When I was at St. Columb’s College my careers teacher encouraged me, and many others, to consider thinking about becoming a doctor, a lawyer or a journalist. Oh how I wish he had told me to become a football manager instead.
Nothing succeeds quite like failure when it comes to managing football teams.
Football managers lead a charmed existence and whilst some may argue that they are always the first in the firing line I think it’s a small price to pay for what is essentially a job for life.
Take this week for example. Rafa Benitez, who left his job as manager of Liverpool in 2010 by mutual consent and who was subsequently sacked as manager of Italian Serie A side Internazionale six months later, was appointed the new manager of Chelsea.
If Benitez’s new position wasn’t enough to make you think twice before feeling sorry for a football manager then get this. Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was sacked from his position as Chelsea manager in 2008 after only six months in charge, was revealed as the new man in charge of the Brazilian national team.
Scolari left Chelsea and went on to manage a team from Uzbekistan called FC Bunyodkor, whose crest bears a striking resemblance to Barcelona’s, before leaving by mutual consent after he failed to steer the team into the last 16 of the Asian Champions League.
Unemployed and clearly unable to ask his last two employers for a reference, did ‘Big Phil’, as he become known in England, have to visit a Job Centre or buy a copy of his local paper to scour for the latest vacancies? Absolutely not! Because guess what happened next? He got another job managing Brazilian side Palmeiras.
Scolari lasted a little longer with the São Paulo based team; two years in fact. However, after a string of poor results in September, and yes you’ve guessed it, he was sacked again but Scolari only had to wait a matter of weeks before he was offered the chance to manage Brazil.
Scolari is 64 years-old and has had 23 jobs as a football manager - his current job now means that he has managed Brazil twice. It would be completely unfair of me if I didn’t point out that Scolari was once extremely successful in domestic club football in Brazil but that was almost 15 years ago. Despite his many recent failures Scolari, like so many other football managers like him, is almost guaranteed of a job should his current one not work out.
A football manager might be technically unemployed when he has been sacked but his experience does not come anywhere close to what it is like to be truly unemployed. Let’s face it there are very few football managers who when sacked will have to consolidate loans, re-mortgage their house and go into arrears on their credit union loan.
Let’s bring the the discussion closer to home.
Dublin born manager Stephen Kenny left Derry City F.C. for then Scottish Premier League side Dunfermline Athletic in 2006. Kenny, who is unquestionably a very gifted manager, was sacked after a year in charge of ‘the Pars’ and returned to manage Derry City for a second time in December 2007.
No Derry City fan can forget last Christmas for that was the time when Stephen Kenny decided that an offer to manage his hometown club, Shamrock Rovers, was too good to turn down and he walked away from the Brandywell.
Kenny’s reign at Shamrock Rovers was not what many had expected. It wasn’t long until several poor results lost him the support of the fans and in September he was sacked.
Kenny only had to wait two months before his next job opportunity presented itself; he’s the current manager of Dundalk F.C.
Like me, most of the people reading this column, would struggle to find work if they were made redundant, sacked or if they resigned. It’s just the way the economy is at the moment - it’s an employers’ market after all.
But these rules do not apply to the vast majority of football managers. Harry Redknapp, who was sacked as manager of Tottenham Hotspur, was unveiled as new boss of QPR last week; Mick McCarthy, who was sacked by Wolverhampton Wanderers, was recently installed as the new manager of Ipswich Town; even John Barnes went on to manage Jamaica and Tranmere Rovers respectively after he was sacked as manager of Celtic in 2000.
If I am honest, I am jealous of football managers because when it comes to the crunch nothing succeeds quite like failure for them, most of them are guaranteed a job for life and I only wish St. Columb’s College had offered an A-level in football management - oh, how my life might have been very different.