The Managerial Merry-Go-Round

"Good evening everybody..."
David Pleat

One of the most exciting spectacles of modern football is undoubtedly the Managerial Merry-Go-Round (the MMGR). A constantly rotating showcase of the game's most talented and enduring bosses, the MMGR serves the game (and, indeed, the media) with a reliable gauge of the available and unemployed, who proclaim themselves as "itching to get back into the game".
As it stands, the current set of hopefuls riding the MMGR are as follows*:

  • David O'Leary: Destined for frequent visits to the MMGR, thanks to a near-apocalyptic end to his Leeds reign and an underwhelming stint at the talent black hole that is Villa Park, O'Leary has wrested control of the biggest and most spectacular seat on the MMGR.
  • Peter Reid: Although perhaps becoming rather bored of the MMGR, Reid remains a prominent figure. There are signs that he is pursuing alternative thrills, including getting paid for watching football on television (on television) - a role which he manages to fulfil with a cringeworthy amount of self-deprecation that only former midfield hardmen are seemingly allowed to display as pundits.
  • Les Reed: Graduating from the perhaps rather less thrilling Technical Director Merry-Go-Round (Howard Wilkinson now enjoys exclusive use, by the way), Reed cut a, quite frankly, pathetic figure at Charlton Athletic in his 41 days in charge (The over-precise unit of days is reserved for short managerial stints and measuring the age of extremely young debutant players). Although his record in that time was unequivocally appalling, Reed claims a place on the MMGR purely on the basis of having “managed” in the Premiership. He will, in the future, have to make do with a position in the Championship. Where he will, in all probability, fail again.
  • George Graham: The MMGR’s equivalent of the drunk bloke in the corner of the pub, Graham (if it can be proven that he is, in fact, job-hunting) surely deserves to have the MMGR named after him. Having enjoyed its thrills, on-and-off, since around 1995, Graham has been bogged down by his reputation for bung-taking and defensively-watertight tactics. He has taken Reid’s media side-project to another level, securing a permanent position on Premiership Plus pay-per-view broadcasts. Every Sunday afternoon, he and Marcus Buckland half-heartedly cover a mediocre-looking clash of the midtable middleweights while simultaneously looking like a couple on their first date in Wetherspoons who haven’t been able to find some seats. An MMGR legend, who, if not riding it, is certainly the bloke in the Perspex box operating it
  • Glenn Roeder: A rare sight, being actually employed, but a seat is reserved nonetheless for the Chinless Wonder. Short-terms signs that he is turning around the unturnaroundable Newcastle United are a fallacy, and Roeder will be returning to the MMGR before too long. A contender to step into George Graham’s well-worn shoes, perhaps
  • Micky Adams: Operating one level below the top flight (sorry, that means The Championship) Adams has enjoyed reassuringly unproductive spells at Brighton, Leicester and, until very recently, Coventry. Still a novice, Adams made the schoolboy error of going out fighting at the Ricoh Arena. A true MMGR regular accepts his inevitable fate (and the handsome pay-off) and retakes his seat on the ride
  • Claudio Ranieri: Proving that the MMGR is not merely a British domestic affair, Ranieri enjoys the most linkage of any of its riders. Linked with a position almost on a weekly basis, Ranieri’s eventual command of the English language means he is a viable candidate for positions across Europe. But doesn’t he look happy?
  • Walter Smith: Another exceptional case. Unless he finally retires, Smith will yo-yo between the Rangers and Scotland roles for eternity, while of course being strongly linked with whichever of the two jobs he isn’t in.
  • Tony Pulis: Drafted in only when the MMGR is at its most fallow, Pulis is, for all intents and purposes, a poor man’s Micky Adams. Doing OK at Stoke City though, thank you very much.
  • Joe Royle: No longer participating, but perhaps looking on misty-eyed from afar, Royle’s MMGR days are over, and he must now make do with flirting with John Helm on Five’s hilarious and brilliant coverage of no-mark away-leg European ties.
  • Kevin Keegan: Missing in (in)action.
  • Kenny Dalglish: Happy and content with having pioneered the act of “moving upstairs”, Dalglish now lets his super-successful offspring carry on the family name.
  • Jean Tigana: Single-handedly supporting the toothpick industry seems to take up most of his time. Only an occasional holiday-visit rider of the MMGR.
  • Dr Jozef Venglos: A curious figure, who retains interest in a position on the MMGR because he is intelligent enough to realise that, one day, a desperate chairman will be drawn in by his PhD, which I believe he bought through mail-order in the 1970s.


*This is not an exhaustive list, but the main protagonists have been accounted for. The MMGR is a dynamic environment, and the list is subject to change, ie. trigger-happy club “supremos”.

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