In these days of madness, when a football managerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s job is one of the most precarious professions in the world of employment it is heartwarming indeed to see the story coming out of Reading Football Club yesterday.
Following the clubÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s relegation from the Premier League it has been announced that their manager Steve Coppell will remain in charge of the team as they attempt to bounce back up to the top division at the first attempt. What makes the story particularly pleasing, and unusual, is that it appears that it was the Chairman, John Madejski, who persuaded Coppell to stay rather than Coppell who persuaded the chairman not to sack him.
Whilst we have the ridiculous situation at Chelsea where manager Avram Grant could easily lose his job even he leads his club to Champions League glory tonight, it is nice to see a club sticking by their manager.
In the past season in England we have seen Sam Allardyce lose his job at Newcastle after just a few months, with his side in mid-table. Billy Davies was unceremoniously dumped by Derby County after only a few disappointing games in the Premier League so soon after taking them to promotion. Of course, Jose Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea, presumably because they lost a game, Martin Jol by Tottenham, Chris Hutchens by Wigan, Sammy Lee by Bolton and Lawrie Sanchez by Fulham.
The next casualty is likely to be Sven Goran Eriksson who is expected to be removed from his job at Manchester City despite taking them to their best finish in the Premier League for many years.
In terms of football management and the demands to be successful and make money, the world really has gone mad.
All of these managers have lost their jobs because of the insistence and need for immediate success. Of the managers that have been sacked, only Martin Jol and Jose Mourinho were given a full season in charge. How managers are expected to succeed in just a few weeks or months I have no idea. What does this say for the competence of the Chairmen that employed the manager in the first place? It is rarely the chairman who steps down, it is always the manager who takes the blame.
So against this background, one could quite rightly have reasonably expected Steve Coppell to be shown the exit door at Reading. The fact that he had done a remarkable job to take Reading to promotion from the Championship in 2006 and then even more remarkably take them to an eighth placed finish in their first season in the Premiership, would make no difference. He would be judged on his performance this year when the season slowly unraveled for the club and they were relegated on the last day of the season despite a big win at Derby.
It appears that CoppellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s job was never in doubt and that it was left up to him as to whether he stayed in the role or not. Coppell said yesterday, “I’m very pleased to be staying. After the end of the season I needed time to reflect and think about what was the best course of action for both myself and for Reading Football Club.”
Chairman John Madejski said, “I’m delighted to say Steve Coppell has come to terms with us and is honouring his contract to stay for another term. The vast majority of people thought he would have gone if we went down but he hasn’t and he wants to see the job through. He now has a job to get us back into the Premier League again.”
He also went on to say how excited he is about the challenge of next season. “With Steve Coppell once again at the helm, we anticipate an exciting and memorable season. We hope to have as many Reading fans right behind us as we aim to win promotion back to the Premier League.”
It seems that a vast majority of the Reading fans wanted Coppell to stay and that their support influenced his decision. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure there are many supporters of clubs around England who wish that the Chairman of their club showed this much loyalty to their manager.
This is a victory for common sense. It is rare indeed for common sense to prevail in the football world when it comes to chairmen and managers. I, for one, am very pleased with what has happened at Reading and I wish Madejski, Coppell and the club all the luck in the world for next season as they battle for second place behind my beloved Watford!
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