Date: 10th October 2012 at 4:27pm
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This week we look at how long managers/owners should be given to make their impact on a club

After the Pozzo takeover this summer and the number of subsequent changes along with other high profile ‘projects` as Liverpool and Blackburn coming under scrutiny, we felt this week would be appropriate to broach the topic of new ownership and management at clubs and how long in the modern game they should be given before being deemed a success or a failure. And in what circumstances could or should a change be made earlier than planned.

It is fair to say Watford are one of the clubs currently undertaking a new project after the summer takeover of the Pozzo family. A number of loan signings from fellow Pozzo-owned clubs Granada and Udinese has seen the playing staff dramatically change and grow over the last few months despite a successful last campaign which saw the club attain their best Championship finish for four seasons.

The question as ever with these new projects is how long should Zola be given to get it right and how long should the fans give the Pozzo`s before judging their regime? Using Watford as the example of these new style projects will of course evoke emotions from fellow supporters but we are talking here about the general point of football projects and how long they should be given to work.

We all saw the shambles that occurred at Chelsea last season as they embarked on a new project with a young manager. Of course, he tried to change too much too soon which caused him some major problems. Whilst on the surface it may have seemed very harsh and a bit strange to sack AVB as early as March just seven months into his reign, the irony is, who can argue their decision was a bad one considering they ended up doing the double and the fact Di Matteo has overseen a very good start to this campaign which sees them top by four points after seven games.

On the flip side of the Chelsea example is the example set by Manchester City. After appointing Roberto Mancini in December 2009, City embarked on a new project with the Italian manager. Rather than expect instant success they decided to build their club up slowly trying to make improvements each year. In his first campaign they lost out on fourth spot to Tottenham. In his second season they made the Champions League and won the clubs first trophy for 50 years. In his third year they reached the height of English Club Football by winning the Premier League. Clearly, whatever you think about the money being thrown about there, this is a club with football people involved who saw a project through over a period of time rather than want instant success.

As well all know, Graham Taylor has often publicly stated that three years in the minimum a manager should be given before you can truly say ‘his` team is either going to do well or it isn`t. My opinion is that time frame is a little dated. Taylor is from an era of football where things happened much more slowly and money was often is short supply. My view is that 18 months is a good period for deciding if a manager or a new project is likely to work or needs changing.

With the introduction of the transfer windows twice a season clubs have a much higher turnover of players than they used to. It is not unusual for a club to bring anywhere between three and six players each window. Therefore after 18 months, or three transfer windows, a manager will have had the opportunity to bring in virtually a whole new eleven players give or take, and that is the time for ‘his` team to produce the goods.

Obviously each club has their different circumstances. Given the financial situation at Portsmouth nobody is expecting Michael Appleton to have that team in a better position at the end of this season than when he took over last November.

But in my opinion, the general point remains, 18 months is the maximum a manager should be allowed excuses before it is time to deliver. If you were chairman/owner, how would you play it?

Let us know by commenting below! How long is long enough? What is the acceptable level of progress?


One Reply to “Talking Point: How Long Should A Plan Take To Work”

  • I think thats a good article and a fair shout of 18 months these days. We would want to see substantial progress being made in that period of time. This season, we are already seeing some excellent football, which bodes well, even if the results are not quite there yet.
    But despite a couple of home defeats recently (Brighton & M’bro) they haven’t felt like defeats given the football played. Its unfortunate also that a referee’s wrong decision simply compounded the situation.
    But so far, I think GZ is doing okay 7/10 for me.

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