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Why can't managers keep still? Not Irish. Although he does drink a lot of Guinness.

Byline: Paddy Shennan

I BLAME the technical area.

Do you remember the days when football managers were not seen and not heard? Some fans didn't even know the names of the bosses of some teams.

This was the long-gone era when managers sat in the dug-out, watching the match - and not pretending they could affect it by doing anything other than making substitutions.

But the introduction of the technical area - those marked, rectangular patches of grass in front of the dug-outs-allowed managers and coaches the opportunity to pretend to be their team's 12th man.

Many managers, thankfully, refuse to take the p*** - by refusing to get animated. They may stand in the area, thereby making themselves more visible than the old school bosses, but it's still simply a watching brief.

Others, however, like our worst, most preening referees, can't seem to resist the temptation to make a right spectacle of themselves.

The mere sight of a manager or coach on the touchline, of course, is sometimes enough to provoke opposition supporters. Fans across the country, for example, were always keen to advise former Liverpool assistant boss Phil Thompson to "Sit down, Pinocchio" while Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's appearance on football's version of the catwalk inspires a far less wholesome chant.

Manchester City's Stuart Pearce is, perhaps, the manager who covers more blades of grass in his technical area during a match than anyone else in the game.

Many easily-impressed fans probably think this makes him a better manager than someone who sits still and Sven-like for 90 minutes: "Look at him, he's kicking every ball. He's obviously one of us - he's feeling it"

I just think he's a tiresome and irritating show-off: "Look at me! I'm passionate and I CARE. I'm doing everything but play the game."

But as to the effect it is having on his players... have you seen their away form? It can't be making that much difference, can it?

And so we come to the ridiculous sight of West Ham's Alan Pardew and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger squaring up to each other like a couple of big kids, in that no man's land between their technical areas.

It was pretty pathetic and pitiful. Sulky puss Wenger, we know, is a bad loser (and let's hope he is a loser tonight, when he brings his team to Goodison Park to play Everton in the Carling Cup), while there's something about the seemingly-reasonable and seemingly-urbane Pardew which I can't quite put my finger on - while his clenched fist celebration, apparently directed at his rival, was fairly juvenile.

But if the pair of them had spent the match sitting, like good boys, in their dug-outs, then the ugly face-off would not have happened.

And this is an issue which will concern thousands of disaffected fans across the country - after all, if they have to sit down, why should managers be allowed to stand up?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 8, 2006
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