|Wanted: An Inexperienced New Manager|
Written by JollyJourno on Tuesday, 17th Apr 2018 20:49
Usually the top attribute any employer looks for in a new recruit to their organisation is experience. Experience of doing a job at the same level, and a track record of success at that level, should surely be a guarantee of similar outcomes at a similar-sized organisation, right?
In most cases this is true. Experience is a reliable indicator of an individual's competence in a particular role and ability to perform. But can the same be said of football? Does it really matter if a manager has been there and done that? Or can a young, inexperienced coach outfox their experienced peers by being more familiar with the demands of the modern game, more in-tune with the mentality of the modern footballer, and by simply having fresh ideas?
At Ipswich Town our owner Marcus Evans has, at every opportunity he's had since arriving at the club a decade ago, opted to hire a manager with experience of winning promotion to the Premier League.
His three appointments to date have boasted a total of five such promotions between them. Yet, in nine seasons at Portman Road, these same three managers have claimed just one top-six finish for Town in the Championship. Mid-table mediocrity has been the dominant theme under Evans's stewardship.
Now, Evans again finds himself in the market for a new manager. It would be easy to again target a man with a track record of success in the Championship. Among those being linked with the job are Alan Pardew, who guided West Ham to promotion in 2005; Nigel Pearson, who led Leicester City to the big time in 2014; and our own former captain Tony Mowbray, who previously had success with West Bromwich Albion in 2008.
A bolder appointment, however, would be someone with no such track record; someone looking to build a reputation instead of protecting one. Evidence suggests that while an unproven manager is a riskier appointment, the rewards are potentially far greater. If you look at newly-promoted teams in the Premier League over recent seasons, the most successful have tended to be teams that were promoted with young, inexperienced managers.
The best example of this approach is Eddie Howe at Bournemouth, who kept the club in the Premier League in its first season and followed this up with a top-ten finish a year later. Few managers have been able to make such a strong first impression in the top flight.
Then there is Sean Dyche, who was appointed manager of Burnley with just one season's prior experience in the Championship, yet was able to mastermind the club's return to the Premier League. Despite relegation in his first season, the club bounced back a year later and are now knocking on the door of Europe.
Other examples of successful managerial debutantes in the Premier League include Brendan Rogers at Swansea in 2011/12, who finished 11th, and Quique Flores at Watford in 2015/16, who placed 13th. Both clubs are now firmly established in the Premier League. While it remains early days, David Wagner has also impressed with Huddersfield this season.
The managers mentioned above also brought with them a fresh philosophy to their clubs. After years of stagnation, an inexperienced manager with new ideas and a unique approach can have a transformative effect on a football club. They are more likely to try something new, experiment, and blood young players.
More experienced managers, on the other hand, are unlikely to stray from their tried-and-trusted methods, even when these old styles are shown to no longer work. At Ipswich, we know this all too well.
The mood of the fans at Portman Road, after a decade of dull football and unexciting mid-table finishes, is low - perhaps lower than it has ever been in living memory. Hiring yet another manager with Championship promotion pedigree is not on its own enough. We need someone with hunger, energy, spirit, passion and without the baggage of a reputation built at a rival club.
Hiring a young manager with something to prove also follows in the proud traditions of this great club. You don't need me to remind you that we have two former gaffers with statues and stands named in their honour at Portman Road.
When a former Spurs full-back called Alf Ramsey took charge of Ipswich Town for the first time in 1955, his only previous coaching experience had come in Zimbabwe. He had no qualifications or managerial experience. It was a total punt - and the rest is history.
As for Bobby Robson, his only prior managerial experience before Town came at Fulham, whom he had relegated to the Second Division in 1968.
While I am not advocating that we hire a Sunday league coach, or take a gamble without any real rhyme or reason (see: Steven Gerrard), I am arguing that there are likely to be greater rewards for us in the long-term with the appointment of a fresh face. Someone like Danny Cowley, who has done wonders at Lincoln City and knows how to win an FA Cup game. Or someone like Darrell Clarke, who led Bristol Rovers to two straight promotions from the National League to League One.
From a fans' point of view, I don't feel we have much left to lose. Yes, I know relegation is always a risk if a new appointment goes badly wrong. But the attendances have plummeted in recent years regardless of our league status. What we need is some excitement, some passion, some flair. Let's find a manager that can offer the fans a reason to return to Portman Road.
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