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Football has seen huge changes in the past decade with an ever widening financial divide.

The emergence of true elite European ‘super clubs’ and a huge evolution in fluid and flexible tactics.

The end of the managerial dynastiesBut on the touch line, huge changes are also happening with the role of the manager seen much more as interchangeable and even disposable.

For all the losses on the playing staff of the Premier League clubs with the likes of Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez high tailing it to La Liga, possibly the biggest single loss to the game in England has been the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson ruled domestic matters for twenty years and signalled to clubs the importance of continuity and patience. Despite ten years of frustration, Arsenal fans would broadly look back on the Wenger years with similar fondness. The likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea were mocked for their short-termism, a lack of class even.

What has happened in the midst of all this however is a general restructuring of many clubs with either technical or sporting directors being appointed and/or clubs taking a far greater say in both transfer policy and youth development. Managers are very much the first team coach these days.

This has proven highly effective for many clubs, especially those of a certain level who are used to seeing their managerial talent poached such as Swansea and Southampton. The club employs a defined structure and policy and takes on an identity it is comfortable with. The coaches that are identified by these clubs are required to fit in with the club’s philosophy and should they move on, another is found.

It is of course not bullet proof – as Swansea are finding this season – but it appears preferable to instances where clubs heavily financially back the sole judgment of one man only to replace him and then have another who requires or prefers different players.

The lines however do have to be defined or the results can be mixed such as the experience of Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool where the club seemingly recruited players at odds with the tactics (which admittedly changed several times) that the manager wished to employ. Now that Jurgen Klopp in in the chair, several players again look ill suited to his brand of high energy pressing.

During this past decade, there has also been the small matter of the emergence of Pep Guardiola as the most coveted and respected coach in world football. Guardiola it seems stands for everything that is good in the game and appears skilled at working with the hierarchy in his clubs also. He is the complete package.

That is except that Pep apparently is not ever in it for the long run. Most would have expected him to have stayed at Camp Nou until his services were no longer required – it is after all his club – yet after only four years (of incredible success) Guardiola left the club for a sabbatical.

After two and a half years at Bayern Munchen, Pep has again signalled he will be moving on after the end of his three year contract with England his next destination.

Given the specific way that Guardiola likes his teams to play and the requirement for players to be able to follow his meticulous tactical tweaks, it is probably fair to assume that it takes at least a year for players to adapt to his methods, meaning the team really only has a couple of seasons thereafter to reach its’ full potential under him.

This short-termism from the Catalan has done nothing to quell the clamour for his services even if there is only an expected shelf life of 3-4 years. Whilst clubs still profess to having long term planning, it appears to be far less relevant to the position of manager.

Luis Enrique won the treble with Barca in his first season and has just been voted coach of the year, but even in the Summer there were rumours circulating that the ex-Barca player would be leaving his post and it remains unlikely that he will last anything like five years.

Jose Mourinho has also made a career of short, sharp stays. His managerial methods apparently far better suited to quick-fire success rather than seeing through a project – one of the favourite buzzwords.

Now this is fine if the club structure is firm but in the case of Chelsea, with no stable managerial hand the reality is that the academy players are floundering badly in terms of breaking in to the first team. Even if the Blues’ academy is working as a financial going concern, it has been an unmitigated disaster in terms of grooming players for the first team. It is a similar tale at Manchester City.

Carlo Ancelotti is another hugely sought after coach who has managed many of Europe’s top clubs. The Italian’s skill set however looks to be again, a supreme ability to fit in with the whims of a demanding club hierarchy and to make the best of and to get the best out of the players he is given.

Both Chelsea and Real Madrid probably have cause to regret sacking him yet there is a sense that there is something missing with the Italian other than his supreme ability to ‘not rock the boat’ and keep everyone happy.

One club that looks to have got things right at the moment are Spurs who in Pochettino have found a manager who has given the team a firm identity on the pitch as well as bringing through some excellent young players with Dele Alli the current crown jewel. What Daniel Levy must ensure is that Spurs have the structure in place not to be pushed in to reverse were the Argentine to be poached.

Many see much logic in Arsene Wenger making way for Guardiola but in that instance, whilst their philosophies look aligned and Pep the fresher and more immediately successful coach, it would mean the Gunners dispensing with the idea of identifying a long term replacement for Wenger.

United of course did as much as they could to find what they believed was a like for like replacement for Fergie with David Moyes and have probably subsequently realised that such a person simply did not exist.

Arsenal may take the same line with the departure of Wenger when the time comes. Whilst there will be exceptions, it would appear that the time of the long serving all powerful manager are at least for the time being – gone.

Originally published at oneshotfootball.com

Post written by Steven McBain
for One Shot Football, Blog: One Shot Football, Twitter: @O_S_Football

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