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Saints Fundamental Problem
at 12:44 31 Dec 2017

The fundamental problem that we have had since the end of our first season back in the premiereship is not the unceasing sale and purchase of players, not defensive tactics, not injuries, not loss of form, not even demotivated players, nor even idiosyncratic selections, nor low morale. Although sadly and/or frustratingly all of these have been apparent in the last couple of seasons.
No…it has been our total inability to attract and retain high quality managers.
And why is this… because we continuously demonstrate both our lack of ambition and mystifying reluctance to pay managers of proven quality enough to attract and then retain them. This is a toxic combination and one that we can only change when we recognise that high quality managers (those with proven track records, obvious leadership talents, tactical sophistication and authority) should be our primary objective. Talented players are always important, but our priority should be to recruit excellent managers and we can only successfully do that by displaying our real ambition and our determination not to always sell core elements of the team and thereby undermining any manager’s ability to develop a team that can compete.
Not doing so relegates us to bringing in promising but sometimes insufficiently experienced players and a lack of continuity, ”senior” managers interpret this as making their jobs more hazardous and are reluctant to join or stay. Then we end up recruiting managers who, because they have had limited but not consistent success, perhaps not experienced in the English leagues but, arguably, with potential. These are riskier appointments, but are less expensive and that no doubt in Reed’s mind, endorsed or required by Krueger et al, makes the ‘gamble’ worthwhile.
MP1 was an example of a successful gamble and MP2 looks to be an example of the other end of the spectrum.
My last point is that the process relationship between the roles of Dir. of Football (Reed) and the Head Coach/Manager seems to fluctuate according to the relative power of each incumbent; so for instance currently Reed seems to have overall control over the recruitment or otherwise of players and MP2 appears to have little say. This seems apparent in the way that MP2 seems to be reluctant to select and even endorse the arrival of new players that Reed has decided upon. During Koeman’s tenure the balance seemed very different, RK appeared to introduce players that we were not ‘watching’ eg Pelle and Tadic, urged the purchase of Mane and Clasie and I suspect may have vetoed others who we never saw. This was because RK was a far more experienced and by and large more sophisticated tactician and respected manager than MP2. And he probably would not have joined up if he had not had at least this measure of say in these crucial decisions. Puel was probably somewhere in the middle of this continuum
The point is that it is unhealthy for Reed to be able to ‘select’ the shortlisted managers when he has a personal and vested interest in recruiting less substantial talents to fill a more constrained head coach role. Let me just say that I do think , despite these reservations that Reed has been mainly very successful in recent years in terms of the players recruited including for instance Hoedt, Lemina and especially Boufal (though I think Puel played a large part in bringing the latter here).
So before we spend a large chunk of the VVD money on desperately needed new blood, for me in the forwards and midfield, much more than the defence, we should think very carefully about the risks of continuing with MP2, the sort of leading coach/manager we want and the sort of formation which will be the optimum for our desired outcomes.
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