Guest post by Paul Micelli
While new managers will usually be aware of the honeymoon period and a few short weeks of grace, they will also be looking to avoid the possibility of finding themselves standing on the metaphorical trapdoor. The trapdoor refers to a level of minimum points that a manager must attain during a section of the season and any individual who fails to maintain that level will slowly but surely feel the noose tightening around their necks. As frustrations rise, team morale falls in equal measures and dissention becomes apparent. In extreme cases, player pressure can see managers sacked within hours as transfer requests begin to pile up on a soon-to-be-cleared desk.
In many cases, it is incredibly common to see a side win their next game after the appointment of a new manager. The delicate nature of dressing room politics and the desire to prove oneself will often see teams finding that extra touch of class, effort and commitment that separates a winning side from a losing one. There have been a vast number of recent examples where a change of management has led to an immediate upturn in fortunes even though the playing staff within a club has remained unchanged.
The example of Tottenham Hotspur in recent times serves to highlight the impact that a change of management can bring. Under the guidance of Martin Jol and Juande Ramos, performance levels indicated a certain level of underachievement even though results were reasonably consistent. Both Jol and Ramos eventually found themselves standing over the dreaded trapdoor and as results began to deteriorate, they soon found themselves alienated by their bosses, disregarded by their players and heckled by the fans.
Under the guidance of Harry Redknapp, the fortunes of Tottenham Hotspur have taken a significant turn in the right direction. Under Juande Ramos, the North London club found themselves on one of their worst-ever runs in top flight football and were in deep relegation trouble when the charismatic Spaniard was eventually relieved of his duties. Redknapp duly entered the fray and with the same squad of players, Tottenham enjoyed a rapid surge in form that saw them reach mid-table safety within a matter of weeks. Last season, the continuation of good form has seen Tottenham qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time.
Redknapp is a true motivator in the traditional sense. Although English managers of this type are becoming an increasing rarity in the Premier League, the Tottenham manager is able to fuse discipline, character and confidence and these qualities have instilled a level of confidence that hasn’t been seen at White Hart Lane since the glory, glory years of the 1960’s.
Statistics indicate that the trapdoor figure for Martin Jol and Juande Ramos was established during a period of around eighteen games. Surprisingly, both managers actually enjoyed a similar honeymoon period that saw their respective sides peak between their seventh and twelfth games in charge. In the case of Tottenham Hotspur, it would seem that the concept of honeymoons and trapdoors are very much in evidence.