This season, we’ve seen different clubs change their managers and replace them with coaches who are only holding the job till the season is over. At that time, the club management makes a decision that either involves hiring a new manager or they upgrade the caretaker coach to be the permanent manager. I’m here to talk about the latter.
Fulham have resigned themselves to playing Championship football next season so they have let Scott Parker handle first team affairs till the end of the season. Man United have Ole Gunnar Solksjaer at the helm till the summer as well. It is likely that he will be considered for the job full-time…and we have seen it happen many times before.
Unfortunately, not many of these guys usually last long in the job after landing it full-time. Darren Moore lost his job at West Brom, despite finishing last season very strongly and placing West Brom firmly in the race for promotion back to the English Premier League. A bit unfair but the team should have been doing better, given how they started. Di Matteo won 2 trophies in 2012 at Chelsea, and was sacked before 2012 ran out. Shakespeare did so well at Leicester that they let him replace Ranieri on a more permanent basis…before sacking the same man as he directed the club towards relegation, all within a few months.
Over time, we see caretaker manager do so well in the beginning and then fail shortly after. What’s wrong? I’ve noticed a few qualities that could make the difference, and keep such managers in that position for longer.
SIGNINGS: Few things define a manager like the signings he makes. You can hide behind the quality that the previous manager brought in but it becomes your team when you make your own signings. That’s how your quality shines through. When Craig Shakespeare got the Leicester City job after Ranieri was fired, he did ok. When the summer transfer window opened, he went out and got Adrien Silva, Iheanacho, and Iborra. Just Iheanacho remains at the club (the others left, including Shakespeare). Guardiola already had Messi but he got Daniel Alves, who went on to become one of Barcelona’s greatest right-backs.
FOLLOWING UP EARLY SUCCESS: Take Di Matteo at Chelsea. How do you go from winning the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup in 2012, to bowing out from the UEFA Champions’ League at the group stage…in 2012? It’s hard…but building on the early success is key to keeping a permanent manager’s job. Zidane won the UEFA Champions’ League in his first season, and the season after…and the season after. No wonder Real Madrid pulled out all the stops to bring him back barely 8 months after he resigned.
BRINGING YOUTH THROUGH: A Caretaker manager is sometimes a coach who has worked with the young players in the reserves and youth teams. He is more likely to promote a few to the First team. Zidane did it with Diaz, Mayoral, Asensio and even his son Enzo. He still won the league and UEFA Champions League. Guardiola did it with Pedro and Busquets, while Tim Sherwood, at Tottenham, played a huge role in the emergence of a certain Harry Kane.
HANDLING OUT-OF-FAVOUR PLAYERS: This is different from handling the regular starters at the club. Dealing with those who fell out with the previous management is also key. Solksjaer has earned rave reviews for trusting Pereira more while Sherwood brought Adebayor from the dead at Tottenham. The real quality is what you do with the players that are on the fringes.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d like to think that these factors contribute to how a caretaker manager can become a full-time manager.