It's is one of football's accepted clichés, but Liverpool's form this season makes a mockery of the term 'team in transition'. It's just a weak facade for failure...
Football managers are often lauded for their mind games, man management and tactical planning. Isn't that the least we should expect, given that it's their actual job..?
Oh Andre! I like Andre. He seems interesting and cute and has a slightly gingery beard. If I was gay and if Andre was gay, I'd date a man like Andre. He'd treat you right, be gentle and always smell nice.
However, Andre is a football manager, at least as I write, and when your side gets torn a new one by Liverpool at home, questions are bound to be asked whether you're any good at the job, or at least good enough for this particular club.
I have no doubt that Mr V-B is actually rather good but after Porto he just hasn't quite found the right group of players to respond to his special kind of wisdom. He's like a great guitarist playing in the wrong band; it been like putting Alex Lifeson in One Direction - a complex genius in amongst simpletons.
So it seems more than likely he'll be on his way soon, what with the new Scouse-administered football bumhole and that. You can't get rid of all the players, much easier to jettison the manager and his attractive facial follicles and as much as I like Andre, I won't shed any tears for his departure because feeling sorry for managers is a mugs game.
Much fuss and nonsense is made about managers in modern football, fans leaping too quickly to the defence of their man. Managerial positions are a short-term gig and there is no consistent evidence to prove that having the same manager for years works any better than chopping and changing all the time. David Moyes ten years at Everton achieved less silverware than Steve McClaren five years at the Boro or Roberto Di Matteo's few months at Chelsea.
Fans should always remember that the manager doesn't care as much about the club as you do. He's just an employee, just like a player, only likely to stay around less long. Remember, he's not your dad. Not unless you were Nigel Clough or Darren Ferguson or Alex Bruce, anyway.
Managers are, as the cliché goes, always under pressure, but I think they just have to pretend they are because losing your job in football is not a bad thing. You get all your money and you don't have to work for it. Brilliant. Losing your job and not being able to feed yourself, that's pressure. Not having to sit on a bench in a daft coat being abused by strangers is a blessed relief, surely? We're invited to feel sympathy for them or stroke their egos and tell them how hard done to they have been. That's fine, but Roberto Di Matteo is reportedly still getting £130,000 a week off Chelsea. 130 grand! That is a much, much better situation than actually managing Chelsea and takes absolutely no effort at all. Sympathy? Nah.
The sombre shaking of heads and the usual 'he should have been given more time' nonsense is utterly misplaced. Poor old Steve Clarke eh, sitting at home with a big packet of money for not doing his job. Pray for Clarkey.
I'm sure the Scotsman will be getting the traditional warm words of ex-pro British pundits who always defend a poor suffering Brit ousted too soon from a job by a mental chairman. They neatly forget that the exact same thing was said about Nigel Adkins at Southampton. Skirts were pulled up in horror as the Englishman was dumped in favour of a foreigner observers had not heard of and in Paul Merson's case, can still not pronounce. What madness was this? Turns out Potchettino was a bit good, much better than his predecessor. Atkins didn't need more time, he just needed replacing by someone who was better.
The older pundit who has reinvented the past to suit his own bigotries will tell you that managers 'used to be given more time' but this is a big exaggeration. Chelsea had seven managers in ten years in the 70s and 80s. Some clubs have always had a high turnover and if some didn't it was simply because there was less to lose financially by being a bit rubbish for a couple of seasons, rather than some greater sense of loyalty. And as I say, there's no stats to prove the more years your manager is in place, the more you win, especially if you strip freaky Fergie out of the mix.
You know what you're getting into as a manager. You know from the get go that its a short term job, that you will end up being sacked you also know that for you to get another job someone else will suffer this same fate. The hand-wringing and faux expressions of outrage at rash and impulsive chairmen is all utterly misplaced.
I'd rather a chairman got rid of a manager quickly really. Its simply more fun. If you can have a break from seeing Big Sam talking about West Ham you'd take that wouldn't you? He's going to get sacked sooner or later so why not sooner please? Do you really want to hear Alan Pardew talking about...well, anything? Will you miss Steve Clarke's wit and wisdom which basically amounted to being sat next to a depressed man in a flat roofed, windowless pub in Shettleston.
Football loves to puff itself up as though its big and important and not just a sport. To this end, managers love to talk about implementing a project as though its a five year plan to reform agriculture. They say they need a year or two to shape the team. Time and again, fans fall for this baloney. It's just football, pal and you haven't got any exceptionally original ideas, its pretty much all been done before so just get on with it or get lost. I often even doubt the real value of managers beyond motivation, and sometimes you just know they are begging to be axed. Martin Jol looked almost comatose with disinterest at Fulham. It was like killing an egg bound hen to put it out of its misery.
It's not as if getting sacked even affects their chances of future employment. Clarke will turn up somewhere else, as will Andre Villas-Boas or Martin Jol because no-one takes the sack seriously in football. Everyone knows its a short term gig. So I don't weep if a manager gets sack, not even a gingery sex beard man like Andre. Don't waste your emotion on the man in the coat. If he wanted a safe and secure job he should have gone into the civil service or cut hair for a living.
It might not be fair but football is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.
You can buy Johnny's novels here www.johnnicholsonwriter.com They contain alcohol-fuelled football, sex, violence and women in attractive underwear.