This week has been a week of departures and arrivals in the world of politics- Tony Blair has left the British and world political stage- making way for the old Chancellor Gordon Brown- and others have been brought in by Mr Brown. But its not only politics which has seen departures and arrivals- there have been significant events in the world of sport as well- particularly at two clubs- Real Madrid and Manchester City. Both changes aren't neccessarily positive- and both reflect the way that boardroom egos can constrain the way that the playing staff and managerial staff work.
Why winning the league isn't enough
Fabio Capello's eviction at Real Madrid came as no surprise- it had long been leaked that the Madrid heirarchy were unhappy with the brand of football that Capello's teams played. Madrid last year were a hardworking team- a team that took on Barcelona not with the skill of the galactico era, but rather with hard graft and good defensive principles. Capello brought in Fabio Cannavaro, Emerson and Diarra- all three of them defensive players. He also brought in Sergio Ramos one of the most promising young defenders in the world.
Capello's team struggled towards the beggining of the season- but after recalling David Beckham and losing in the Champion's League the team recovered its sense and towards the end of the season without playing particularly well, the team struggled over the touchline ahead of Barcelona and Seville. Capello's push for Madrid to get over that line was more of a triumph than it might seem- facing an imperious Barcelona led by Etoo and Ronaldhino two of the great forward players of the world at the moment- many thought Madrid's ageing line up of ex-superstars- Raul, Ronaldo and Beckham in particular- wouldn't cope with the season. Indeed at the beggining it looked like the last four years at Madrid- a season of failure- having said that the revival of the last six months swept away all competition leaving Madrid the winners of the Spanish League.
For Capello this makes it the second period of office at Madrid where a league title has been followed swiftly by the sack. He's also won the Italian Championship several times- most recently with Juventus (though some of those titles have been stripped away after matchfixing convictions against members of the Juve staff). Capello's sacking though looks unwise- a good manager- he has been sacked for reviving a team but not doing it in a beautiful enough way- the board clearly does not appreciate the difficulty of taking on Barcelona in the way that they want to take on Barca. Its not always possible to be pretty and win- but just try telling that to the Madrid Board. It looks like they've made a decisive wrong decision- time to turn to a club where decisive decisions are not at a premium.
Manchester City and the perils of indecision
At least Real have taken their decision- possibly looking at Arsene Wenger's situation at Arsenal- at Manchester City the club has endured without a manager now since May. The Board of the club have been selling it to Thaksin Shinawatra for months now- though it seems finally the ex Prime Minister of Thailand has got his hands on the club. During that time the best two players at the club- Joey Barton and Sylvain Distin- have left for 5 million pounds in total. The club doesn't have many players and definitely needs a good manager.
And so City fans were heartened by the news this week that Sven Goran Eriksson- the ex manager of England, Lazio and various Swedish clubs- might take the job. However because of the uncertainty over the management of the club- Thaksin nicknamed Frank by City fans for some inexplicable reason awaits to be judged a fit and proper person to be a member of a club board by the League soon- there still remains uncertainty about who might be the next manager. How long will Mr Eriksson wait for the privilege of managing the club- in particular should he be running out of time to make transfers the Swede might decide that the task is too difficult.
Some people express doubts about Eriksson- but like Capello in club football his reputation is formidable- he has won championships in Italy, cups in Sweden and done well in Europe. His time with England was marred by losing penalty shootouts and also by things outside football- possibly he went one Championship too far- but even so its often forgot that Mr Eriksson changed the style of English football after its near demise under Kevin Keegan. Both Mr Eriksson and Mr Capello are not universally popular with fans for a variety of reasons- boards are often tempted to act against such managers- and when they appoint those types of managers it demonstrates courage. Real demonstrated courage last year- but this year in sacking Capello it seems to me that they have demonstrated cowardice.
But the case of Manchester City may prove something more important- chaos ultimately creates chaos and hence its better to decisively make a bad decision than indecisivvely make a good one. Thaksin's slow takeover risks leaving Manchester City in the second position- unable to appoint a good man to take the club forward at a point when they really need a manager to start rebuilding the team.
Both Real and City fans should be worried- but if I were a City fan I'd be looking at my watch and pondering- when will my club have a manager- and will managers be tempted to join a club which doesn't have a direction at the moment.