WITH more and more money being pumped into football and demand for results ever increasing, it is often the coaches who feel the pressure, with two straight bad results often putting their job under threat. The coaches world over should be envious of Arsene Wenger, who recently celebrated his 20th anniversary as Arsenal manager, but hardly anyone believes his successor will last that longer.
Former England player and manager Stuart Pearce believes a coach should be given a long term to prove his worth.
“We can’t plan things for two years. We can’t do that in football,” Pearce said last Monday at the Soccerex Asian Forum, of which Doha Stadium Plus was a media partner.
“If I was at the (English) FA and had found Gareth (Southgate) the right candidate, then I would’ve given him an ideal contract — four tournaments. You’ve to have a long term. The team needs it. All those things the players learned and did go out of the door when a new manager comes in,” he added.
While the England manager’s job is considered to be a hot seat, the average term of a coach at an English club is just 15 months.
The Gulf countries are even more infamous for their hire-and-fire policy. The UAE’s Mahdi Ali, who came through the ranks, is the longest-serving national coach in the region. Under the Dubai native, the team has showed steady progress, with the third-place finish at the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia being their latest impressive show.
Qatar’s record is not that encouraging as the 2022 World Cup host nation has changed coaches 10 times in as many years.
Citing the success story of Germany coach Joachim Loew, who was an understudy to Jurgen Klinsmann before getting elevated, Pearce said there should be a succession plan for coaches in all countries.
“Every country should’ve a succession plan in place. It’s common sense. Look at Germany. They had a bad 2006 campaign. But Loew, who worked under the senior manager, was ready to take over. That’s what the corporate world is doing. But I’m afraid, we (England) stumble from two-year cycle to two-year cycle under new managers,” said the 54-year-old, who played more than 400 games for Nottingham Forest.
Pearce also said young players of a country had to play and win together if they wanted to achieve success at the senior level.
“If you’ve noticed, England worked this summer with a squad of 23 players. Of that, the only player who had won anything at the age-group level was Ross Barkley (the European Under-17 Championship). You’ve to compare that with what the Germans and Spaniards have achieved. If an English player makes it to the first team of a Premier League club, then it gives him a better chance of playing for the national team.
“I think we were overhyped before every tournament. Probably the rest of the world is wondering because England have done well in the qualifiers. But we haven’t won anything of late at the age-group level. Unless we start unlocking that puzzle, it’s going to be difficult. The easy solution is to make your youngsters play and win something together before they step on to the senior level. They’ll by then know what tournament experience is all about,” said Pearce.
The former defender, who hailed Barcelona for their La Masia academy, opined youngsters who are fast-tracked should be in the playing XI and not on the bench. Citing Marcus Rashford’s lack of opportunity with senior England team as an example, Pearce said, “There’re too many young players who’re upgraded, but who eventually don’t play. It’s very important that we rightly manage their career pathways. After being upgraded, some players suffer a dip in form and land in international no-man’s land,” said Pearce.