Dean Smith’s appointment as temporary manager at Leicester City means the Premier League now has six short term bosses.
More caretakers than in the entire 30 year run of kids’ TV classic Grange Hill.
Smith, Roy Hodgson, Cristian Stellini, Frank Lampard, Ruben Selles and Javi Gracia are all under huge pressure at some of our biggest clubs yet they could all be out of work at the end of June.
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The gig economy has finally arrived in the bloated world of top level football - at least for the blokes at the sharp end picking the teams.
It’s a world away from Alan Pardew’s famous eight year contract at Newcastle. Canny Pards was still being paid by former owner Mike Ashley three and a half years after getting sacked.
But the latest trend for recruiting roving guns for hire to take charge of some of our biggest teams on ridiculously short term deals is a landmark moment.
Long gone is the tradition that the manager is the highest paid person at the club.
That went out of the window years ago as the Sky TV money started rolling in - straight into the pockets of the players who now call the shots.
No, now we have reached a point where the head coach, caretaker boss, interim manager, call him what you will, is a freelancer brought in to fight fires on the field and dig the owners out of big trouble.
Whoever envisaged some of our biggest names in football being treated like Uber drivers, Deliveroo riders or seasonal workers at a seaside funfair?
Sign up for a few weeks’ work and if you don’t impress the boss you’re out on your ear at the end of it with no payoff.
It’s the sort of policy that will make the likes of Tory toff Jacob Rees-Mogg proud. The free market in its purest form stretching its tentacles into an industry where too much money has been doing serious damage for too long.
Of course, the dirty half dozen currently on temporary deals in the Premier League are being handsomely rewarded. And it no doubt suits 75-year-old Hodgson to supplement his pension with a few bob out of Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish’s pocket.
But with more than a quarter of the 20 elite Premier League clubs now employing casual labour to get results at the business end of the season, what does it mean for the title of manager in a wider sense?
None of the six teams who have turned to caretaker bosses are having a good time of it.
Southampton are rock bottom of the table, Palace were in freefall before Hodgson rocked up, Chelsea is a mess, Leicester have sunk into the bottom three, Leeds are firmly in the relegation dogfight and Tottenham were thrown into an all-out civil war by the incendiary remarks of sacked boss Antonio Conte.
But where once it was believed that in such perilous circumstances it was time for a steady hand from the board of directors, it is now thought that outright panic is the way forward.
All that money sloshing around in football is too important to risk with even the merest thought of relegation or not making the top four and money-spinning Champions League football.
Plus, getting a bloke in to fix the problem on a three month deal saves a fortune in payouts like the estimated £26 million Chelsea alone have stumped paying off Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter within the last seven months.
The position of Team Manager was once regarded as the highest form of authority at any club. Certainly, Bill Shankly, Brian Clough, Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger would not have had it any other way.
But in some quarters the gravity and status associated with the man who puts his reputation and mental health on the line when writing 11 names on a team sheet each week is being gradually eroded.
Being a football manager is often referred to as the ‘hot seat’ - that used to be down to the pressure being exerted on the person in it to get things right.
Now it is frictional heat caused by so many different arses moving in and out of it on a weekly basis.
All six current caretaker bosses will have their positions reviewed on June 30 when all contracts in football expire.
If you live in south west London or Surrey it might be worth summoning an Uber on July 1 because you never know, Frank Lampard might be your driver.
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