Players these days are scouted and assessed in almost every possible way a sportsperson can be. Younger players and free agents are given trials to see what they can contribute not only on the pitch, but also off it, before a decision is made to offer a longer contract.
We all know so much about the people towards the top of the game’s pyramid that trial periods are not as necessary, but further down they play a much more important part. If players have to prove themselves at a new club with new team mates, possibly in a new area of the country or the world, why are managers not under the same circumstances.
Some may argue that we can see what a manager is like from his record at his current or previous club. The same could be said of players, but that doesn’t always work out as we all know.
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With the job of manager holding such importance and the future of the club tentatively placed in his hands, the finances involved in the modern game, surely a probationary period whereby a manager can get to know the players, the club, the area etc, would make sense.
We have all seen the difference a new manager can have on a team, sometimes it has a great effect and sometimes it just doesn’t work, regardless of records, history or even the previous season. Rafa Benitez at Inter Milan and Brian Clough at Leeds being two of the more famous failed short tenures.
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It takes a strong personality to come in and completely change things to their own way regardless of what went before and for it then to be successful. Players will not always take to new tactics, coaches, egos, routines etc.
Also, in most areas of work, an initial employment contract can include a period of up to six months whereby if things are not working out for both parties then all ties can be cut relatively hassle free. Football clubs routinely hand out five year contracts more for financial reasons, a high transfer fee or compensation if being sold or pinched, than any lingering loyalty to players or managers.
There are drawbacks of course, you could end up with months or possibly years of little continuity and bad results. It would be extremely difficult to have any kind of long term transfer strategy, players could fall in and out of favour under different regimes leading to more transfers going out of the club than potentially coming in.
But for a smaller club, with an ambitious chairman, a good fan base, a decent squad but a lack of funds, perhaps having the option to move quickly to a different applicant on these notorious managerial shortlists, should things not start well, could prove more successful in the long term.