The loss at Brentford was tough to take. In truth, it was the toughest to take of the season so far for me, given that it was against Brentford and that the substitutions and tactics seemed bizarre at best. The current frustration from Fulham fans is obvious with so many people taking to Twitter and Facebook to give an apparently overwhelming opinion of ‘Slav out’. However, I’m going to go against the status quo and try and explain with three points why I think that our Serbian head coach should be given more time at the helm.
- Instant success is rare; we should be thinking about the long term-
Would it surprise you if I told you that Slavisa Jokanovic is currently the 6th longest serving manager in the Championship? In fact, if you look at the top 4 leagues in England, Jokanovic actually ranks as the 25th longest serving manager out of the 92 professional clubs. It still seems to me as though he is relatively new at the club even though we are coming up to his two-year anniversary with him on the 27th December in just a few weeks’ time. In this day and age, the job of a football manager could be described as ‘high risk’ given that the average length of time of a person in that position seems to lower year on year. Being in a job that is results based is hard, but when those results are put on display for millions to see and scrutinise, even when many of those people aren’t particularly qualified to scrutinise, it must be soul destroying at times. The culture of quick fire managerial sackings has caused football to become an industry where it is nearly impossible to succeed in because the expectations of so many are unrealistic. It means that managers aren’t given anywhere near enough time to get things right which, in turn, means that a bad 6 game run can see someone sacked. It’s outrageous.
If we sack Jokanovic now we are just giving in to that ruthless culture. Despite him being the 6th longest standing in the Championship at the minute, 2 years is still a very short time. There is no doubt that the current situation at Fulham is difficult, but getting rid of the boss won’t bring any long term success. It might lighten the mood temporarily, but what happens when the next manager goes through his bad spell? Do we just sack him too and continue the cycle? Managers can come out of bad spells but they need to be given time and support.
- Sacking midseason, unless completely necessary, is a mistake-
I have a real issue with sacking someone when they are in the middle of a season. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is the only answer. With the likes Kit Symons and Felix Magath there was no alternative- change it up or see the club get relegated again. But, generally speaking, when someone is sacked midseason, it just adds pressure to the successor to get instant results as well as widening the chance that the board at the club in appoint the wrong person because they rush into a decision. If Jokanovic was to be sacked now, then who would we appoint? I can’t help but feel that we would end up with someone else who would only get himself sacked after a similar stint in charge. If we do end up sacking Jokanovic, I would rather it was at the end of the season when he has had two full seasons in charge. If things haven’t changed by then, fair enough, but at least then we will have given him time. This way the board can focus on finding a suitable replacement with a bit of time rather than rushing into a bad decision midseason.
- Kline is gone; it’s time to give Slav a go in the transfer window
The whole Craig Kline debacle was very well publicised in October with all sorts of strange goings on at Motspur Park. That alongside a number of angry outbursts from Jokanovic last summer about his lack of control in the transfer market has led to a lot of uncomfortable reports about unhappy staff and players at the club. I believe that the majority of this was down to Craig Kline’s involvement in the clubs transfer policy and the acquisition of players who were clearly not even slightly on Jokanovic’s radar. While his stubborn nature will have to ease if he is to get through this, I can appreciate that his job certainly wasn’t made very easy by the over-controlling American statistician. But with the club now free of Kline’s influence, now Jokanovic has a chance to work with a great deal less stress in the transfer business. Surely it is only fair to give him a window to have more of a say?
Overall I think that now is not the right time to change things up at Fulham regarding the manager. He is stubborn, yes, and this will have to change, but not that long ago many fans were practically praying for Slav to stay! Opinion’s in football change so quickly on the basis of the most recent results, but if we change our manager every time we have a bad spell then we will get nowhere. My answer is simple; give him to the end of the season, allow him to control the transfer window within reason and then reassess come May. Sacking now would get us nowhere, especially in the long term.