Whether results are good or bad, we fixate on the idea that managers are accountable for what happens on the pitch. But how much can they really change after the whistle blows?
This weekend, in keeping with most others, a much-scrutinised if seldom enlightening ritual will have been enacted once more: the post-match managerial interview. It’s a strange phenomenon, if you think about it, but coverage of a football match without quizzing the manager at the end would now seem as unnatural as the police not questioning the prime suspect in a crime.
It has become an integral part of the mechanism that bestows upon managers a position somewhere between a god and a fool, depending on the result. But once a game has started, what can a manager actually do? Scream from the sidelines at players who are too busy playing to take any notice. Give a half-time team talk that takes one of two forms: keep doing what you’re doing or pull yourselves together. And make up to three substitutions – almost always after 60 minutes of play.
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