Championship sack race a marathon not a sprint

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An out-of-pocket Mike Holden is dying for someone, anyone, to be given the heave-ho...  

It’s nearly November, we’re a dozen games into the Championship season and still nobody has been sacked. What the hell is going on?

This isn’t what I had in mind when I started throwing a few hundred quid around on a handful of sack-race contenders at the start of the campaign. If I had any inkling I’d be waiting more than a couple of weeks, I wouldn’t have bothered.

The problem is, the longer this climate of managerial stability continues alongside the current economic climate of instability, the more I feel guilty.

Now I have become what Chinese gamblers refer to as a ‘gravedigger’ - somebody who tries to make a profit out of others’ misfortune.

I don’t want to be willing people out of work but the simple truth is I am.


FFT's Mike Holden can't wait much longer...

I thought it would be all over within a couple of weeks. Five straight defeats somewhere. Manager gets the bullet. I collect my winnings, and walk out of the bookies like it was any other race involving 24 runners.

But now it’s getting far too personal.

I find myself taking glee out of reports of fans getting restless, teams being booed off the field, rumours surfacing in the local press of dressing room unrest and gaffers starting to behave irrationally, blowing their top with referees because they are starting to feel the pressure.

Oh yes, you might well pour scorn, up there on your moral high ground, but I bet you still want to know who I’ve backed, don’t you?

Well, seeing as you ask so nicely, there’s any one of three managers I want out, which kind of makes me feel a little better, because in that respect it’s not personal, if you see where I’m coming from.

My first investment was Alan Pardew at 10/1. Not because I think Pardew is a bad manager – quite the opposite, I think he’s brilliant – but because there’s a really negative atmosphere around the Valley at the moment.

"I ain't going nowhere Holden..."

Unfortunately, it seems Charlton fans have picked up that common personality disorder known as acute impatience.

They have been spoilt by a decade of overachievement, so now they’re no longer prepared to play the long game and wait for Pardew to get it right, conveniently forgetting they were garbage for six years until Alan Curbishley suddenly struck upon the right formula one day in 1997.

Meanwhile, another manager who has become a target for the boo boys is Aidy Boothroyd at Watford, who I have also backed for the first eviction at 12/1.

To be honest, I don’t think Watford would dare sack Boothroyd because they suspect, quite rightly, that he is far better at working on a shoestring budget than any other manager they could attract from outside the club.

"£5?! Who am I supposed to bring in with that!?" 

However, recent reports would indicate that Boothroyd himself is getting restless at Vicarage Road, with comments from chairman Graham Simpson leading us to believe he was jumping into bed with Elton John (metaphorically speaking, of course) in order to get the message out that he’s not happy with his lot.

However, if the Watford board have complete faith in Boothroyd’s managerial ability, that’s not necessarily the case with my third and final runner, Kevin Blackwell at Sheffield United. Although I must admit this bet was always going to be a long shot at 33/1.

That said, things might get interesting if Sunday’s defeat in the Steel City derby leads to a poor run of results, because the Bramall Lane board hardly went out on a limb to let the world know he was their undisputed number-one choice for the job midway through last season.

"Did you say 33/1? Hmm..." 

Blackwell was given the job on a temporary trial basis during which he excelled, albeit at a time when it was difficult not to, coming in to clean up the mess left behind by the woeful Bryan Robson.

So like one of those ‘dead celebrity sweepstakes’ that have become all the rage nowadays, that’s my portfolio of shame.

Now will someone get a move on and pull the bloody trigger!

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