In what will be my final post of 2017, I wanted to take the chance to talk about change. Change is a word that will be thrown around a lot when things are not going as you might like. Time to change the coach. Time to change the players.
When the time does come for change, it’s often made by the owners, who in turn, are very often not targeted in the category of things to be changed. With the Bucs hurtling towards a 50% decline on their record vs last year, the harbingers of change have come calling. This past Monday, we acquired what might be considered the perfect loss. We played well, showed promise, but still lost. Losing isn’t something we want to be doing, but right now, losing is possibly the best way to take anything positive from this season, in the draft.
Change, to make or become different
The definition of change, “to make or become different”. It suggests that removal of a person is not the only cure for the issues that the Bucs currently face. The coach is very easy to target and there is perhaps a strong case for change. There is also a decent argument against it too. In this post, I want to compare the management of the Bucs in recent seasons, to the management of one of the Glazers other projects here in the UK, Manchester United.
The Glazers first invested in Manchester United, one of the biggest football (soccer) teams in the world, back in 2003. Within 2 years their initial stake of just over 3%, had grown to complete ownership. What were they buying? At the time, Manchester United was the dominant force in UK football. They had won the league title 8 out of the previous 11 years, as well as many other titles. The landscape was beginning to change though, more money was coming into football and United dominance was about to be challenged. (read more about how money heavily influences UK football in my previous blog post)
When the takeover was completed, not only did the Glazers now own the might of Manchester United, they also had one of the most successful coaches in history. Alex Ferguson began as Manchester United ‘manager’ in 1986, and in 1990 was reported to be incredibly close to being fired. He wasn’t fired. 3 years later he won the first of THIRTY-EIGHT trophies during twenty-six years in charge. Imagine if the owners had decided back in 1990 that Ferguson was the wrong guy…
After the Glazers takeover, there were a few years of transition. There were actually a good few years of disgruntlement from the fans too. The Glazers began the process of addressing the clubs finances and to the untrained eye, seemingly pushing the club into debt. During this period of change, one thing remained constant as the rebuilding work took place. The manager. In 2006/07 Manchester United won their first league title under the Glazer era. The next year they won their second. The following year, a third. There was another 2 years later, and again 2 years after that.
When Ferguson retired in 2013, the time for change finally came. Who would step into his very, very big shoes? With the same person being in charge for over a quarter of a century, change was something very new to the fans. Many fans had never known another manager be in charge of their club. This would be the first opportunity for the new owners to explore options and make a judgment call. The next up to bat as “the chosen one” was David Moyes. As a sign of the clubs commitment to him and their desire for stability, they gave Moyes a 6-year contract. Contracts of this length are uncommon in football. It’s a result driven business with a lot of money on the line, such a commitment comes with huge risk.
Once John Gruden’s tenure came to end at the Bucs, a cycle of quick turnover began in the quest for the next man to lift a Superbowl. Morris got 3 years, his successor 2 years and prior to Koetter, Lovie Smith also got two years. Koetter is a few games away from completing 2 years in charge.
David Moyes was the first in the door at Manchester United. He lasted less than a year at the helm of the biggest club in the world. Perhaps the pressure was too much. Maybe expectation levels were too high? Either way, the Glazers were not going tolerate failure and the hunt was on for the next man up. The next permanent recruitment came in the way of Louis Van Gaal. Perhaps not well known outside the world of soccer, but having managed some of the biggest clubs in the world and also the Dutch national team, he was not lacking in experience. What he did apparently lack, was luck. Despite winning the FA Cup during his second year in charge, he was fired. 1 coach for 26 years, now 2 in 3 years.
The current owner of the Manchester United poisoned chalice is Jose Mourinho, appointed in May 2016. Mourinho again has managed some of the biggest clubs in the world. In his first year, the club won 3 trophies, but not the league. As I write this post, we are approaching the halfway mark in the league season, United are in 2nd place and trail their local rivals Manchester City by 11 points – basically 4 wins. For most, this would be seen as a decent season so far. For Manchester United, this would be deemed another season of failure. Could Mourinho soon be kicked to the curb too?
There are many reasons why a coach/manager might be fired, but if you do this on a regular basis you are going to create even more issues. Success can often be born from stability. Continuous change prevents stability and can create the opposite effect.
It’s looking more and more likely that Coach Koetter will be walking the proverbial plank towards Black Monday. Whether this is right or wrong, is likely not something we will get closure on for a while. Koetter will seemingly not have the chance to prove his worth as a head coach, not at the Bucs anyway. The time for change will be here once again.
If you believe the murmurs, Gruden will be our Messiah and return to guide the Bucs back to the promised land. This is not something I think is a good idea. Coach Gruden has been out of the game for a long time, things change. He also has a legacy here, one which would be more likely under threat than anything else. It feels like it would be more of a PR stunt. It’s apparently what the fans want, meaning it will help sell tickets. It all boils down to money in the end.
I don’t know who is the man to lead the Bucs to glory, for all I know, it might be Koetter. What I do know is that the Bucs are getting a bad reputation as a bad place to work for a Head Coach. It will take a brave person to leave a job to take up the captaincy of the Bucs ship. Those with families might not want to up sticks and move house when they might have to do it all over again in two years time…
Thanks, and happy holidays.
I wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks to anyone who has taken the time to read my drivel this season. I’ve enjoyed working with the team here at WhatTheBuc and I’ve had some nice comments on Twitter. I will be back in January to talk about my first trip to the see the Bucs on New Year’s Eve. Despite the current performances, I’m really excited about the trip. I’m also heading out to Minneapolis in Feb to soak up Superbowl week, which I’ll report on once I return to a slightly warmer U.K.
I hope that everyone enjoys the holidays. Drink responsibly, tip your waitress and most of all, have fun. Time is something that can easily pass us by, use the holidays to savor and appreciate what you have.
See you in 2018, go Bucs. Simon