Breaking up is hard to do (right)

Sacking managers is fun. Daniel Levy does it all the time – it’s about the only thing that makes him smile.

Sacking a manager is like removing a Band-Aid (“plaster” for those of you from the British Isles) from a hairy part of your body – bite your lip and do it quick.

Paul Simon once sang that there must be “50 ways to leave your lover”. Rather unhelpfully he proceeded to list only four ways and one of those was to “make a new plan”. A bit vague and unreliable, but then again, it was the 70s and people were doing a lot of drugs. Not like today.

We’ve yet to see a manager sacked via Twitter or Snapchat, but that day will surely come.

Let’s reminisce about some of the less well-executed managerial sackings in recent years . . . and we’ll consider their high school equivalents.

Reading about it in the newspaper (Mike Mulvey, Bobby Robson)

As The Rock (as he was then known) once said about groupies: You may not be the first, but you could be the next.

We think he was talking about meaningless sex.

Anyway, what does meaningless sex have to do with Mike Mulvey or Sir Bobby Robson? I can’t remember. Perhaps the point was that Mike wasn’t the first manager to learn of his demise through the press, and he won’t be the last. Yes, that sounds right.

On the weekend the Brisbane Roar board decided it needed a laugh, and what better what to get a laugh than to not only sack the title-winning manager (Mike Mulvey) but make an almighty cock-up of it.

Leak to the press before the manager or players know of the decision? Tick! Farcical press release later that day claiming that the manager decided to step down? Tick! Repeated mention of “philosophy” when trying to justify sacking? Tick!

Here's a photo of... oh work it out yourself. My girlfriend's just left me and I have to write some bad poetry.

Here’s a photo of… oh work it out yourself. My girlfriend’s just left me and I have to write some bad poetry.

High school equivalent: Your girlfriend is editor of the school newspaper. You lust for her – she is gorgeous in a nerdy sort of way, and she brings all your Julia Sawalha fantasies to life. She ditches you via headline and hooks up with an exchange student who smokes roll-your-own cigarettes.

Being told by your nephew (Martin Jol)

Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Martin Jol was the king of sideline skirmishes. Just imagine if he and Kevin Muscat ever squared up beyond their technical areas. Scary.

Daniel Levy was afraid of Martin Jol. The evidence is clear: instead of fronting the big man face-to-face and telling him it’s over, the news was leaked to the press before Tottenham’s home match against Getafe. The crowd told Jol, and then after the match Jol’s nephew (bear with us) spoke to Jol in the player tunnel (no idea why he was there) and told him the news.

Juande Ramos was installed as manager, and that ended well too.

High school equivalent: Your girlfriend is popular. So popular, that she ranks her friends and they accept their place in the pecking order without question. Your girlfriend is also bald and has loads of money. One day, you hear your girlfriend’s circle of demons friends singing about you being dumped. Then one of her second-tier friends tells you that your girlfriend’s now going out with Greg from the year above you. That’s right, Greg. The kid who rides a motorbike to school and has supposedly had it off with the weather girl from the local TV station.

Being told on television (Gus Poyet)

At least Martin Jol was let down gently by a family member. Gus Poyet was working on live TV when he received news that he had been sacked as manager of Brighton. BBC staff were kind enough to slip him a note while he was off-air telling him the bad news.

High school equivalent: It the end-of-year presentation night. You’re due to perform a song with your band (The Zit Remedy) – a song penned by you. Your parents are in the audience. You’re nervous. But at least you can depend on your girlfriend. Sure, you’ve had some rocky times – like when you found her tonguing Sam from the basketball team – but you’re sure that after she hears your song she’ll forget about Sam. And the other boys. Little do you know that your girlfriend has left a note on everyone’s chair in the auditorium, telling the world that you can’t kiss – certainly not as well as Sam – and that she’s sick of seeing you in the same Slayer t-shirt every day. You find out moments before you go on stage.

Ceefax/Teletext (Bruce Rioch)

Bruce Rioch’s famous Ceefax (teletext) sacking. It’s worth re-telling, for no other reason that these days Young People Have No Idea What Teletext Was. Or rather, is, since it still exists in some countries. Such as Italy.

Teletext is like the internet but with less dirty pictures. Breaking news, sports results, weather forecasts and other sundry information would be broadcast in a special text format.

You’d press a button on your television (or remote control if you had one of those fancy sets) and up would pop teletext.

Bruce Rioch was watching telly at home in 1997 (catching up on the Louise Woodward case, he said later – she was the nanny convicted for the shaking death of a baby in her care) and he switched over to Ceefax to discover that QPR had given him the elbow.

Playground equivalent: Your previous (hot) girlfriend ditched you, despite the fact that you bought her a sweet scooter, that she still rides to school. Just flaunting it. Makes you sick. And she’s so happy with her new boyfriend. In your darker moments you admit that he’s better than you in all respects, even if he is French. Or Belgian. You can’t really tell. Anyway, your current girlfriend is more in your league. Then one day, when you’re browsing the common room notice board looking for the latest on the staff vs students hockey match, you see a notice saying that your girlfriend has left you and has taken up with Jason from the badminton club.

Text message (Paul Ince)

Paul Ince got sacked as manager of Blackpool by text message. No word on whether emoticons were involved.

Playground equivalent: Er, text message? Ah, that’s a bit out-of-step with the retro vibe we’re working on here. Um, this is the playground equivalent of…the passed note. If we never received one, we all saw one. “You’re dumped.” Some say it’s more dignified to dump someone face-to-face, but if the end result is the same, who cares? Get rid of dead wood and move on. The dumpee is emotionally scarred? Big deal. Build a bridge and get over it.

Is there a right way?

Thinking of dumping a boyfriend/girlfriend/manager/telco? There’s no right way. Just remember that you’re dealing with a human being. Unless you’re dating a robot version of Lucy Liu.