Managers

Some are wild cards, some club stalwarts. Jon Spurling looks at the life of the acting manager

Newcastle and Sunderland rarely admit to having anything in common, yet the clubs’ recent moves to formalise the positions of Joe Kinnear and Ricky Sbragia represents a rare moment of triumph for caretaker managers. The fact that both clubs hankered after bigger names suggests that neither man’s position is secure, but at least they are likely to emerge with their self respect intact, unlike many hapless interim appointments.

Al Needham remembers Jimmy Sirrel, Nottingham’s second most famous football manager, who died last month

It’s very easy to see Jimmy Sirrel, who died on September 25 at the age of 86, as someone who worked in the shadow of Brian Clough; a decent enough manager who did his best with extremely limited resources, but could only look on while his neighbour on the other side of the Trent took the glory. That is not the case at all. Sirrel was just as important to the ’Pies as Clough was to the Garibaldis.

He's a big name, but Chelsea's new manager has fallen one step shorter of glory each time with Portugal and Luiz Felipe Scolari's critics are well stocked with ammunition, as Phil Town reports

Third time lucky, then, for Luiz Felipe Scolari: courted by Benfica at the time of Euro 2004 and by England at the last World Cup, now Chelsea’s riches have lured him away from the Selecção. But Blues fans may wish to study closely Felipão’s final report card, after his five-and-a-half years as ­Portugal’s Seleccionador.

No matter what his team does on the field, Avram Grant is always able to rely on his home support in Israel, writes Shaul Adar

“We will put you on hold, Shaul, you’ll be on-air in a minute,” said the producer at Radio Tel Aviv, where I was about to do a radio interview. In the background I could hear Rom Kofman, an Israeli sports shock jock booming over the airwaves. “I’m telling you, those English are stinking farts, pompous morons, lifeless stiffs. Anybody with over nine years of education is a minister. They can’t take Avram’s sense of humour and that’s why the tabloids hunt him.”

Why have a director of football as well as a head coach? Luke Chapman is not alone in wondering if the answer at Spurs is to provide an extra person to blame in a crisis, ahead of the club’s chairman

As divorces go, it was messy, underhand and undignified. Two months after Martin Jol’s position became untenable and hours before kick-off in the UEFA Cup tie against Getafe, mobiles buzzed with the news that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy had finally decided the union with his manager was over. With his players conspicuously failing to do it for their boss, Jol then had to sit on the bench and play the part of manager one last time, a sorry end in keeping with recent events at the Lane.

{mosimage} That didn’t last long. There will be no more jokes about Big Sam and Little Sam at Bolton – but Chris Deary wonders whether Gary Megson will become the biggest joke of all

With the nation picking over the bones of England’s hat-trick of sporting failures in football, rugby and Formula One, it was a good week for Bolton to bury the bad news. Sammy Lee had managed just three wins from 14 games since taking over from Sam Allardyce in April, leaving Wanderers second from bottom. Yet the timing of his departure on October 17 – ten days after his last game (a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea) and only three days before a daunting trip to Arsenal – suggests it was not just about results. 

José Mourinho has unexpectedly returned home – to make headlines, if not to work. Phil Town describes how Portugal has been coping

Once the natural incredulity at “the best coach in the world” being removed from office had passed, the Portuguese press and public shifted promptly to what really mattered: the dosh involved. Mourinho gets €24 million trumpeted sports daily A Bola. €26 million to keep quiet reckoned O Jogo. Filthy rich blared Record, trumping its rivals with €30m (£21m). Weekly magazine Sábado thought it had the right figure: “€25 million… less tax”. “Mourinho has shown that he’s number one on and off the field… even at getting ­compensation,” jested Benfica coach José António Camacho. Sábado had a graphic showing the rise and rise of Mourinho’s income over the years, starting in 1978 with the 500 escudos (€2.5) he would earn from writing reports on opponents for his dad, a goalkeeper with Vitória de Setúbal, and ending with the €7.5m a year he was being paid by Chelsea.

Roman Abramovich and Avram Grant go back a long way, says Shaul Adar

José Mourinho would not have expected the Israel v Ireland World Cup qualifier of March 2005 to have a significant impact on his future. But that was the weekend when Israel’s coach, Avram Grant, was first offered a job by his FA’s guest of honour, Roman Abramovich. Israel had just achieved respectable 1-1 home draws with France and Ireland and an impressed Abramovich told Grant that he would buy whichever Israeli club the coach wanted to take charge of. Grant just smiled, apparently not believing that the Russian was making a serious offer.

Jonathan Wilson examines how Guus Hiddink, a potential Blues boss, is faring with Russia

A surge of popular excitement, a couple of iffy results followed by a couple of good performances, and the Russian attitude to Guus Hiddink is still largely positive. Were he to leave for Chelsea, there would be disappointment and anger, but the Russian sports pages haven’t exactly been buzzing with warnings of his imminent departure. Partly because there is no Russian Mark Palios ready to build a wall of cash to keep his manager in situ, but also because no one thinks a move to Chelsea is that probable.

Mike Newell’s outburst against a female assistant referee attracted more publicity, but Neil Rose and other Luton supporters were more interested by what the manager said about the club’s chairman

While Luton fans may be ambivalent about joining a campaign to ban female officials from men’s football, they would as one take to the streets for a campaign to ban Andy D’Urso.

Sign up to the WSC Weekly Howl - a small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday