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Why Dowie Success Is Exception To Rule

By: Lawrie McMenemy
Date: 14/07/2004

IAIN Dowie bucked the trend by taking over Crystal Palace when they were in the doldrums and transforming them into a promotion-winning outfit.

Home > Features > 2004 Features > Big Mac On Managers

Figures just given out by the League Managers' Association show that this is the exception rather than the rule.

The LMA point out that clubs who change managers regularly are rarely successful. Several have even had three managers in a season and that hasn't worked either. The survey shows that, more often than not, a change of manager is not the answer to an immediate change in fortune.

During the last football season there were 44 changes in managers and at the end 24 clubs were no better off than when the original manager departed.

In the Premiership for instance, which normally has no change except during the summer period, Peter Reid left Leeds in November when the club were 20th and Eddie Gray at the beginning of May when they were 19th. That's where they stayed and got relegated.

Our own Gordon Strachan left on February 13 when the club were 11th and finished up 12th, while Glenn Hoddle left Spurs in September when they were 18th and they finished up 14th.

The figures prove that while dismissal is part and parcel of being a football manager, what has increased is the insatiable desire for immediate success.

Clubs usually dispense with managers because they are struggling and while sometimes there is an upsurge in fortunes in the short term following a new appointment, historically this is often followed by a levelling off and a downturn in performance.

Looking through the four divisions, eight of the clubs who had managerial changes still got relegated and one of them was Bradford City, who were the subject of a private dinner I was invited to attend in the House of Commons this week.

It was organised by the MP for Bradford Gerry Sutcliffe, who had gathered together a group of businessmen from Bradford along with the business editor of the local newspaper, people who had sponsored the club through thick and thin, officials from the club itself and, ominously, a representative of the administrators.

Gerry asked me to talk about the importance of the football club in the community and I related the times in my career such as Grimsby Town when I took the team down to the fish docks at six in the morning and how I introduced visits by players in Southampton, whether apprentices or internationals, to the many charities in the area.

When I took my first job in Doncaster I was told by a local businessman that when the Rovers did well on a Saturday, productivity was up on a Monday morning.

I also learned that quite regularly when the man went to the football, his wife would go shopping in the town and they would then meet up at a local bar, café or restaurant and so bringing more business into the town.

The visits by the players are to let them know how lucky they are and to show them how hard people have to work to get the money to buy the ticket to watch them play.

The football club was also a cathedral for the non-working classes to attend for two or more hours every other Saturday to forget their woes and release the tensions built up during the rest of the week.

I also said that while Bradford have a football team, their name will be on the football pools coupons and their results will be given out on TV all round the world.

That is how important it is to retain league status and they have until August to obtain a certain amount of money and they also have to overcome the hurdle of getting an agreement to play at Valley Parade.

The club was formed 101 years ago and used to be a rugby club before that. We certainly have good memories of winning there in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 1976, and it would indeed be sad should the club not be there at the beginning of next season.

I suppose we could be talking again in 12 months about how many managers have lost their jobs.

Let's face it, if Ranieri and Houllier were dismissed for finishing second and fourth in the Premiership, what chance has the fella at Bradford got?

Rest assured, though, there will still be a queue of people waiting to take the job on and I can understand that.

I just hope that none of them ring me because I might just be tempted to have another bash!

Lawrie McMenemy

This article is copyright to and reproduced by kind permission of

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