Huw Jenkins has built a sustainable long-term model at the Swans
8 December ~ The Twittersphere had him written off on Monday morning, while those vaguely necrophiliac betting sites focused on managerial sackings had him odds-on, but Garry Monk got through at least the first day of the working week still in a job.
Swansea fans are torn between apprehension at the dire form which has the relegation places looming and continued faith in a long-term club favourite. Most clubs have been through similar, but less usual is the extent to which most Swans fans trust theirs to make the right decision.
Among the many chants favoured by the Swans faithful is "we love our chairman". It is, like much of the repertoire, aimed at Cardiff City, who famously do not love theirs. But it is also a genuine tribute to Huw Jenkins and his leadership over the last dozen years. Not least of its achievements has been to debunk the assumption that managers are the main, even sole, determinant of club performance.
The Swans have been through seven bosses while rising 81 finishing places up the League. Some of us would like to argue that this reflects a sustainable long-term model under which managers, rather than defining the club’s culture, are fitted into it. But there’s also a nagging voice which says that is still about a single defining figure, this time the chairman.
Jenkins, who collects an OBE for services to football today, is neither the richest nor the most charismatic or articulate of the board who came together in the early years of this century. He is easy to underestimate at first sight. But this moderately successful local businessman has clearly found his metier as Swansea’s chairman, and de facto director of football. His has been the philosophy, emphasising frugality and continuity while accepting no upper limit on ambition, which has underpinned the club’s rise.
And even if reducing the all-powerful role of managers – for instance insisting that they work with existing club coaches – makes it easier to make the right appointment, Jenkins has also chosen very well. All seven have taken the club forward. Monk would have gone by now at most clubs, but the achievements of the last 12 years were not secured by acting like most clubs.
Jenkins is a reluctant sacker but not – as Brian Flynn, Michael Laudrup and the "mutually consented" Kenny Jackett could all confirm – a total abstentionist. A personal hope remains that he sticks with Monk. If he does not, there is a strong case for the return of Brendan Rodgers. Failing that, one of Mark Warburton, Paul Tisdale, Sean Dyche or Paco Jémez might be a good fit.
Huw Jenkins will call one wrong one day. But his record means that, even were he to sack Monk and give the job to Harry Redknapp, Robbie Savage or Michael Gove, he would get the benefit of the doubt. Huw Richards