English clubs · English league · Football managers

Stepping Up From No. 2

So Chris Hutchings has been sacked by Wigan Athletic. Appointed Paul Jewell’s assistant in 2001, he stepped up to the manager’s post when Jewell resigned in at the end of last season. 12 games into the current season, and he’s gone. Hardly enough time for him to make his mark.

Sammy Lee stepped up from number 2 at Bolton Wanderers when Sam Allardyce moved to Newcastle United in the close season. He lasted just 9 league games in charge.

At least Wigan aren’t bottom. And it’s not as if Wigan are doing much worse season than they did last season. If a club is going to move an assistant up to take over from a manager who has left, the new manager should at least be allowed a reasonable amount of time to make his mark.

Hutchings wouldn’t have been many people’s first choice to replace Jewell, but having made the decision to appoint him, the club should have been allowed him at least another month. Wigan’s form hasn’t been too bad, and injuries have been compounded by bad luck. Injuries and fortune usually even out over the course of a season.

Moving an assistant manager up is always a risk – the skill-set and responsibilities of an assistant are different from that of a manager of a Premier League club. Further, an assistant wouldn’t usually have a track record in management to fall back on, in order to persuade the club to give him more time to get things right. If a club isn’t prepared for the risks involved, and to allow the man a reasonable amount of time to get things right, it shouldn’t appoint an assistant manager to take over as manager.

Having done so, getting cold feet so early in the season is nothing more than an indication of poor decision making processes within the club – and for that reason alone, the club concerned deserves to go down.

(This article was first published on BBC 606)


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