Managerial madness

Last updated : 07 December 2004 By Keith Allman
Milan has had an idea which, on the face of it, seems like common sense. "Zajec did not want the job full-time but I am happy to keep him in place until we find the right man", said Mr Chairman. Seems fair enough to me, after all this is one of the most important appointments in our history. Harry was very successful - didn't he love telling us about it - and whoever follows up has got a fair weight on their shoulders, not to mention all the fuss in the media about our "Director of Football". Ignore the fact we don't actually have one of course, it's all about press perception.

What DOES concern me however is this talk that Zajec might be in charge for the rest of the season, as told to Sky Sports News. Now hold your horses here! The goalposts are moving at a ridiculous rate of knots. First, there had been no contact with Zajec. Then he would never have anything to do with the first team. Now he's in charge of the first team, but we'll have a new manager by January. Now, he might take over for another six months?!

Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against Zajec. In fact, I quite like him in a way. He's not gone out shooting his mouth off in the press, kept a dignified silence and distance from the whole mess, and seems like a bit of a mystery character. More than that, we've won two league games in a row! Fan-bloody-tastic! Even so, I don't think that's cause to keep him in. Football IS a results business, but Bolton was borne out of a fantastic defensive performance, plus the "honeymoon" that comes from any change of manager. Then we travel to Watford and get trounced; then we get lucky to beat West Brom. Our new "continental" style of possession football failed miserably at Vicarage Road and enraged all and sundry on Saturday, before our lucky break when the Baggies pressed the self destruct button. If we'd been playing anyone other than the worst team I've seen at Fratton in years, it could've all been so different.

The situation I keep thinking of, and it's one that seriously disturbs me, is Pleat at Spurs last season. Despite originally taking over as a "caretaker", he seemed to hang around for ever, ended up bringing in his own players in without ever actually being appointed properly in charge, had to field questions about his future every week; as a result they fell to pieces and had a rubbish season. The fact is, professional footballers are like little children, and everytime something goes wrong they cry their iddy-biddy eyes out. We need someone who is at the front of the club, a big name who is DEFINITELY our manager, someone who can bring stability and ensure our big babies get their feeding time and nappies changed. (I realise this analogy is going off track, but bear with me). With caretaker managers, players get concerned - I'm in the team now, but what happens next week? What about in the transfer window? Will we buy anyone? Am I at risk? What about my big money? When is the new manager going to come in? What happens then? AARRGH!

Fact is, sooner or later we're going to have to make our mind up. It's one thing delaying and waiting for "the right man", but who the hell is "the right man"? Milan is going to have to call a press conference pne day and say that Mr Bloggs is the manager of Portsmouth FC. I respect his decision to delay it and make sure we don't screw up, but how long can we wait realistically? We can put it off all we like - apparently sorting 30 applicants down to just 4 - but soon we're going to have to take the risk and appoint our new manager. We can't afford the confusion of this floating Vel/Kev/Joe situation. Egos will clash eventually, players will get concerned, new signings won't want to come to a club seen as "confused".

Make sure we choose our manager carefully of course, the future of our club is at stake. But we must do it by January and the transfer window, otherwise the second half of the season is going to be tough.

Of course, if Velimir stays in charge and we get into Europe, I'll delete this article and we'll pretend I never said anything. Deal?