Lee and Hutchings Shows History Not Learnt

06 November 2007

To say I was a little bit shocked to see Chris Hutchings was given his P45 today is a bit of an understatement, however given the situation Wigan Athletic see themselves in at the start of the season (8 points from 12 matches, sitting eighteenth, and no points in six on the trot), the change was only a matter of time. However in reading of this latest sacking, it got me wondering. Exactly why do Premier League owners still feel the need to hire assistant managers when the past history has only shown a downward spiral. It’s got me thinking, why do owners go right for assistants? Is it because it’s easy for them to do? Is it because they feel they can continue the success that the preceding manager laid down? Is it because they already know the players, not realizing the players see them more for friends than they do coaches? So who are these number twos who have become manager and what have they done? Let’s take a look.

Alan Smith: Took over when Crystal Palace in 1993 when Crystal Palace were relegated and Steve Coppell resigned. Smith was fine in the old Second Division, getting them promoted on the first attempt. However, they were promptly relegated the following season, Smith getting shown the door. Only getting 36 goals and allowing 93 in 42 games didn’t help that cause either.

Roy Evans: Took over Liverpool in 1994 when Graeme Souness was sacked midseason. The highest he was able to get Liverpool was third in 95-96, winning the League Cup that season. Considering Manchester United won two titles while he was manager and Liverpool weren’t posing a threat to winning the title, at the start of the 98-99 season, Gerard Houllier was brought in to co-manage alongside Evans. Evans left in November when the arrangement got strained as Liverpool finished seventh that season.

Ray Harford: This probably has to be the most famous one. Takes over after Kenny Daglish takes Blackburn to the Premier League title in 94-95. The following seasons they finish seventh, and then sacked two months into the season where they finish thirteenth. Losing Alan Shearer to Newcastle didn’t help his cause either or being bitten with the injury bug. However going into free fall finishing last in your Champions League group or not even coming close to contending doesn’t help your cause.

Harry Redknapp: Promoted to manager after Billy Bonds was sacked prior to the season started, the longest lasting to be promoted from assistant manager. Though never getting West Ham higher than fifth in his seven years as West Ham manager, no one will ever know exactly why he left prior to the end of the 2000-2001 season.

Chris Hutchings: Where to start with him. Always following in Paul Jewell’s footsteps, he takes over Bradford City after Jewell does great escape number 1. Lasts three months there as they were so bad, not even the appointment of Jim Jeffries could keep Bradford City up. Immediately ran right back to Jewell at Wigan Athletic and as mentioned above, was just sacked with the club in eighteenth place, the same place Bradford City ended the year they were relegated in 2000. He’s too much of a friend to players and couldn’t get control of the players once he became the full time gaffer. I’d almost best my mortgage he’ll be Jewell’s number two whenever Jewell becomes a manager again. Why Wigan hired him after the poor job he did with Bradford is beyond me.

Martin Jol: Took over Spurs at the end of the 2003-04 season and led the club to it’s most successful period while they were in the Premier League. However never got the club into the Champions League, and after one poor start to the season (that being this one), was given the axe. It was on the cards early on when Juande Ramos was spotted in London early in the season. Having authority undermined led to his downfall.

Stuart Pearce: How he was given the manager’s job at Manchester City I’ll never know. Keegan left him in a place where he could get into Europe, but was unable to. However his negative play never got them above fourteenth in his time as full time manager. The brand of football dull, plus trying to backdoor his way into the England under 21 job didn’t help his cause as he was let go after two full seasons in charge.

Sammy Lee: How Bolton couldn’t see the signs that he wasn’t going to last after the two games of last season is just mind blowing. Started the season so poorly, he was sacked just a little over two months into the season. He’s one of those people who will be a full time number two. Does anyone forget he was number two for the England National Team under Eriksson?

Of the managers in this list, only two have had any success. Why would any owner take a one in four chance that a number two is going to work out? It is too much of a gamble to take and when staying in the Premier League requires stability, unsettling an already unsettled squad is never going to help matters. Even more so when these managers chance from friend to someone they may never respect as the top dog.


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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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