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And so, another Premier League club is scrabbling around for a manager, only six months after that same Premier League club was scrabbling around for a manager. At the time of writing the bookies' favourite for the Sunderland job has changed at least twice in a day and a half, with nobody really sure who the new man will be including, it seems, Sunderland.
Of course, the stories dribbling out of the north-east, not just of player unrest but of a manager who was 'systematically destroying' some of his squad (according to The Independent) indicate that Sunderland probably had no alternative but to remove Di Canio before he did much more damage.
However, it does suggest once again that the men who sack football managers frequently only make half a decision. The reason a club dismisses a poorly performing boss is because they think someone else could do a better job, but how do they know this if they have no earthly idea who this 'someone else' could be? Sure, in some situations, like perhaps Sunderland, 'anybody' (or sometimes 'nobody') is better/not worse than the last guy, but in other cases the lack of planning is potentially hugely dangerous.
The classic example of this is Wolves when Mick McCarthy was dismissed. When Steve Morgan and Jez Moxey decided that McCarthy's position was no longer tenable, they were in the bottom three with just 21 points from 25 games. They had just been pounded 5-1 at home by West Brom, and had won only one of their previous 11 games. Therefore, the decision to get rid of McCarthy was not an unreasonable one.
However, there followed an utterly shambolic process of replacing him, at the start of which Moxey stated that job was "not for a novice". Alan Curbishley was interviewed, ruled himself out then was still re-approached a few days later, Brian McDermott was also apparently interviewed before signing a new deal at Reading, before Steve Bruce was offered the job, only for the offer to be withdrawn after apparent opposition from fans. Terry Connor was finally appointed, a move that made absolutely no sense given Connor was a) exactly the managerial novice Moxey said the job wasn't suitable for and b) he had been McCarthy's assistant for the previous four years, meaning he hardly brought fresh and exciting ideas with him.
There was nothing close to a plan, before or after the decision was made to sack McCarthy. With 13 games of 2011/12 remaining, the campaign was still salvageable, but under Connor they gained only four more points (no wins), were relegated with games to spare and of course suffered a second consecutive relegation last season. There was something rotten in that Wolves squad and keeping them in the Premier League that season may only have been a sticking plaster, but by not properly replacing McCarthy they not only failed to cover up the wound, they cut their own legs off with a chainsaw.
When sacking a manager, a club should have a very clear idea of who they want to replace him - they should check if their first choice is available and ideally already have him in place. The latter is often regarded as 'underhand' in football (Pep Guardiola reportedly refused to speak to any club who already had a manager last year, and Bayern got him round the table by telling him Jupp Heynckes was retiring), but it shouldn't be - it's actually the most responsible way to do business.
Manchester City had Roberto Mancini ready to replace Mark Hughes (there were even reports that Mancini was staying at Garry Cook's house), Juande Ramos had been approached before Martin Jol's dismissal was confirmed and Mauricio Pochettino's appointment was announced at the same time Southampton confirmed Nigel Adkins had gone. All of these clubs received criticism, but it was a perfectly sensible way of doing things, even if not all of those appointments worked out. Hurting the feelings of one man who would just as soon ditch them for a better club anyway shouldn't stop that.
Clubs should constantly be aware of what other managers might be available, even if they have no immediate plans to change. Aside from those at the very top, managers will always be tempted by a bigger club, just like players are. And these days a bad run of form can easily make a coach's position shaky. Things can change so quickly that it's sensible to have a plan, even if it only needs to be filed under 'just in case'.
Appointing a manager is, at the best of times, a chaotic business, but clubs can take some of the randomness out of the process with some more careful planning.
Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter
Funny how having a replacement player signed months in advance is perfectly fine but having a replacement manger lined up is underhanded- dools