Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Risking 'good' for 'great'

It was nearly a year ago when Newcastle United sacked Chris Hughton as manager. Seemed a crazy decision. This was a man who had gotten Newcastle promoted from the Championship and had started the Premier League season in pretty good form. When he was sacked in December, Newcastle were 11th in the table, probably safe from worries of relegation and playing some good football. Not bad for a team just promoted, and all the signs were positive.

Chris Hughton: Not Happy

So why sack him? Managers generally only get sacked when they have messed up, when the team is not performing, when they fall out with the ownership of the club or when there is an obvious problem in the team. In this case none of those reasons applied.

Everyone said it was crazy, but I applauded the decision. Even though nothing was 'wrong' with the manager, the owners decided that he was not the right person to take them to where they wanted to go. And so, in a time of strength and stability, they took a risk and replaced him. This took balls of steel, a killer instinct and a conviction in your own beliefs. Got to love it.

Ultimately it could have been a huge success or it could have been a disaster. So far, it seems to be going well. Since replacing Hughton as manager, Alan Pardew has overseen a hugely successful start to this season's Premiership, which sees Newcastle unbeaten so far and currently sitting in third position in the league. I doubt their run of form will last the whole season, and most likely they will be doing well if they finish in the top 8 or so, but with limited resources Pardew has gotten the team playing some great football.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley: Happy
I think this is a great lesson for all of us. Why wait for things to blow up and fall to pieces before making a change? Why not try to improve from a position of strength not weakness? And why not risk it all by throwing away 'good' and aiming for 'great'.