[written by BLAKE KEE WEI]
Little over a year ago, there were numerous articles, posts and forums regarding the longevity (or lack of) among Barclays Premier League managers. Arsene Wenger, David Moyes and of course, Sir Alex Ferguson, managers of Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United respectively, were the only managers that have stayed with the same club for 10 years or more. 16 years at Arsenal for Wenger, 11 years at Everton for Moyes and a legendary 27 years at Manchester United for Sir Alex. Being the only managers that portrayed managerial longevity, they have by far been the most successful managers for their respective clubs.
This season however, has seen a huge change in the cosmic worlds of football. Sir Alex Ferguson has retired at the age of 71; and taking his place at Manchester United – ironically – is David Moyes. One cannot doubt the longevity of Manchester United as Sir Alex retired as opposed to being sacked. And concurrently, one cannot criticize David Moyes because nobody turns down a job offer from Manchester United Football Club. This would mean that the only manager that has stayed in the same football club for any more than 10 years in the Premier League is Arsene Wenger.
In this age of football, job security is hard to come by in a football manager’s life. Massively sponsored clubs with never-satisfied owners such as Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich and Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez constantly want change due to the uneven ratio between money invested into the club and the club’s success. In the past 5 years, Chelsea Football Club has had 8 different managers, while Manchester City has had 5. This very statistic has shown a huge change in the world of football in the 21st century. When Sir Alex took over Manchester United in 1986, he proceeded to lose his very first game in charge and was held to a goalless draw in his second. Manchester United however, stayed patient and backed Sir Alex. Almost 30 years have passed and Sir Alex has become a legend in the world of football.
Today, a start like that would put on mountains on a manager’s shoulders. In comparison to Sir Alex’s early statistics, Rafael Benitez, part-time manager at Chelsea in 2013, recorded a goalless draw in his very first game, and then proceeded to fail to progress from the group stages of the UEFA Champions League immediately after. Sure enough, Rafael Benitez didn’t even make it to a year at Chelsea football club.
If football managers come and go with such ease, the same is doubly true for the players themselves. In the recent 13/14’ season of the Barclays Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur have spent a record £100million on transfers in, while Spanish giants Real Madrid made a record signing of Welsh star winger Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur worth £86million. In a recent interview, Arsene Wenger criticized clubs like Tottenham for their lack of believing in home grown talent. “Isn’t a manager’s job to breed and help a player grow – instead of just buying the best players from all over the world?” he said. Arsene Wenger of course, is known for his lack of spending and the knack of turning young and talented players into some of the best in the world. Superstars today such as Robin van Persie, Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas all came under Arsene Wenger’s guidance.
The beginning of this free-spending habit in the Premier League started when Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea in 2003. Ever since then, clubs such as Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have followed suit in abusing their funds. Players and managers alike come and go and money is being thrown around like it is of no value. It is the end of an era where traits such as patience and loyalty are valued. Much like the music industry, authenticity no longer exists. One can only wonder what will happen after Arsene Wenger retires from Arsenal. Will the football world be all about commercializing and who has the most money and the biggest stadiums? Who is going to make sure that young and/or late bloomers will grow into the right attitudes and fully live up to their potential?
Is football going to be all about money and fame, and not the beautiful passing game?