Monday, 1 October 2007

It’s not what ya know, it’s who ya know…

JJ here,
Now, not that I would want to dance on the misfortune of a thoroughly awful human being, but by god it’s good to see John Gregory has been found out again as the joker he truly is. I watched the 5-1 drubbing that West Brom handed his tepid QPR side on Sunday and, looking like an eighties vampire as per usual, oul Johnny was not a happy fella.

His chairman, Gianni Paladini, would take only 24 hours to give his good friend Gregory the heave-ho and with a heavy heart he told the BBC, “It was a very hard thing to do. I have nothing but admiration for what John has done for the club.”

This is the point that you realise that Paladini had long since ceased to be a sensible chairman and instead become an over-protective friend. Gregory’s time in charge saw QPR play 48 games, lose 23, win 13 and draw 12. Yup, with a win ratio of less than 30 per cent, Gregory’s mark will stay with the club for a long time Gianni. I’d say the fans will miss him as much as Nottingham Forest supporters treasure their memories of David Platt’s infamously idiotic time in charge there.

The sad thing is, in football, it’s really not what you know at all, but who you know… and what they can get you and how large can your buy-out clause be. Hiring your friends to positions that are worth hundreds of thousands of euro (and that’s at the lower end of the scale) is common practice in the game, yet few chairman seem to realise they’re on to a loser.

Being friends with those in charge might get you the job but it won’t keep you there. Just as sure as Gregory will prop up the dole queue in west London in the coming days, John Barnes shall never return to management. The Liverpool legend was brought to Celtic at the turn of the century, during which time his brainwaves seemed to be the only thing affected by the Y2K virus. He was a good friend to Celtic’s then kingpin on football matters, Kenny Dalglish, and got the job because of that and nothing else.

When Barnes was being escorted out of Celtic Park in a police van surrounded by thousands of angry supporters as Celtic crashed out of the Scottish Cup to Inverness, even he had to realise that perhaps he wasn’t up to the job.

Bryan Robson was Boro chairman Steve Gibson’s best mate for the guts of a decade before the latter saw the light at last and off-loaded the once great player and his awful brand of football. They became too close and had Robson been given the sack earlier, the talent that was in his side could have been far better utilised.

But episodes like this haven’t stopped chairman from ignoring logic and their fans’ wishes when making appointments. Dennis Wise being chosen for Leeds United by his mate Ken Bates springs to mind (nope, seven wins and a draw in the third division does not count as good management when you consider last season). Then there are the obvious two examples that currently have fans of their respective teams tearing their hair out: Avram Grant and Stan Staunton.

Grant was hired due to being good company around a dinner table. Stan was hired for being great craic whenever he met up with FAI (god I shudder when I write this) ‘supremo’ John Delaney for a few scoops.

It doesn’t work. Managers should be hired on their record and not a friendship with a chairman. Gregory had not been in management since 2003 before he was hired last year by Rangers; this surely should have said something to his friend. But no, against all sense in the world he hired him and Paladini now must deal with the consequences.

But like Gibson, Delaney, Dalglish and countless others, he can have no one to blame but himself. There are even rumours that another friend of his, Gianluca Vialli, may take over. Well what with his sterling record in the Championship (a 40 per cent win-rate from five years ago with Watford) who could argue with that.

He’ll be hiring from Facebook next.


Mal said...

Do you remember when Gregory was at Villa? Any mention of his name in the UK media was prefaced with "future England Manager". Pity it didn't come to pass.

JJ said...

Yeah, he came in at the tail end of one season and did well, then started the next year brilliantly before he started believing his own press and became a massive arsehole.

Still, he could hardly do as poorly as second choice steve. Actually, yeah he probably would.

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