Rodgers the key mover in managerial merry-go-round
The transfer window gossip columns and Sky Sports News ticker have been monopolised by managerial rather than player movement so far this summer. This is pleasing for an English football agent, like myself, working predominantly in the UK market and keen to promote British and Irish managers up the football pyramid.
The past two decades of foreign managers were vital in terms of improving our understanding of modern approaches to coaching, training and nutrition. However, rightly or wrongly, I want managers with a tendency to buy British and do deals involving my clients. In the Premier League alone, Liverpool went for Brendan Rodgers, Aston Villa for Paul Lambert, who in turn was replaced at Norwich by Chris Hughton, while West Brom have appointed Steve Clarke. Will Swansea complete the cycle with Ian Holloway, or go for Brian Laudrup?
John W Henry’s decision to appoint Rodgers [above] was brave and well received. I believe the fans prefer to see a name that they know and have evaluated themselves. The recruitment process that Liverpool executed was more transparent than usual, the public knew the shortlist and who was being asked to an interview. We had Roberto Martinez on private jets to the USA – with Dave Whelan seemingly already spending the compensation – Rodgers turning down the interview before changing his mind, and a number of other managers either ruling themselves out or putting themselves forward. All we needed was Alan Sugar and his aggressive point of a finger to finish it off and give Rodgers the job.
The final twist was Swansea’s last-minute attempt to get more than the £5million compensation that was agreed in Rodgers’ employment contract. One thing for sure is Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins certainly loves to haggle deals. The most intriguing element of the process was Liverpool’s late movement away from the planned baseball general manager model to allow Rodgers, on his insistence, to control transfers.
This was surprising as Henry is such an advocate of the model, and because Rodgers hasn’t handled transfers at any of the clubs he has managed so far. Swansea’s transfers are dealt with by Jenkins, Reading had Nick Hammond as director of football while Rodgers was in the hot-seat, while at Watford John Stephenson performed that role.
I represent some managers and I have also been involved with club chairmen during the recruitment process. Clubs will usually follow one of two methods. The first is the most like what we all experience in the ‘real’ world. When the decision is made to sack the previous manager, or he resigns, someone is given the caretaker duty of naming the team and taking training while the suits convene in the boardroom to start the search for a replacement.
With 24/7 media coverage the news will break and within hours virtually any club will have hundreds of CVs from applicants around the globe. You just have to look at who is out of work and openly looking to get back into the game to see the competition out there. A shortlist is then formed and the top few managers are interviewed with (or sometimes without) permission from their current employers (if they are in work).
Once a decision is made and terms are agreed with the new manager, a compensation deal has to be agreed with the former club – assuming there is a release clause to pay. It is more and more common that we put release clauses into manager contracts. However, if one isn’t in there, it is possible for a club to price their manager out of a move, just as clubs can do with a player. The difference with managers is that they often resign in these circumstances. Lambert was faced with this decision in order to push through his move to Aston Villa after Norwich refused him permission to speak to them.
The alternative recruitment method, which is still probably the most commonly used, is that a replacement manager is already sounded out, or even has agreed terms, while the current manager is still in charge. I have come across this a number of times when calling up a chairman to put forward one of my clients the day after the news breaks of a sacking. Despite it being only hours after the club has got rid of the old manager, it is clear they already have the replacement lined up.
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