In this episode of Barndoors and Banjos, James and James discuss the manager merry-go-round and why it is certain managers keep getting jobs despite terrible records.

It’s two completely unqualified football fanatics talking nonsense.


James E: Okay, welcome to Barndoors & Banjos. That’s easy for me to say.

James T: Good start.

James E: And it’s a new football podcast. Seamless, wasn’t it? Very slick. A new football podcast that promises, it says here, James, not to focus on results or league tables, just two chaps talking football nonsense, which sounds rather jolly.

So I guess, I suppose, as a start, we had better introduce James Squared, which me, James 1, and you.

James T: I guess James 2.

James E: Brilliantly done. Brilliantly done. As if we’d rehearsed that. That was good. You might wonder, the only reason, obviously, we are friends and talk about football is because we both have the same surname and we worked out—

James T: Surname?

James E: First name. First name.

James T: Surname would be a bit more interesting.

James E: Yeah, that would be weird, wouldn’t it?

James T: It would be extremely random.

James E: Or if we’re both called James James. If our second name was James as well.

James T: Yeah.

James E: We’ve already gone… this is literally turning into a ramble already.

James T: It is, yeah.

James E: And astonishingly, we’ve not anything to drink. Anyway, so each month we’ll have a topic, James. Is that right? We’re going to have a topic to talk about, aren’t we? We’re going to focus on some of the nonsense and miscellany of football. Would that be fair to say?

James T: Yes. As you said before, try and avoid the weekends results.

James E: Absolutely.

James T: Try and avoid where teams are in the leagues or Champions League.

James E: Especially if you’re a Southampton fan.

James T: Especially, yeah. Not so good. Although better than the last two previous years, I guess.

James E: No, absolutely. Every cloud and all that. And I guess the other thing I was going to say was the other thing we have in common is that we are based in Newcastle, in the northeast of England, but actually we both support southern football teams.

James T: Mm-hm.

James E: You obviously are resplendent there, James, in your Southampton top from, is it circa 2000 and…?

James T: 15… no, 16.

James E: 16.

James T: The first season after Puel.

James E: Oh, right. So is that like BC/AD, After Puel? Is that like a new beginning, a new era?

James T: Yeah, because that was the start of the huge drop off the cliff. Puel was the beginning of it, with the boring football.

James E: And then from there, just remind us who you picked after Puel?

James T: The extremely well-known, talented, and world-class manager, Mauricio Pellegrino, who I’m assuming they only hired because he sounded a little bit like Mauricio Pochettino. It was under him where it all went wrong. But this was the top from that season, and it was a snazzy, snazzy shirt.

James E: It certainly hugs the figure, I think it’s safe to say.

James T: It does, yeah.

James E: It definitely shows off your guns, which is very exciting for me, I must say. Obviously James is a Southampton fan, I’m a Fulham fan, based on my upbringing in Southwest London. So we’ve all got [a cross to bear? inaudible 00:03:04], it’d be fair to say, wouldn’t it? And as I suppose most football fans will know, it’s the hope that kills you. It’s those small moments of joy interspersed with 35 years of misery that keeps most football fans going, I suppose, doesn’t it?

James T: Yeah.

James E: And so episode one, here we are, and welcome podsphere to our first episode, which has a working title of Manage a P***-Up in a Brewery, so talking of managers… you see, there was a seamless link there, wasn’t there?

James T: There was, yeah.

James E: So we’re going to focus today a little bit on some of the crazy daft sides of management that we, as humble football supporters who don’t understand a thing about football, find perplexing, and maybe some of those things our listenership of eight will find perplexing, too, maybe.

James T: Mm-hm, I would say. And looking as well at the manager merry-go-round, aren’t we?

James E: Ooh, yes. 

James T: Why it is…

James E: [inaudible 00:04:05].

James T: …that a certain crop of managers seem to get jobs no matter how poorly they perform.

James E: That’s right and, as you could very well testify to, you’ve had a few of those. Maybe making a quick stop on that merry-go-round just to get off at maybe six months or so, collect in a few million quid, and then go off to their next unsuspecting punter at somewhere like, I don’t know, West Brom. West Brom were quite good at that as well. 

So that’s what we’re going to talk about, I think, today. I guess, although we don’t like to be topical in any shape, way, or form, is there anything that’s caught your eye over the last few weeks in football, James?

James T: There has, yeah. Alongside supporting Southampton, I’m also a very big AS Roma fan. I have been since the early and mid-90s with Football Italia being on the TV. That was my introduction to football and still is, to this day, the best football show that’s ever been on TV.

James E: In your opinion, obviously.

James T: In everyone’s opinion. It’s a fact, James, unfortunately.

James E: Okay, no problem.

James T: And they did something, apart from the fact they have the greatest football Twitter account going, it’s hilarious, the English AS Roma Twitter account, it’s definitely worth following, they did something quite interesting this year when they were announcing their signings. They posted pictures of missing people, I don’t know if it was missing children or missing people within Rome…

James E: Yes, I did see that.

James T: …alongside each of their signings to get a bit of awareness going about these people, and apparently that’s been quite successful, and the number of people have actually been found due to that, due to the raised awareness. I thought that was a particularly interesting way to do something good alongside mentioning to the world that you’ve just spent tens of millions of pounds on human beings to kick a ball around a pitch. So I thought they did quite a good job.

James E: Yeah, I mean, there’s not really anywhere I can go on that, certainly from a comedic point of view, because it’s not comedic, and I must admit, I’m looking forward to channelling some really deep issue jokes like that. You’ve caught me a little bit off-guard with your heavy-duty moral play early doors.

James T: I just thought that was a nice thing to read about in football.

James E: It was a nice thing to do and obviously good has come out of it, so let’s not be cynical. Let’s not be cynical about that because that would be easy in the modern world to do that, wouldn’t it?

James T: I think they could’ve easily not done it and you don’t know how long it would’ve taken anyone to be found, but I think the fact that they did do it and people were found, I think that’s quite a good thing to talk about. 

When we’re talking about football and it’s mostly a lot of very well-paid people playing a game, and as you said we’re probably going to be joking around quite a bit, it’s quite nice to see something good come out of it occasionally. Something that’s actually made a bit of a difference.

James E: Well, there we go, and great words, James. I feel like I was about to turn into Dave Smash there, from Smashie and Nicey. Well, I’ve looked at what’s caught my eye this week, and I’ve got to say it’s unfeasibly trivial in comparison and genuinely not noteworthy in any shape, way, or fashion. So I’m deleted that I’ve been so vacuous and two-dimensional.

James T: Maybe you should’ve gone first.

James E: No, no, that would’ve been wrong because I think it was best that we did the serious stuff first.

James T: Oh, okay. This is not a precedent that I’m setting, that every single week there’s going to be something profound.

James E: That you’re going to be serious. And I think, if we were to do that, what we need is Simon Bates’s music from that thing he used to do on Radio One where he had that really slow music and it would be about Mavis who, unfortunately, loves much of her family and a recent pram accident, and then a nice gentleman took pity on her and they ended up happily married and stuff like that. She may have never been called Mavis, but who knows.

Anyway, you won’t notice this because obviously Fulham are now plying their wears in the Championship.

James T: Where’s that again?

James E: Well, it’s one below you.

James T: Oh, right, okay.

James E: It’s one below you. But it’s the one where you win some football matches.

James T: Oh, right. I remember what that was like.

James E: Well, you’ve got a good memory. But anyway, I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet, but every midweek game on the EFL, on-brand there, is now available on the red button if you’re a Sky subscriber, which is good. Don’t get me wrong, because obviously for an exiled Fulham fan, you can’t get to as many games as you’d like, so brilliant. 

However, there is a drawback, and this is football snobbery at its finest. So basically you go on the red button, you pick your game. Everything so far, so good. But the only thing is, it’s shot in kind of 1980s camera quality. It’s not that bad but it’s not UHD, 4HD, or whatever we’re all used to now. And also, there’s no replays or anything like that. So you go off to make a cup of tea, go off to get a beer, or, you know, any other personal ablutions that you might need during the middle of a match, you come back, your teams 1-0 down, 2-1 up, you haven’t seen the goal, can you rewind it? Can you buggery. 

James T: Is that them trying to maybe replicate the experience of being at the ground? You know, if you go for a piss in the middle of a football game, you’re going to miss it, aren’t you?

James E: Well, you are, and I wouldn’t traditionally go. I would obviously just hold that in until the time of half. 

James T: Why is it the B-camera quality is not so good?

James E: I don’t know. Because there’s probably not as many of them, I guess. Yeah, there’s one camera just in the middle. And the other thing is, what you do realise, even when you’re at a game, is how long the celebrations go on for nowadays. Because obviously when they’re celebrating now, you have 58 replays from different angles and people talking about it. You’re kind of there going, are they going to kick-off?

And the other night, I’ll have to put this in, obviously Fulham destroyed Reading at the Madejski 4-0, but it was fascinating how Reading seemed to be standing around for about ten minutes, all in position, ready to kick-off, waiting for usually Mitrovic to drag is weary, or apparently weary, body back to the centre circle.

But let’s get back to talking about, no, I was going to say your replica shirt. But what we were going to talk about is managing a p***-up in a brewery.

James T: I’m going to wear a different one every episode as well.

James E: Right, okay. And fingers crossed, by the time we get to episode six, you’ll have found one that fits.

James T: It doesn’t pull quite as much. It’s the sponsor in the middle that just keeps dragging up.

James E: Is it? Virgin. Virgin Media. Sorry, I wasn’t just shouting that at James in an accusatory type of way. So we talked earlier. Managers and manager merry-go-round, I think, as we lapsed wholly substantially into cliché. Why do some managers keep getting the same jobs?

Now you mentioned, I think, Mark Hughes would probably be one and who’s managed both of our teams in his managerial merry-go-round.

James T: Well, I’ve got five here that I can think of.

James E: Five? Fire away.

James T: That was off the top of my head.

James E: Fire away with your fab five, James.

James T: Hughes, Pulis, Bruce, McCarthy, although McCarthy’s out of it now, really.

James E: McCarthy?

James T: He was for a time. He got jobs everywhere.

James E: McCarthy? What, Millwall and Ireland?

James T: And Sunderland and Ipswich.

James E: Oh, and Wolves.

James T: Yeah. He was around. He bounced around. He did his six months at every club.

James E: But he was Championship though, wasn’t he, really?

James T: They’re all Championship. That’s why they can’t hack it in the Premier League. And Allardyce as well. 

James E: Ooh. Allardyce?

James T: Allardyce? I would say so. Allardyce has managed about every club in the league.

James E: But he’s kind of brought in for a purpose though, usually, now, isn’t he? He’s like the [red adair? inaudible 00:11:58] of football disaster, do you not think, in the Premier League? Every time a team looks like they’ve got one point from six games.

James T: Would you want that reputation as a manager? Would you want the reputation of, it’s all gone a bit crap, we might get relegated, let’s get in the guy who can…?

James E: Oh, I think even he accepts that now, doesn’t he? 

James T: Does he? I remember at one point he was saying that if he had the… am I right in this? If he had the same resources as Arsene Wenger, Bolton would be better than Arsenal at the time, when he was the Bolton manager?

James E: I can’t verify the quote, James. 

James T: I’m pretty sure he had a very, very high opinion of himself as a… I don’t know what the right word is.

James E: Manager?

James T: Not quite what I was going for.

James E: Okay. But have you missed out Pardew?

James T: Oh, I’ve missed a few of them.

James E: You’ve missed out Pardew.

James T: These were the five that, when I was on the way here—

James E: Pulis?

James T: Pulis? Yeah.

James E: Did you have Pulis, did you?

James T: Pulis was number two. Steve Bruce. I even went further, and I went and actually checked, in terms of Premier League because I couldn’t be bothered to do the research for all of it, in terms of Premier League, I went and found the manager’s win percentages. Let’s play a little game here, James.

James E: Oh, I love a quiz.

James T: Hughes, Pulis, Bruce, McCarthy, and Allardyce.

James E: Ahh.

James T: Who’s got the worst win percentage of those five managers? And it’s by some distance, even though none of them are, let’s say, showered in glory.

James E: Give me the names again. Give me the names again. Hughes…

James T: Hughes, Pulis, Bruce, McCarthy, Allardyce.

James E: I’m going to go McCarthy on the basis that, when he was manager of Sunderland, they didn’t win for about a year. Is it right or not?

James T: Yeah.

James E: Get in. Five points. What do I get for that? Do I get to pick the next round?

James T: Five points for the guessing it right, and you can have another 20 points, not that these points really mean anything…

James E: What are they going to lead to?

James T: …if you guess what the ballpark figure of what the percentage might be.

James E: For his win ratio in the Premier League?

James T: Win percentage of games in the Premier League.

James E: 11%?

James T: Michael McCarth… oh, nope. You’ve done him a disservice there.

James E: Have I? What is it?

James T: 19.

James E: 19. So for every ten games he plays, he wins…

James T: Two? Just about.

James E: 1.9, obviously. Yes. Well done. Just thought I would check your maths. But I suppose we could all name the managers and, to be fair, if I was to offer you a couple of million quid every couple of years to basically fail, I’m pretty sure that you would [inaudible 00:14:23]?

James T: I’m not sure if fail… is that too harsh of a word? Or is it just to accept mediocrity?

James E: Well, if I look at that list that you’ve got there.

James T: Yeah, but think about it, I wrote these down and I was having a bit of a go on the bus.

James E: At the driver?

James T: To anyone that would listen.

James E: Right, okay. Doris. Was it Doris again?

James T: It wasn’t Doris. She wasn’t on it today.

James E: Oh.

James T: And I was thinking, Allardyce 34%, Hughes 33%, although that’s probably been massively boosted by his time at Man City when he was probably winning games just because he had a bit of a fancier squad then. 34% for a mid-table team win is probably not that bad, really.

James E: I suppose [inaudible 00:15:08] to win more than that [inaudible 00:15:09].

James T: [Inaudible 00:15:09].

James E: 34% is…? Times what? Is it 38 games? Is it 38 games you play in Premier League?

James T: It is, yeah.

James E: Well, let’s have a look. Let’s just do it.

James T: It’s just over a third, isn’t it? You don’t have to… just work it out.

James E: Let’s just lose the rest of… No, I want to do that. I want to do it ‘cause I want to lose the remaining list that we’ve got.

James T: It’s about 13 games, isn’t it? It’s just under 13. It’s about 13 games.

James E: Yeah? Would that be enough? Times three, 38 points. You stay up, didn’t you, with that?

James T: Throw a few draws onto that, and you’re probably sitting at 40 odd points. You’d probably survive.

James E: And if you’re in Newcastle, you’re the messiah of your Rafa Benitez with that, aren’t you?

James T: You’re begging for a 33-win percentage at Newcastle. You’re begging for it.

James E: I think, out of all of those, they’ve all had, I would say, Allardyce has been worth loads of money to loads of clubs by keeping him in the Premier League. It has to be said, now you won’t like this, but I thought the job he did at Bolton was brilliant.

James T: Yeah.

James E: Come on. He took them through the Championship to qualifying for Europe.

James T: I just agreed with you.

James E: McCarthy, I suppose, did all right at Ireland, didn’t he? Did okay.

James T: Is he still there?

James E: No, he’s gone back. Went back, didn’t he? To Ireland.

James T: I was just saying, is he still the Ireland manager?

James E: Oh, I believe so, unless it’s changed in the last ten minutes, yeah. Bruce, obviously just… yeah.

James T: Shockingly bad.

James E: And how many local rivals has he managed?

James T: How many clubs has he married? Married? Managed.

James E: Married? I don’t think he’s married any clubs, I don’t think. He’s happily married, but not to football clubs.

James T: I just feel like he gets so many jobs and at no point in his career has he proved that he’s a particularly competent manager.

James E: He [inaudible 00:16:53].

James T: Pulis was kind of like your poor man’s Allardyce, wasn’t he? He’d come in and save a club, he wouldn’t get quite the same number of wins and quite the same successful as Bolton obviously had, and you believe anyway. But he did a pretty good job at doing that sort of thing, didn’t he? He’d come in and… has he still never been relegated? Is that his thing?

James E: I think that’s him. Who’s the other one that’s never been relegated? I think you’re right ‘cause he got out of West Brom, didn’t he, the season they went down? Got out just before Christmas.

James T: Yeah, but I don’t think he’s ever been relegated.

James E: No, I think you’re right.

James T: Mark Hughes… actually, be to fair to Mark Hughes, before he signed as the Southampton manager when… although the less said about that the better, statistically, actually, Southampton’s worst-ever manager in terms of win percentage.

James E: What, ever? Since records began?

James T: Well, in a Premier League.

James E: Oh, for Christ sake, no. I’m sorry, you can’t come out with a stat like that if it’s just Premier League.

James T: We’re talking about Premier League.

James E: No, we’re not.

James T: Mark Hughes has only ever been around Premier League era.

James E: What is it about your generation? Football started way back, mate. Before the Premier League.

James T: All right, well, I tell you what, I bet if I found that out, if he’s statistically the worst manager Southampton have ever had in the Premier League, considering Southampton were pretty terrible for about ten years, I would say he’s probably going to go down as one of Southampton’s, if not the, statistically worst ever Southampton manager.

James E: Just making a point about football. That didn’t start in 1992.

James T: No one’s claiming that it did. No one’s claiming that it did.

James E: Okay, okay, okay. That shirts getting tighter. You’re flexing now, aren’t you? You’re flexing.

James T: Getting mad. 

James E: Oh, I love it when you get mad. But I suppose the thing is with all these things is why? Why do they keep getting the same jobs? Why? Why? 

James T: Well, to continue the point about the Southampton thing, I don’t know how true this is obviously, but I heard that—

James E: The liabilist? [inaudible 00:18:42?] is that we don’t want to get sued for a start. 

James T: Yeah, we don’t wanna get sued, so this hearing from somebody else who’s probably equally as uninformed as we are, but…

James E: Spectacularly so, obviously.

James T: When Hughes got the job at Southampton, I heard that he got the job because he was buddy with Les Reed who, at the time, was Southampton chairman or whatever role he had.

James E: Well, I’m sure, as any good journalist would, you’ve stood that up with three independent sources.

James T: Well, I [inaudible 00:19:09] refused to call me back.

James E: Refused to call you back, yeah.

James T: I wrote a very strongly worded letter to Mark Hughes and he didn’t get back to me either.

James E: Reedy. No, because I’ve got a few things written down. Written down. So that [inaudible 00:19:22] means they’re right.

James T: Obviously. One it’s committed to paper, it’s correct.

James E: I reckon lazy recruitment, which ties in with what you’ve just said there. Obviously you’re totally unbackable story, but I think there’s a lot of that because it’s quite a closed community. But I think then, linking in with that, the power of agents, I reckon.

James T: Any desperation goes into that as well sometimes? Some of these managers get a look in when clubs are at their most desperate, when maybe the process that they go through to find managers is too long, so they just go for a well-known name who they know what they’re getting from these managers, even if it’s not going to be spectacular?

James E: Is the problem not with the managers per se, it’s with the people that run the club? Because if, for example—

James T: Almost certainly.

James E: Swansea. So Swansea several years back obviously were [inaudible 00:20:12] division, it would’ve been old school Division Three, Division One in new money? Would’ve been, I think, when Martinez took them over and the club had a philosophy, had a way of playing, and stuff like that. He moved onto Everton, Brendan Rogers comes in, continues playing the same way, blah, blah, blah. Then was it Garry Monk after?

James T: No, Laudrup came in at some point. He did a cracking job as well.

James E: Laudrup, yeah, sorry, continued that. Then going on, continuing, it was almost like, as a club, they had a philosophy and a way of playing, and whatever manager they got… Now, in fact, in fairness to Southampton, when you had Adkins and that big [inaudible 00:20:53] of him going, and then you got someone called Pochettino who did quite well.

James T: He’s all right, isn’t he?

James E: I think so, I think so. Obviously not the best [inaudible 00:21:02] for Le Poch? [inaudible 00:21:03?] as we speak…

James T: No.

James E: …but I’m sure he’ll be all right in the long-term, whether it’s at White Hart Lane or elsewhere.

James T: [Inaudible 00:21:10] The Burn?

James E: [Inaudible 00:21:12]. 

James T: [Inaudible 00:21:15].

James E: Sorry, we went all [inaudible 00:21:17] there, didn’t we?

James T: We did, yeah.

James E: Or was it Tim Vickery? I just don’t know. And I do think as well, there’s a lot of how good your agent is and get [inaudible 00:21:29] on your own because you’ll notice this. The same ones in the public eye, when they’re out of a job, they’re on Goals on Sunday.

James T: Is that agent or is that good PR? Maybe they’ve all got the same PR company?

James E: Yeah, but your agent will get you those gigs, won’t they?

James T: Do you think it’s maybe something to do with the fact that they’ll all do the job for, in football term, on the cheap?

James E: Mm…

James T: You won’t have to pay quite as much to get Mark Hughes in, or your Mick McCarthy in.

James E: I think there’s a going rate, isn’t there?

James T: I feel like we’re gonna get…

James E: Sued?

James T: Yeah, someone’s just gonna call up, like a Mark Hughes representative who’s going to come around my house.

James E: Well, the flip side to it, is why do others not get mentioned? So, for example, for bigger jobs, like Eddie Howe, he’s done a brilliant job.

James T: He has done a really good job.

James E: He has had money to spend, absolutely, but he’s done a brilliant job, and he never gets mentioned for any of the big jobs, does he?

James T: I thought when all of the rumours were flying around last year about Pochettino possibly going to Manchester United, I thought that, if that had happened, I thought we would’ve seen Eddie Howe go to Spurs. Because I think he does deserve a job like that, having done such a cracking job at Bournemouth. You talk about philosophies, when they play well, they’re a very good team to watch.

James E: Well, I suppose linking in with that, and again we’re talking… I mean, we can go around and around the [inaudible 00:22:41] houses? In that, and at the end of the day, it’s lazy recruitment, a bit of panic, and I’m sure we could all think of appointments where you just think, crikey, what on earth happened there sort of thing?

James T: Yeah. Laziness, desperation, and, as you say, being mates with someone, maybe. You fancy a job with Southampton, Mark? Go on then, Les.

James E: Do you reckon it’s that easy?

James T: Yeah.

James E: Right. Do you fancy a job at Southampton, James?

James T: Go on then.

James E: Get in. There we go. That was me as—

James T: Actually, I wouldn’t do that. I want to see them succeed, you know?

James E: Well, yeah, but I thought I played my role as Director of Football very well.

James T: You did.

James E: I guess the other thing, well, there’s a couple of other things we were going to cover off today, and the next one was what, as a fan, do you want from your team? We actually had this conversation with a former pro the other week.

James T: A conversation or a heated debate? We were several beers deep by that point, so I think it was probably more heated than it was necessary.

James E: Well, it might be on your part, but I always try and stay quite calm, James, but that’s just the way I am. But it was winning at all costs against playing with style, and it was interesting. We obviously talked to the former pro, we were chatting with who we’re friends with.

James T: Are we going to name drop him in the podcast or are we just going to leave it?

James E: No, ‘cause I’m not sure at this point he generates enough SEO for us.

James T: Oh right, fair enough, okay.

James E: But I think he’s doing a podcast soon, so once that goes obviously global, we’ll name drop him every other sentence.

James T: Oh yeah.

James E: Yeah, so if his name was Joe Blogs, it would be like, well, we’re talking about lazy recruitment and I was speaking to Joe Blogs last week, and Joe Blogs was saying, and we’d just keep saying it and see what happens there.

James T: Yeah.

James E: Okay, before I go off on a massive tangent, and obviously he was saying, as a former pro, doesn’t give a monkeys. Just wants to win. Which I thought was interesting ‘cause, and especially as he was a midfield player, my argument to him was, if you’re a midfield player but you were playing for a Pulis side, so effectively as a midfield player you are there to take the odd throw-in, protect your back four, and basically do 90-minutes worth of shuttles, watching a ball cascade over your head.

James T: Kick someone a bit.

James E: Yeah, obviously break someone from Arsenal’s leg. If you were, allegedly, obviously, if you were—

James T: Did you write it down?

James E: What, allegedly?

James T: You wrote allegedly? So if you’d written down that they’d gone out to break someone’s legs then obviously it would be true, but if you’ve written allegedly then…

James E: I’m all right [inaudible 00:25:14]. 

James T: Tarnish that a bit.

James E: Brilliant, okay. Well, that’s what they say on telly, isn’t it? Have I Got News For You, and they go allegedly and it’s all right. I don’t know how far we can take that though.

James T: No, it’s fair enough.

James E: Okay. We haven’t as yet gotten legal counsel. The budget hasn’t quite stretched.

James T: This might be the very last episode of Barndoors & Banjos.

James E: It could be. Good point. It could be.

James T: It could have a cease and desist order after that from the aforementioned mangers.

James E: Well, let’s hope not. So it’s interesting because obviously I’ve watched my team over the last four years and, of those seasons, including this one now, three of those, or start of this season and two beforehand, played some really good football. The middle one, where we went into the Premier League, we didn’t play such good football. 

I know for me, you’ve got to play what suits your players and we’ve got players that like to play football. Now I’d much rather watch that and win 4-3, lose 4-3, whatever, then watch turgid 1-0, but I wonder if I’d have thought the same way ten years ago when I was probably a bit more passionate? I don’t know.

James T: I’ve always felt that football is entertainment for the fans. We’re not playing. Our livelihood doesn’t depend on kicking a ball around or winning or losing.

James E: Or talking about it, thankfully.

James T: Yeah, or talking about it. So I’ve always thought it’s entertainment for me and I want the teams that I watch, the football games that I tune in for, are because I want to be entertained. I want to watch good football and I want that from my team as much as I want to watch Ajax and Juventus have a cracking game as well.

So I’ve always been that way, and over the last ten years as a Southampton fan, there’s been contrasting styles and—

James E: ‘Cause you were [inaudible 00:27:01], weren’t you? Suddenly you went to that high press and all that. It was good to watch, that.

James T: Even under Adkins before the high press, they still flew forwards, they still went for it in every game, and it was great to watch. And I think we won one of the first eight games of the season in the Premier League when we came up under Adkins, but they still had a go. We nearly beat Man City in the opening game of the season. They were very good to watch. And then Pochettino came in and they still were good, and then Koeman came in and that was the pinnacle. I think we were three points out of a Champions League spot by the end of the season under Koeman.

James E: You know that, don’t you? You’re not even thinking about that.

James T: I know exactly, we were three points out of that Champions League space, which never gets talked about by the way. But then after that, we had Puel, who was a proponent of, much in the same way that I think…

James E: Puel [inaudible 00:27:51].

James T: …Marco Silva is at Everton, sideways and backwards football. Possession at all costs, which is so boring to watch. I went to a couple of games. So boring. But it is one step up from the lump it forward type of football, which is maybe perhaps more in the style of some of the managers that we’ve mentioned [inaudible 00:28:11].

James E: Well, I guess as well, and obviously only at amateur level, but, at the end of the day, when you play a game, whatever the sport is, you want to win. Well, I do anyway.

James T: Playing and watching, I think, is different though.

James E: Yeah.

James T: I think if I was playing it, yes, I’d want to win the game. If I was watching the game for entertainment, I would want to be entertained.

James E: Do you know, the other thing I learned—

James T: Winnings the bonus.

James E: No, but it’s interesting because I didn’t write it down, [inaudible 00:28:36] all the best teams play with style, and in that kind of country way in which my mind works, I didn’t write down three teams that won things and didn’t play with style.

James T: Is Arsenal on there?

James E: Ooh, right, which Arsenal’s team that?

James T: Would it be the early 90s when George Graham won with Arsenal?

James E: Uh… I think that was…

James T: They weren’t particularly fun to watch.

James E: I think they were about ’89 when they won it with the last kick of the game. They started to morph into a bit more ‘cause he had some decent midfield players, like Mickey Thomas, David Rocastle, this is obviously a bit before your time. I should point out that James is ten years younger than me?

James T: I always thought I was 30 years younger than you.

James E: Ha! Very good, very good. Top getting tighter again. Just to update on top watch, that literally I might have to carry James out. Or I might have to cut him free actually.

James T: If I pass out, it’s because the top is too tight.

James E: Yeah, I mean, I didn’t realise you were 12, obviously, during that season. Anyway, but no coming back to the [inaudible 00:29:41] I was thinking in fairly recent history, Greece 2004 Euros, I mean, the [inaudible 00:29:48].

James T: They got lucky. Come on. 

James E: Yeah, well—

James T: Come on, there’s no way anyone can look at that and go yeah, we should play like that, ‘cause Greece won.

James E: Two years later, Italy, World Cup.

James T: It’s Italian style of football a lot of the time.

James E: Yeah, I get that. And then one that you won’t remember, but I will, European Cup 1986 Steaua Bucuresti play Barcelona, managed by [inaudible 00:30:08] in the final and basically played for pens from the kick-off. And won on pens.

James T: That happened not too long ago. That was Chelsea/Bayern Munich Champions League Final 2012.

James E: I don’t think Chelsea but, I mean, I’m not a Chelsea—

James T: I think Chelsea after 20 minutes realised that they were getting—

James E: No. I think I’m as far away from a Chelsea fan as you could ever have, if I’m honest. I think I’ve made that clear, made it very clear, but I don’t think that they played for pens.

James T: No, not necessarily played for pens.

James E: Garbage, garbage.

James T: But I feel that, after 20 minutes of that game when they were getting quite clearly a lesson in football, they closed things up and didn’t try to do too much to win that game. Chelsea getting to penalties was, by the end of the game, I’m pretty sure they were the happier of the two teams.

James E: Well, yeah, they’re good at them, but they had loads of injuries, didn’t they? Terry was busy with his kit.

James T: Well, wait, are we talking about circumstances outside the football game? The reasons why teams might be playing the way they play, or just the way they play during the games?

James E: I don’t know. I mean, at the end of the day, I think there are the teams that you remember, like for example, and I always talk about it, that Barcelona team, was it 2011 when they beat Man U in the European Cup final at Wembley? It was the second time they’d beaten them in the European Cup final, or Champions League, as obviously the [inaudible 00:31:28].

James T: Championship.

James E: And I remember watching that, and I watched with a few mates, having a few beers, and it was so good I thought oh, I don’t think it was that good. I watched it again the next morning, obviously without anyone around me, without a beer, and it was probably even better. And you remember whether it’s Brazil ’70 [inaudible 00:31:50??], people of my dad’s generation will remember the Dutch team of Cruyff ’74. They didn’t win anything. They didn’t win the Euros, they didn’t win the World Cup, but the way they played. 

Have you seen ’82? Brazil ’82 broke my heart. Broke my heart as a kid. I loved watching them. And then, I remember getting home for the game, they ballsed it up against Italy 3-2. But they were brilliant soccer teams.

James T: But there’s a certain amount of… obviously winning, the Dutch team having not won the World Cup is going to smart a little bit, but the fact that we’re still talking about that Dutch team, over generations as well.

James E: That’s what I mean, yeah, yeah.

James T: I know about that Dutch team and I wasn’t watching World Cup in 1974.

James E: And I think, unless you’re German, who obviously West Germany won that, just in case, so unless you’re German, as a German fan obviously, I get the fact that it doesn’t matter how you win a World Cup, you know, you won the World Cup. Marvellous. 

James T: A lot.

James E: Marvellous, what? Is a lot in brackets there? Marvellous a lot?

James T: No, just they’ve won the World Cup a lot.

James E: Oh, they have. But what I’m saying is that, unless you’re German, you’re not going to remember that 1974 side with the affection, should we say.

James T: Right, yeah, the footballing world remembers the Dutch team.

James E: Yeah, because that Dutch team, with Ajax, changed the way that people thought, the evolution of how football was played, really.

James T: Do you think that’s possibly the biggest argument for playing with style over winning at all costs?

James E: I think it is, but you’ve got to work with what you’ve got, and the other week I was at Bradford versus Carlisle. Okay? Bear with me. 

James T: Okay.

James E: Carlisle in the first 20 minutes, they play with three at the back, played some really good stuff from the keeper, but you could tell, for example, their keeper, not every keeper is Alisson or the lad at City, so you’ve got to play within your… and to be fair, until they had a player sent off, you could see Bradford [inaudible 00:33:53] the game and ended up losing 3-1. 

But it was that thing, at least they had a way of playing, whereas Bradford set up 4-4-2, but actually it probably suited the players they had. So there’s a bit of that as well, especially when you’re inheriting a team or you’re looking around at what you can get in. And I guess the division as well.

So there we go. Final thing, James, for today, which I’ve got down, is the ten-year itch.

James T: Fancy name.

James E: Yeah. Did you like that?

James T: I did, I did.

James E: Ten years. And it was the great, I’m going to use the word great here, okay? Jonathan Wilson. Brilliant football writer. Kind of of this parish, isn’t he? He’s a Sunderland fan. Also writes for The Blizzard, Observer, Guardian, etcetera. And he has a theory, and I like it. I like the theory. He basically says that every manager, every successful manager, has a ten-year window where they’re successful. And although they might manage for 20 years, 30 years, whatever it might be, there is a ten-year slot where they happen to be successful. 

And I was thinking, it’s a really good point because the only person I can think out of a ten-year slot that’s been successful…

James T: Ferguson.

James E: …is Ferguson. Yeah, I can’t think of anyone else. You think of all the great managers going back, British managers, say [inaudible 00:35:22], maybe Matt Busby you could argue? Longer period of time. Shankly. Even Shankly, his period at Liverpool was early to mid-60s through to ‘73/74, so ten years.

James T: Was this theory for any period? Because I imagine these days, with there being maybe more money around, things can change quite drastically for a football team. I’m thinking about Man City being pretty much non-existent in any sort of title talk, often dropped out of the Premier League.

James E: Yeah, absolutely.

James T: But all of a sudden became a world-class team.

James E: Not under Brian Horton.

James T: So, I just wonder if maybe, these days, that theory can be proved even more because how long do you have at the top before another team comes along with lots of money and buys up players.

James E: Yeah, I think it’s a good point, and I think if you look at the best two mangers in the world, who would they be? I guess Guardiola and Klopp? Is that contentious or is that [inaudible 00:36:27]?

James T: I would probably say that. I would throw… I might be slightly biased, but I would throw Pochettino into the mix as well. I think he probably could manage either of those clubs to a similar level of success.

James E: But if you look at the intensity with which Guardiola works at, I don’t think it’s a surprise either for him or probably from the players who probably get sick of that intensity. That he’s pretty much been everywhere no more than sort of three, four years, and then he needs a break, and then he moves on. 

And I suppose it would be interesting to see what happens this year at City, whether he stays, needs a break, and then that’s his ten years, really, isn’t it? If you think about when he started at Barcelona in, what, 2008? So now 2019, so it’ll be interesting to see. Who knows?

James T: I think he might be someone that maybe, you know, is the exception that proves the rule, in the same way that Ferguson was. I think as well, it’s going to depend, isn’t it? If he keeps getting jobs at the top clubs in each of the leagues, then his ability to win titles is probably going to be much better than someone else’s might be who’s maybe stayed at one club for their entire career.

James E: Yeah, for sure.

James T: You look at Arsene Wenger, who’s Arsenal manager, he had an exceptional ten years at Arsenal and the other years around that, maybe not quite as successful, but he stayed at that one club.

James E: Well, the first ten… by the way, thanks for pointing out he is Arsenal manager. Nice [inaudible 00:38:00] for our overseas listeners there just in case.

James T: Yeah.

James E: Just being a little bit facetious there. Creating obviously that tension and chemistry that we like on the podcast. But he was ten years successful, ten years not, wasn’t he? But the first ten was good.

James T: Yeah, so he’s almost the perfect example of that theory, but he did stay at Arsenal for 20 years.

James E: He did.

James T: When Arsenal went through times where they couldn’t spend so much money because they spent it all on a stadium. Ferguson, I guess, would be the exception to the rule because he did stay at Man United for that amount of time and he was successful pretty much the entire time he was there, apart from the first three or four years at Man United when he nearly lost his job?

James E: That’s right, [inaudible 00:38:00] really, yeah. But you wouldn’t get three years now, would you?

James T: No.

James E: You’d get around three months.

James T: So I just wonder, and I’m not taking anything away from Pep, but he has managed, at the time, the best team in Spain.

James E: Ooh.

James T: The best team in Germany and been given endless resources at Man City. I wonder if he’d maybe stayed at Barcelona for 20 years, would he have had that 10 and 10 years maybe with another [inaudible 00:38:39]?

James E: Maybe, if I’m honest though, I’m going to argue against that because I am. I think the way he plays and the football and the level that he plays at, it needs the best players. And I don’t just mean best as in technically best, upstairs it’s the brightest players, and who knows? It’d be great to see if he went to say Carlisle for six months and transform them, I don’t know. I kind of think that, like in every walk of life, players as well, have a shelf of actually how good they are and the ability to retain, repeat, and do to a high level is why those guys play in the top division and why other players play in Division Three.

James T: No, I get that, I guess it’s just out of interest, really, curiosity more than anything. It would be interesting to see how some of these managers who only ever get the top jobs in football may have done… you know, you see Pochettino come from obscurity to getting a job at Spurs and being touted as a potential manager for Manchester United or Real Madrid. And he proved himself at a smaller club, didn’t he, before he went up there. Klopp you could argue. Probably similar. But Pep was kind of straight into the Barcelona job, and then the Bayern Munich job.

James E: To be fair, Barcelona B or C as well, so it’s quite a jump, that.

James T: It is, but I would always find it interesting… like I said, I’m not taking anything away from him, I just always find it interesting to see how these managers might do at clubs where they didn’t have either the best team or the most resources in that league or the biggest opportunity to win things. You know, how would Mourinho do at Wolves? It’d just be interesting to see how they would do it. Would Pep be able to get the same levels…

James E: Well, he knows the agent, so he’s probably all right there.

James T: You know, would Pep be able to get a drastically different performance out of Newcastle right now? I would just find it intriguing to see if that would actually work. ‘Cause I think if Pep is going to be someone that ends up disproving this theory and having 20, 30 years as an amazing manager who wins everything, if that’s always at the top clubs that have the most money to spend and the best players that they can buy, then is that not a slight asterisk by the name?

James E: No.

James T: No?

James E: I’m not having it. I’m not having it. But I like the fact that you’ve started an anti-Pep’s situation.

James T: It’s not an anti-Pep thing, he’s a great manager, we just agreed before, him and Klopp and, as I say, I would probably throw Pochettino. They’re probably the three best managers around at the minute. At least from what I see on a regular basis. There are obviously some talented coaches elsewhere as well. I’m not taking anything away from him. Just out of curiosity.

James E: No, you just put an asterisk next to him, which seems a bit harsh.

James T: Well, you know, you change your club every three or four years, to move to another one that has lots of resources.

James E: Well, I think the only thing with that is, here’s a theory for you. If you’re a manager of anything, or in charge of anything, I think after three or four years, whether it was football or anything else, I think the things that you talked about, coached, mentored, advised, or whatever you want to call it, I reckon after three or four years, it’s very difficult for that person to have anything new to say, and so I think either you move yourself on or, I suppose like Ferguson did, you have to go on a new cycle and recruit a new team.

James T: Yeah, I was going to say, the fact that he did what he did over the time that he did it, it completely disproves that.

James E: Not quite, not quite, ‘cause I reckon here’s another one. This is fun, isn’t it, James? Maybe not for our listeners, but certainly for us. I still use plural there for listeners, did you like that?

James T: Yeah.

James E: ‘Cause I presume that we’ll have at least one person each who’ll listen to this.

James T: I think if both of our wives listen to it out of pity, then that’s two. So that’s plural.

James E: I’m not sure I’ll be able to convince Mrs. E, if I’m honest.

James T: All right, well, we’ll definitely have one.

James E: Okay. Well done, Mrs. T. No, the thing I was gonna say was [inaudible 00:43:21] do is changes his system every four years or so, and the assistant was the one that took the training on a day-to-day basis. He would just observe. So I think that also freshens up the messaging and stuff, doesn’t it? ‘Cause Ferguson oversees it and delivers the odd hairdryer or whatever, but at the end of the day, on a day-to-day basis, it’s the first team coach that’s delivering the training message, if you will.

James T: Mm-hm.

James E: Interesting though. [Inaudible 00:43:51].

James T: I do think the theory is an interesting one and it does seem to follow, when you look at most managers, that they have about that ten-year window. I don’t know if it’s that their philosophy fits particularly well into that era of football and then football changes so all of a sudden it’s not quite… because if you look at what Arsenal was doing when Wenger first joined, that was a bit different to how football has been played. He sort of changed things in the Premier League and they had a lot of success, but then football changed again, and he didn’t really adapt to it.

James E: Yeah, for sure. For sure. I like it. I don’t know why I lapsed sort of into McClaren there.

James T: He’s another one, isn’t he?

James E: He is. He’s another one. He’s another one.

James T: We forgot to mention McClaren on the manager merry-go-round.

James E: But Roy Keane always talks highly about him as a coach. One thing I was going to point out, as we maybe wrap up our chat on the world of management, was how good is the Norwich managers hair? How good is that hair? How good. Now obviously, for those listening, I’m probably more towards the [inaudible 00:44:57] right said Fred end(???) where it comes to hair, obviously as opposed to any other preference, but Farke, it is Farke, isn’t it? That’s how you pronounce it? I’m not just swearing relentlessly in the microphone. 

What a great hairstyle he has. You’re actually looking at it now.

James T: I am, yeah. He does. I hadn’t really noticed that.

James E: Have you not noticed it?

James T: It just looked like a regular sort of, he’s got long hair type of hairstyle.

James E: No, no, you look at it when he’s interviewed and he’s obviously had a hat on or just got out of the shower, and there’s a lot of hair going on there. There’s a lot of hair. But it’s a very high forehead, very high forehead, but with sort of a quilted mat [inaudible 00:45:36?]. It reminds me of Lego hair. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Lego hair?

James T: You’re asking the world if they’re familiar with Lego?

James E: Lego, yeah. Lego. And other building block lines are available.

James T: I’ve heard of Lego, yeah. Yeah.

James E: But yeah, I just thought, I don’t know why, Daniel Farke’s hair just came to mind there and I just quite like it. But maybe that’s just anyone with hair I quite enjoy.

James T: I was going to say, was that because it’s quite a bit different to the situation that you’ve got going on?

James E: It is. Well, I mean, obviously of a personal choice, I just like to have mine really short. Really short. Just to let the air and the sun get onto it.

James T: Tan the head. 

James E: Quite so, quite so, hopefully without damaging it, obviously. Wearing a factor 30 to be precautious at all times.

James T: Of course, yeah.

James E: At all times. So, Mr. James, have you got anything else to add to our first podcast? Is there anything else you want to bring up this week?

James T: No, I don’t think so.

James E: How have you found it, mate? How have you found the first one?

James T: I thought it was all right, wasn’t it?

James E: It’s difficult to know, isn’t it? 

James T: It is, yeah.

James E: It’s difficult to know.

James T: Don’t know if what we’re talking about, which is interesting to us, is going to be remotely interesting to anybody else.

James E: No, fair point, fair point. And as I say, hopefully you found us somewhere in that wild world of podcastery, and if you have, please— 

James T: [Laughs].

James E: What, are you not liking that?

James T: You just sound like you’re going to start asking for £2/month to help adopt us [inaudible 00:47:04]??

James E: Yeah, I was going to say. 

James T: And if you are a legal representative of Mark Hughes, Tony Pulis, Steve Bruce, Mick McCarthy, or Sam Allardyce, you can take this last part as an apology and we don’t want our doors kicked in by football lawyers or [inaudible 00:47:07].

James E: Well, you might be apologising. You brought their names up.

James T: Yeah.

James E: Yeah.

James T: You asked me who was part of the merry-go-round. I feel like you’re definitely part of this.

James E: Do you?

James T: I do. I feel if they’re gonna come for me, they’re gonna come for you.

James E: I’m not apologising on the basis that, if we failed in our jobs, I wouldn’t get paid two million quid to be a failure, so I’m not apologising.

James T: Yeah, that’s a fair point, actually. I take it back.

James E: Yeah. Brilliant.

James T: The win percentages speak for themselves.

James E: Absolutely.

James T: The stats are there for everyone to see.

James E: 19%. 19%. But to be fair, Sunderland did not win a game for like a decade.

James T: You can’t say to be fair if he was the manager during the time they did not win the games.

James E: Why can’t I say to be fair?

James T: It sounded like you said 19%, but to be fair, like as if that was an excuse, but he was the manager at the time when they weren’t winning games.

James E: Ooh, yeah, you’re right. Yeah. Good point.

James T: So there’s no to be fair there.

James E: There isn’t, you’re right.

James T: No. The 19% is… yeah.

James E: Thank you. Thank you. Classic correction. I presume you might look at that on the edit. James is very much the technical boffin of the two of us.

James T: No, that’s staying in.

James E: The boffin bit?

James T: Just the correcting bit.

James E: Oh, right, okay. Well, thanks ever so much everyone. As I say, we look forward to engaging you with more football-related chat over the coming weeks and months on Barndoors & Banjos, and that’s been brought to you today by James Squared, and we look forward to speaking with you all again soon.

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