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Friday, June 24, 2011

Flavour Of The Month

Torquay's appointment of Martin Ling as their new boss has Nobes talking about how quickly a manager's stock can change.

Martin Ling is back in League Two via League One and a spell in the Conference

In a rare expression of humility, new Torquay boss Martin Ling admitted that he still has things to prove to people in the game.

For a man entering a division he's already won promotion out of before, it was a refreshingly honest expression of his own disappointment with an 18 month spell at Conference side Cambridge.

Indeed, it could be argued that in some ways, the 44-year-old is fortunate to have been given the opportunity to succeed Paul Buckle.

His spell at Cambridge was hugely underwhelming, as he failed to hit the heights of play off final appearances his immediate predecessors Jimmy Quinn and Gary Brabin both delivered.

After the way his tenure at Leyton Orient came to a close, coupled with his struggles at the Abbey Stadium, it's entirely plausible that the Londoner could have been waiting much longer for another job.

Now though he has the chance to remind people why he was so highly thought of for the the way his Leyton Orient side played their way out of the basement division in 2006.

In the five years since, he has seen his stock rise to the point where he was being linked with a move to a bigger club in Swindon only to plummet to as low as successive P45s.

It is the nature of the managerial stock where bosses who find themselves the current flavour of the month can soon lose their appeal with a few results going the wrong way.

In many ways it's a sad indictment of the state of today's game, where those both on the inside and outside of football are so quick to rush to judgements - whether positive or negative.

From the striker destined for the top after a good goalscoring run, to the young homegrown manager being tipped as a candidate for the national team job after a couple of promotions.

Then again, on the flip side you have the boss in need of the sack after a sticky spell of form or the player who'll never amount to anything after failing to impress early on.

Such hastiness could have long term negative consequences for the game though. After all, fifty per cent of first time managers never get a second opportunity to prove their worth? How can that be right?

By the same token, countless number of clubs have rushed in to extend a manager's contract after a good spell - only to have to pay out thousands of pounds in compensation when they fire him later on. That's poor business.

Not that it's football's problem, but society's in general. This impulsive way of running clubs - sacking and hiring almost on a whim has helped develop a culture of impatience and a demand for instant results.

Of course, it's true to say that some managers do just prove to be flashes in the pan - over hyped frauds who soon find themselves exposed.

It's easy to forget that, when Aidy Boothroyd took Watford into the Premier League in 2006, the Yorkshireman was being touted for the England manager's job. He's now not even in club management.

Iain Dowie was once a rising star in management, but after enjoying a good spell at Crystal Palace he's flattered to deceive in numerous jobs - particularly at Charlton.

Can Eddie Howe expect to follow Harry Redknapp's path in today's impulsive climate?

Others prove to be managers who struggle to recreate their successful period at one club - where everything seemed to come together - in future posts.

Steve Tilson guided Southend to successive promotions to the Championship and saw his name being linked to the then vacant manager's role at Norwich.

Southend tumbled back down to the basement division though, and he moved on. Now, next season, he'll be managing in the Conference with Lincoln - after failing to keep the Imps in the Football League last season.

It's easy to forget that the likes of Gary Johnson and Paul Simpson were once seen as managers whose career were destined for the top. Both made it as far as the Championship, but have gone backwards ever since.

Johnson is now at fourth tier Northampton, via a short spell at Peterborough, having once been 90 minutes away from the Premier League with Bristol City.

Simpson, in charge of Carlisle when the Cumbrians recorded back-to-back promotions, had Preston in the top six of the Championship for the majority of the 2006/7 season.

His career has nosedived in the following years, and is now out of work after being sacked from jobs in League Two at Shrewsbury and Stockport.

It's an ominous warning to some of the current bright stars of management. Keith Hill has left the comfortable surroundings of Rochdale to test his ability at Championship Barnsley.

Paul Tisdale has remained loyal to Exeter, but his achievements on a budget as well as his brand of passing football has attracted the interest of clubs higher up the football ladder. He will surely move on soon.

Eddie Howe found himself a man in demand by an array of Championship clubs after a remarkable couple of years at Bournemouth. He's now at the helm of Burnley, who will expect a push for the Premier League in the coming season.

Howe may well deliver it, but it's easy to forget that he's only a 33-year-old with just over two years experience in his job. It seems unfair to pick on the genial Clarets boss, but let us use him as an example.

If he was to fail to bring promotion to Turf Moor, what would the verdict be? A young manager promoted too quickly? Or a young manager still learning in his job and whom had shown promise earlier in his career which could still bear fruit?

And here's the crucial point. For those who complain about the fact that the England national team is managed by a foreigner, the reality is that there is a dearth of talented homegrown managers for the job.

That's because too many never get the opportunity to manage in the big time, with their careers snuffed out after a bad turn. They climb so far only to fall back down again.

In all likelihood, it will be the Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp who will take on the job in the near future. It will come almost 30 years after he began, at what is now League Two level, with Bournemouth.

What are the chances that Howe will follow the same course though? Will he be afforded the chance to manage in the Premier League or even England? Or will he, like so many before him, never live up to all the promise and potential?

Or, more accurately, never be given the opportunity to live up to all the promise and potential? That's all any manager - whether they've previously succeeded or failed -
can ask for, the chance to prove themselves all over again.

Just ask Martin Ling.

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  2. Edward John Frank "Eddie" Howe is an English former footballer and manager. A defender before retirement who spent much of his career at Bournemouth, he was the youngest manager in the Football League
    Born: November 29, 1977 (age 36), Amersham, United Kingdom
    Height: 1.80 m
    Spouse: Vicki Howe
    Position: Defender
    Siblings: Steve Lovell
    Nominations: Outstanding Managerial Performance

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