How to change your manager

Posted by Mark Payne

AP PhotoSir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes - smooth transition

The domestic season has been nearly wrapped up. All of the major European leagues have settled their championships ahead of schedule, and club directors need something else to occupy their interest. Attention now turns to the inevitable managerial merry-go-round that awaits this summer.

Chairmen across the continent are ready to pull the rug from under their managers in the hope of employing somebody similar who might do a slightly better job. It promises to be entertaining and bloodthirsty viewing.

- Uncertainty over United coaches

Roberto Mancini has had a tough couple of days. If finding out via rumours in the media that he was going to be sacked on the morning of the FA Cup final wasn't enough, his side went on to lose the game -- in abject fashion, too. On Monday, Manchester City finally fired him in what must count as one of the more horribly executed dismissals of recent times. To add insult to injury, City's former kit man has taken to Twitter to accuse Mancini of vanity and arrogance. Way to kick a man when he's down.

Real Madrid are no strangers to personnel turnover. The club are currently trying to split with Jose Mourinho in a fashion that makes Paul McCartney's divorce seem mature and level-headed. In contrast, United had a new man installed within 24 hours of Sir Alex Ferguson announcing his retirement, with a minimum of fuss.

Of course, no article on the subject of managerial backstabbing would be complete without a mention of Chelsea. Mourinho was strongly rumoured to have been double-crossed by John Terry when he was drop-kicked out of Stamford Bridge in 2007. Perhaps he will get to extinguish Terry's club career with cold-blooded ruthlessness in an act of gleeful revenge this summer.

It is interesting that Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid are all poised to change managers. Each of those clubs has jaw-dropping statistics when it comes to the hot seat. This week, Mancini became the 18th man to leave City's managerial post in the 26.5 years Sir Alex has been at Manchester United. That's a new manager every one year and five months.

Since Vicente del Bosque left Real Madrid in June 2003, the Spanish giants have employed the services of 10 men to dish out the halftime team talks. An average of one manager per year. Mourinho is by far the longest-serving of that group, and he is being chased out of town as he completes his third season. In that period, Barcelona have largely dominated La Liga, and Madrid have gotten nowhere in the European Cup.

Chelsea's record is arguably even worse than Madrid's. They have chewed their way through 10 coaches since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and again, Mourinho is the longest-serving with three years. In fact, since Mourinho left in 2007, the average managerial reign at Stamford Bridge is just 300 days.

Football is a game of tight margins. Famously, Sir Alex was a Mark Robbins goal away from the sack in 1989. In a similar fashion, Avram Grant was one scuffed penalty away from being a Champions League winner in 2008. The difference is that Fergie was kept on to continue with the job he started. He would not have been able to win any trophies for Manchester United had he not been there.

"Your job now is to stand by our new manager," Sir Alex said during his emotional farewell to Old Trafford on Sunday. The statistics back this up as a sensible course of action. It is the fervent hope of more seasoned fans that the United board have the patience and strength to stick with their convictions. The decision to hire David Moyes was reached "unanimously" on Wednesday. Elsewhere in Europe's big clubs, the game has just begun.

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