In terms of competition, is there any greater caveat in world sport than: be weary of the team with the sacked coach. The enigma of teams who have struggled, to the extent their manager has been sacked, being able to overcome adversity and the form guide for a resounding victory on the weekend is endemic in sport and truly puzzling.
Surely sporting professionals, realising their beleaguered manager’s job is in danger, are capable of effecting a change in fortunes before divine owners issue the last rights? After all it doesn’t take a clairvoyant to realise the card of death will be played unless results are turned around.
Obviously every organisation’s situation is unique and someone has to run last in the league but the fact that teams are so often able to instantaneously turn things around, proving that latent potential indeed exists, must be a source of frustration for all concerned and a lesson in human nature.
Look at the LA Lakers, who started the season 1 and 5, after losing 8 pre-season games in succession. A sacked coach and suddenly they were able to win four of their next five without a head coach even being courtside.
The Parramatta Eels, who were diabolical in the NRL last year, were somehow able to conjure a win against eventual premiers, Melbourne Strom, a couple of days after relieving coach Stephen Kearney of his duties.
And where does one begin with Chelsea FC? Last season after struggling in all competitions, they sacked manager André Villas Boas and somehow managed to be crowned Champions of Europe. Yet Mr Di Matteo now finds himself unemployed and able to join the Chelsea manager sack race that adds another runner every year.
The obvious reason to explain such a phenomenon is that players simply don’t want to perform for their manager and poor performances become habitual. However, once these same players are forced to audition for a new manager, whether they have been named or not, this somehow triggers a desire to do exactly what they’ve been paid for all along. This seems quite a juvenile concept and smacks of self-interest but unfortunately while the Bob Dylan line about the times is enduring, managers’ jobs are not.
Of course the band masters are hardly the ones losing out here. Once managers have been given their marching orders, this usually precipitates them being paid out the rest of their contract, which can be a lucrative bit of business. Then of course the game of managerial musical chairs begins whereby they will find themselves parachuted into a new Club when the music stops on a fellow adversary. It’s kind of like the Greek mythology figure Hydra- you chop off one head when it’s looking the other way and another one merely grows back in its place.
Being a betting man (which I am), I had more than a pretty penny on an out of form Chelsea being able to account for the EPL title holders, Man City on the weekend. Roberto Mancini himself had said “When a team changes their manager, the game after for the opponents is very difficult”. I also thought QPR would give a sterner account of themselves against Man. United.
Unfortunately these predictions didn’t eventuate, but surely both sides will revive their season’s fortunes in the coming weeks under new leadership. You wouldn’t need to be drunk to make such a bold prediction as when you toss the boss that’s just what happens.