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Why Phil and Tony Had To Go
Two big name managers have just been given the chop but in truth neither the sacking of Tony Adams from Portsmouth or Phil Scolari from Chelsea was a surprise. Now, of course, the question is: who will replace them long term?
Tony Cascarino, 25 Feb 2009
Gareth Southgate’s position at Middlesbrough is being questioned, but I’d say he’s still one of the safest managers in football, purely because he has the most patient chairman in England. Steve Gibson has never actually sacked a manager. He stood down Bryan Robson gently a few years ago, and brought in Venables, but it wasn’t a sacking. Normally when chairmen see relegation staring them in the face, they tend to press the panic button, but Gibson’s never done that. I think even if they went down, he wouldn’t fire Southgate, he would give him a chance to come back up. They’re just about the only club that still operate that way. The finances in football nowadays make it very hard for chairmen to be patient, because the financial losses are so huge if you lose your top-flight status.
As regards Shay Given’s transfer from Newcastle to Man City, it’s clearly a good move for him. He’s left a club that’s totally unambitious, and moved to one that’s extremely ambitious. Man City are obviously going to grow, keep spending their millions and getting in better players, and it’ll give Shay a spring in his step. He obviously wants to win trophies, which is understandable after 12 years of winning nothing. It became quite clear that none of the Big Four were going to come in for him, and I suppose the obvious next best option after the Big Four is Man City, with all the money that’s there. He had a great debut, and the fans have taken to him already. Shay’s fairly young for a goalkeeper; some of them keep improving until they’re 40. He makes very few mistakes, and there’s been days with Newcastle and Ireland when he’s kept his team in the match single-handedly. I think he can go on to reach the levels of Seaman, Schmeichel, Van der Sar and the like, and I’ve no doubt he’ll be worth a lot of points to City over the next few years.
I’ve noticed the Aston Villa fans are starting to sing about winning the League. They’re probably a bit too far behind Man U to do that, but they seem to be set for the Champions League. Martin O’Neill never ceases to amaze me with what he’s capable of, and I think he’ll hang in there and see if he can build a title-winning side. He has a good chairman, and a very spirited group of players who are clearly responding to his methods. They kill teams on the counter-atack, using the pace of Young and Agbonlahor on the wings, the way Chelsea were doing a few years ago with Robben, Duff and Wright-Phillips. If you’ve got that kind of pace, you have to use it, and Martin’s always been very adept at playing to his strengths.