It's the Standard Verdict - an exclusive weekly look at Colchester United (From Essex County Standard)
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It's the Standard Verdict - an exclusive weekly look at Colchester United
ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD U's REPORTER SIMON SPURGEON DELIVERS HIS THOUGHTS ON Colchester United IN HIS WEEKLY COLUMN: Almost all football fans will tell you that they would make a tremendous manager.
You just have to take a look at one of the plethora of message forums on the internet and fans are on there giving the definitive answer about where their team is going wrong and what needs to be done to solve any problems – simple.
It’s an easy job from the comfort of your armchair and why the men who sit in the real managerial hot seats can’t see how to turn things around when they go wrong is simply unfathomable.
But who would really trade their comfortable armchair for that hot seat?
I certainly wouldn’t.
How can anyone operate with the constant threat of sacking hanging over them like some managers have to when things aren’t going to plan.
We’ve seen some truly ridiculous dismissals of managers so far this season, with Chris Hughton at Newcastle, Sam Allardyce at Blackburn and more recently Phil Parkinson at Charlton springing to mind.
I’ve even seen and heard the ludicrous suggestion this week that John Ward should be dismissed from his post in charge of the U’s and I can’t begin to tell you how bad a move I think that would be.
But it was Roy Keane’s departure from Ipswich that got me thinking about the perilous nature of the job this week.
While I would rarely advocate the removal of a manager, I’m afraid my sympathy was in short supply for Keane and I’ll tell you why.
My only face-to-face confrontation with him came when I covered a pre-season friendly at Portman Road against Colchester United.
There had been speculation about a loan move for Kevin Lisbie back to the U’s after he had fallen out of Keane’s favour and I felt it was only right to ask the question whether there was any basis to the rumours.
I was standing just a foot or so away from the Town manager when I asked if it was true that he may be in line for a return.
Keane fixed me with a stare that seemed to penetrate to the back of my skull and when he asked what my source was, I said it was a topic being discussed among supporters and also in the national press.
He clearly didn’t appreciate my interest as his reaction was one of pure contempt that I would base a question on the back of what fans and the national media were debating, but when I asked him again if there was anything in the speculation he shrugged his shoulders and said no.
Within a week or so, Lisbie was back at the U’s.
I wasn’t a big fan after that encounter, so I haven’t been feeling too sorry for him this week, but I will say that I do regret what his departure represents.
Football management must be a crazy occupation and I have a pet hate for the vogue of short-termism in the game.
Owners and chairmen seem to think the culling of a manager will magically propel them up the league.
It can work – although it pains me to say it, look at Norwich last year – but that approach tends to be the exception rather than the rule, with lasting success only really cemented by a long-term plan of stability and loyalty from owners, managers and players.
Sometimes changes are imposed on you by managers upping sticks at inconvenient times – like Colchester had to endure with the departures of Paul Lambert and Aidy Boothroyd.
But I have little sympathy when clubs create the vacancies themselves.
I heard a statistic given this week that the average tenure of a manager in the Championship is six months and that’s why I have respect for what Robbie Cowling does at Colchester United. Despite being the man who showed Geraint Williams the door in 2008, a string of U’s managers have expressed how supportive Cowling has been to them and that’s so important to building success.
The U’s chairman is an astute businessman and he knows lasting success is built on solid foundations built up over a lengthy period.
The cornerstone of those foundations is the manager and while he has had the rug pulled from under him twice in recent years when managers have been the ones to initiate moves, I salute Cowling for his support of the men in charge.
The last manager given a lengthy spell to build his own team was Phil Parkinson and look at the success that brought.
Ward is still in the early days of building his own team and while he may have had his critics after some below-par performances in recent months change most certainly isn’t the answer.
Cowling appears to know that and thankfully it’s him in charge of the club rather than some of the armchair critics.