This is THE country for old footballing men…

Date published: Monday 6th November 2017 10:00

As I write, David Moyes is apparently in discussions with West Ham’s hand shandy merchants to replace Slaven Bilic as West Ham United’s new manager. No, this isn’t some sort of Halloween trick or treat, although once Davey makes one of his terrified, wide-eyed looks and starts threatening to slap women, it might seem so. Can anyone imagine a non-British manager with a CV like Moyes’ being given any Premier League job, even for half a season? If he gets the job, he’ll be part of the cabal of top-flight British managers whose sides play awful football.

Let’s look at the dreadful has-beens. David Moyes. Tony Pulis. Mark Hughes. Sam Allardyce. Roy Hodgson. (I would add Alan Pardew if there was half a chance anyone might employ Chunky in the near future, but that seems as likely as anyone employing Alan Curbishley) Two of that five are not in work now, but seem set to be soon enough, at least if some of the English media get their way.

All of these managers can bore for Britain. Their sides usually play a dull, functional game. In a league where some sides play champagne football, this mob specialise in Drybroughs Keg Heavy (one for the teenagers, there).

The recent increase in TV appearances of expert sommelier Sam Allardyce suggests he’s touting for another job. People always end up hating both the football Allardyce teams play and Allardyce himself.

His media mates can go on all they like about how modern he is because he’s got a vibrating plate and has heard of Opta but the fact remains that his sides end up playing eye-bleeding boring football which makes fans feel like the hot breath of mortality is a preferable option. If he takes the Everton job or in fact any other job at all, he’d just be blocking the path of a better, younger, more exciting and progressive manager and as such he’s an especially large albatross around British football’s aching neck.

And speaking of pains in the neck, that brings us to Tony Pulis. He has been a manager for 25 years now (y’know, he’s only 59!), and with his 30% win ratio at WBA is blocking the progress of other managers who could actually organise a team to produce football worth paying to watch. Squatting at the Hawthorns like an incurable haemorrhoid, never quite bad enough to require surgery but a permanent source of agitation and aggravation. The fact is his sides are always really sodding boring and you know this because occasionally, when they play some good football, all Pulis’s supporters jump up and down to shout about it because it is such a contrast to the norm, like striking a match in a universe of darkness.

Then there’s the always scowling, miserable and unhappy Mark Hughes who, when not getting into fights with other managers over shaking or not shaking hands, is doing the football equivalent of bed blocking at Stoke City. He has been a manager for 18 years now and to most fans of the sides he’s been in charge of I bet it feels like even longer. Give someone else a go, Mark. See if they can’t better your 36.7% win ratio. Someone who doesn’t look weary with the game, who doesn’t seem permanently narked and who has got something new to offer. No neutral wants to see Stoke. And for good reason.

And we could say the same thing about Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace. It’s his 23rd appointment in 41 years. Is that not enough now, Roy? He’s won two games in nine. At least if a new manager had the job and did as poorly, they could learn from the failure; Hodgson has already failed so much that he’s nothing left to learn. He’s just another obstacle in the way of those with less experience but better ideas.

And finally there’s the putative WHFC man. Moyes, David. With an 18.6% win ratio at Sunderland across 43 games, even taking into account the unique degree of dysfunction on Wearside, it was a spectacular failure of tenure. There is genuine anger from fans that he is even being considered and we all know why: we’ve seen his sides play. His last three jobs revealed a man incapable of managing a big side and incapable of managing a bad side but more than capable of being unable to handle the pressure. He is a man who had a ‘high tech bunker’ (white board and an iPad).
Yeah, that modern. But sooner or later, someone will give Moyes a job, instead of someone who is any good and he’ll set about taking the bread out of the mouth of someone with less experience but much better skills.

These managerial dumplings lie heavy in the gravy of the guts of the English game and few want to see them managing their club. But have you noticed that as soon as anyone ever suggests that any of the old guard are an obstacle to progress, they get told to “be careful what you wish for”.

Steven Gerrard was spouting this cliche in relation to Pulis, as was Jonny Walters on MOTD Extra. It must rank as one of the most patronising mouth noises any pundit can barf, saying as it does, that you should be happy to indefinitely cough up hard-earned money for appalling entertainment on the basis that the manager will keep you in the league and thus subject you to years more of the same fearful dreck.

Trying to argue that the reason to tolerate awful football is that it will allow you to keep seeing awful football, is a laughable illogical circle of mind-in-neutral garbage that would only be spoken in the strange world of football where ill-thought-out nonsense passes as wisdom every day of the week, just because it is said by someone who was once paid to kick a ball around.

If you want to manage in this country you’ve got to vault yourself over these old British potatoes that constipate the English footballing body in the face of fan fury or indifference. Get them out and don’t let them back in.

John Nicholson

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