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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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Dalty added 21:29 - Apr 17
Good article, agree with all of it other than the suggestion of Cowley as manager. Think after many people's main gripe with Big Mick was the style of football, appointing another manager with a similar style would not buy them much goodwill with those same fans. Anyone from Cook, Hurst, Adams, Clarke and Jones would be my choice.

Edmundo added 21:48 - Apr 17
God article, though I think Mogga would be a good bet not for experience but because he knows the culture our Club used to have. He's a last link to the good times, not just on the pitch but off it too. Having said that a new broom in the shape of Hurst, Clarke or Jones would be most welcome.

Edmundo added 21:49 - Apr 17
*Good not God!

chrishants added 07:59 - Apr 18
I agree we need a manager from a lower division who has the desire to succeed. The man who rebuilt Town after the Milburn debacle, Bill Mcgarry comes to mind

PortmanTerrorist added 09:37 - Apr 18
As i have commented a few times recently, it is not the hope that kills you, at ITFC it is the lack of hope that is killing the Club. An owner lacking ambition allied to a a protectionist manager also lacking so ,much ambition that he never asked for funds, even when we were in the top 2 and starting to feel the bite of injuries a few seasons back, is enough to alienate the best supporters.

We need our Club back. Would rather see an ITFC academy coach given the job than a "name" connected with another Club, or another protectionist manager.

This Blog makes a great and historical point that these appointments have not served OUR Club well at all. Maybe it is something about ITFC but we do indeed need some fresh and ambitious ideas. Let's bring back the hope.....happy to live with the consequences as at least we could say we trued !

Slambo added 18:23 - Apr 18
Agree with this word for word! I would also question this received wisdom that an experienced manager is a safe option: Keane and Jewell nearly took us down and McCarthy took us to our lowest league position in 2 generations..!

KiwiBlue2 added 04:57 - Apr 19
Very good blog and your points were well made. Of the options, I am leaning towards Mogga given his connection to the club but would be happy with Cook or a successful up and comer who is noted for his teams playing good football.
I view Evans as being essentially conservative but as you have pointed out Sir Alf and Sir Bobby were calculated risks .... time for Evans to push the boat out a bit.....

naa added 11:30 - Apr 19
chrishants: surely McGarry is past it by now isn't he?

Boom boom!

naa added 11:56 - Apr 19
To be fair, Keane wasn't an experienced manager. The problem with him was his gigantic ego. But he did what Evans wanted, which was to raise the profile of his brand, via the club. We didn't need to be successful for this to be the case. Which is just as well then!

The fact that he set the club back by 10 years, possibly more, was collateral damage for Evans. Much worse for those of us who care about it.


warktheline added 17:36 - Apr 23
The Cowley's tick the boxes! Know lower leagues and players and could ultilise this especially with limited funds! They would bring a winning mentality and having followed their careers, vigour and energy wouldn't be in short supply! The brothers a extremely diligent and hardworking. They deserve their chance at a higher level. If we don't pluck them now another club surely will! 'Hoof ball' tag is unfair and has been spread by 'jealous' football 'purists', usually found lingering around lowly league positions!!!
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