Neymar opting for other leagues, the Premier League teams will have to seriously think about how they view their managers.
Sir Alex Ferguson, arguably one of the greatest soccer managers of all time, needed four years to win his first trophy with 12 Premier League titles and two Champions League titles soon following. Manchester United stuck with their manager even though results weren’t panning out because they realized the need of stability and the time it takes for a truly great manager to build a foundation for his team. Most of the successful teams not only in soccer but in all sports generally have had long tenured managers that started out with limited success. Another explicit example of this case comes from a Coach very important to me as a Duke student. Coach Krzyzewski of the Duke Basketball team had two losing seasons in his first three years before establishing himself as one of the best coaches of all time. Although most teams want to see immediate results and hope that new coaches are a quick fix, a true, long lasting investment takes time to establish. For the sake of soccer, and the many teams aiming for success, I hope that these teams start to put stability as their number one priority and realize the importance of a commitment with a manager.
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