04 November 2015

An interim allen key

An interesting comment in the otherwise negligible post-defeat blatherings by Karel Fraeye last night.
He said: “We know at this moment there is a lot of difference in the fitness of the players and we try to manage that. But everybody knows we cannot do that in one or two weeks. “I don’t know [why that is}. That’s the stats we have. It’s up to us as a staff and management to get the players as fit as possible. [emphasis added]
The stats we have maybe shines a light into what's wrong with Duchatelet's approach. Selection based on data analysis. We've heard about his network of scouts, and imagined them gathered in a secret cavern in the Ardennes lit only by the glow of hundreds of monitors showing videos and spreadsheets. Suddenly one of them spots something: Regardez ce type-la! Quelles données qu'il a! He picks up the big red phone. A few weeks later a stocky midfielder arrives by Eurostar and the blameless Tracey Leaburn drives him to a hotel in Bexleyheath.

Analyse the data; the stats tell you all you need to know. Football as algebra, or as an Ikea self-assembly wardrobe. The manager is just the chap who wields the allen key.

No, it's worse than that. The manager (or head coach, or interim mastermind or whatever) is the allen key, cheap and easily replaceable. If you lose one, or throw it away in anger because it can't build a fitted kitchen out of the parts for a medium billy bookcase, you've probably got another one lying around in your toolbox. An allen key doesn't need experience or skill. Have you got a hexagonal 6mm head? Job's yours.

Probably the last two Charlton managers were simply not very good at their job. As I've said before, it's hard to tell. But with both we saw the same pattern: good early results followed by a decline as other teams completely sussed out and negated the team's tactics and the manager could neither offer a plan B nor motivate the team into outperforming itself. That's what good managers do. That's why they cost more than an allen key.

(PS for Chris Powell: in the extremely unlikely event that you're offered the job, for the sake of your sanity, DON'T TAKE IT. Same goes for Eva Carneiro, by the way.)

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