Harty on managerial merry-go-rounds

WHO would be a football manager?

Mark McGhee and Sam Allardyce were the most recent victims in the ongoing managerial merry-go-round, but it’s nothing new.

Manchester United famously sacked manager Frank O’Farrell on Christmas Eve in1973, and just to add insult to injury, Old Trafford chairman Louis Edwards, also a master butcher in the city, made his ex-manager return his club turkey.

But has board and fans’ expectation made the plight of the football manager even more precarious?

I would have to say the answer is a firm yes. Since I first watched the Albion there have been 14 managerial sackings. I say sackings, there have on occasions been the old “parting by mutual consent”, but don’t let spin fool you, a sacking can have more than one title.

Times have certainly changed. Pat Saward, my first Albion managerial causualty in November, 1973, who made way for none other than Brian Clough, would have, in the current climate, gone the previous season when the Albion went on a long run of league defeats.

If Gus Poyet lost 4-0 at home in the FA Cup to a non-league team then three days later shipped eight goals at home in the league, would he keep his job? Old Big Head did just that at the Goldstone against Walton and Hersham and Bristol Rovers respectivley.

To my mind, still one of the most ludicrous sackings in the club’s history was 28 years ago this month when Mike Bailey was dismissed because, according to a snap opinion poll carried out by the late great Ron Pavey, the football was boring, and Albion supremo Mike Bailey was worried because the crowds had dropped below 14,000.

Older fans will recall that less than six months before, Bailey had led the club to their highest ever finish in the Football League (What is now the Premiership), 13th, with a brand of football which possibly was not the most exciting, but certainly got results.

Barry Lloyd got the club back to within 90 minutes of a return to the top flight, via a Wembley play-off final in 1991, but was probably lucky to survive a few years earlier when he lost the first eight games of the season.

He eventually did fall on his sword in December, 1993, the first time I heard the words mutual consent in an Albion context.

Since then, a number of managers have gone through the Albion exit door albeit without an option.

Its never nice to see anyone lose their job, whether they’re up to it or not, there have been times when it could have been handled better, times when the then Albion chairman perhaps acted more for his own self-preservation rather than the good of the club.

Aside from my on-air faux pas, for which I was forgiven and re-instated, I would say that my eventual retirement from the phone-in had a lot to do with the Micky Adams situation.

In life, people can say things when it suits them, they can appear to be your friend when the going is good, but when my back was against the wall Micky showed his true colours and backed me without question 100 per cent.

Therefore when the boot was the other foot, I remembered who my real friends were, and that clearly didn’t sit well with the post of devils advocate phone-in host, but if I had my time again I wouldn’t change a thing.

Merry Christmas, everyone. . .