It’s one of football’s biggest mysteries (along with how Peter Crouch ended up marrying Abbey Clancy): how do managers who consistently underperform continue to get job after job after job?
It’s a question that no doubt Everton boss Marco Silva is currently considering as he edges closer to the door on Merseyside. If Everton pull the trigger on the Portuguese then that will mean his last three jobs will have all had underwhelming conclusions.
He managed to improve the form of Hull City in his first Premier League gig, but failed to save them from relegation. With Watford, an impressive start soon fell away until the board were forced to sack their manager, and his tenure at Everton has failed to deliver the results that Toffees expected after a summer of huge spending.
Many are suggesting that no chairman in the Premier League would go near Silva with a half and half scarf (never mind a transfer warchest) given his recent record. In any other career that would normally be the case but this is football and those people all underestimate the lure of the “Teflon Manager”.
The Teflon Manager is a mysterious football creation. A gaffer that can not be tainted by terrible transfers, rubbish results or frightful form.
After each job, they come out clean as a whistle and smelling of roses meaning that someone, somewhere will glance at their CV, spot a few big names they recognise and take a chance.
Here we honour the best of the best when it comes to the ‘Teflon Don’.
There was a time when David Moyes was one of the hottest properties in the Premier League. His impressive tenure at Everton led him to being personally selected by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United where he was handed a six-year contract and the moniker “The Chosen One”.
Yet the 15 years he had spent building his managerial reputation was almost undone in under 12 months in Manchester.
The signs were there from the very start. Moyes’ tenure began with a defeat to Singha All-Stars in Bangkok and continued as Moyes became the first United boss to suffer back to back home defeats since the 2001/02 season (something that now doesn’t seem such a horrendous crime). Finally, Ed Woodward listened to the baying United crowd and handed Moyes the inauspicious honour of being the shortest-serving manager in 82 years at Old Trafford as he “Gave it Giggsy till the end of the season”.
Since his disastrous spell at United, DM has been handed the reigns at Real Sociedad (Sacked), Sunderland (Relegated) and West Ham (where he prevented relegation but did not have his short-term contract renewed) all before his original Manchester United contract was due to expire.
None of this appears to have damaged Moyes’ reputation in any way and he is still very much considered a “safe pair of hands”. As with many Teflon managers, their appeal appears to be that you know what you are getting with Moyes and so his name always pops up in connection with any club teetering on the edge of the relegation zone.
His is a man who will “steady the ship” and “add discipline to the team”. Qualities that both appeals to the chairman and have foreboding undertones to fans in equal measures. He is not a progressive manager. He is a safe bet… without actually being a safe bet.
It is with some inevitability that Moyes is being linked with the Everton job. Not only because it was the club with which he experienced his most success but because of his tendency to build hard-working, difficult to break-down and organised teams could be exactly what the Merseyside club needs right now.
“Big Sam” Allardyce
Big Sam Allardyce was not always the footballing dinosaur he now seems. When a Bolton he was at the forefront of sports science and footballing technology but years of direct football and buying Kevin Nolan has left him with a reputation of a manager only able to do one thing… and it’s not pretty.
From purely a results viewpoint it would be hard to call any of Allardyce’s appointments disastrous.
Tenures at Newcastle, Blackburn, Sunderland, Everton and Crystal Palace would have all been deemed acceptable by anyone who didn’t actually have to watch the football being played on the pitch.
It will be his time as England manager that will no doubt define his career, however. This was the job that Big Sam always wanted, the job that he had repeatedly told anyone that would listen that he deserved and a job that he made a mess of spectacularly. Like with his other jobs it wasn’t the results on the pitch that were the issue (in fact with his record of one game and one win he has the best win percentage of any England boss) but events off the pitch that resulted on him moving on.
An undercover investigation from The Telegraph caught Big Sam allegedly negotiating £400k fee with an overseas firm to offer advice on how to circumnavigate Premier League 3rd party ownership rules. Sam Allardyce disputed the allegations but rather than be sacked by the FA he left the role by mutual consent after 67 days. It seems it is not just poor performance that fails to stick to the Teflon manager.
Like many Teflon managers, Allardyce’s biggest strength is his ability to act as his own hype man. No one has more faith in Big Sam than Big Sam. He regularly blames his English heritage for the reason he’s never been handed a “big job”, he claimed only Harry Houdini could have done better than him as West Ham boss and he once claimed that only Arsene Wenger was on his level when it came to “Sophisticated coaching”. If you make this kind of claims often enough then someone, somewhere is going to buy into the hype.
Big Sam may well have reached the end of the managerial road, however. He has said himself that, after turning down the chance to replace Rafa Benitez at Newcastle, he may have taken his last top-flight job. Something that will be music to the ears of many a mid-table club supporter up and down the land.
Alan Pardew is the double threat. Not only does he possess the almost magical qualities of a Teflon manager but he is also a “Proper Football Man”.
The Proper Football Man (PFM) enjoys a privileged position within some portions of the football media.
The ex-pro’s on Sky Sports love a PFM because they know what they are going to get… a hardworking, no-nonsense talking, 4-4-2 playing manager who doesn’t do anything to shock or surprise you. Not like that unpredictable foreign lot. This ‘Little England love-in’ means they have an almost constant managerial PR machine in their armoury.
Combining the media backing of a Proper Football Man with the non-stick powers of the Teflon Don has proved a potent mix.
Like many of the non-stick managerial contingent, Pardew’s managerial mediocrity has found itself the perfect match for the type of midtable team in which Teflon Managers ply their trade. Crystal Palace, Newcastle, West Ham and West Brom have all benefited from his leadership.
As with his peers, his tenures have often fallen just short of actually being sacked for abysmal results.
That is not to say that Pardew hasn’t had his fair share of poor form (West Hams worst run in 70 years which included an FA Cup defeat to Chesterfield and a UEFA Cup ext to Palermo sticks in the mind) but he has often timed his exit to perfection leaving due to player/chairman/club fall outs rather than an inability to do his job. A skill that has no doubt helped to protect his reputation.
It is no surprise that Pardew’s name has been linked with the vacant manager’s job at Watford since the departure of Quique Sanchez Flores… another club for Pardew to tick off his mid-table checklist.
The Special One is a unique breed when it comes to Teflon Managers; He’s won stuff. A lot of stuff.
Whereas most “Teflon Dons” ply their trade between the positions of 6th and 17th in the Premier League, Jose is more at home with the European elite. Something that is at least in part down to his skill of making sure that not a single ounce of blame blemishes his tailored Italian suit.
We all know about the three-season cycle of Mourinho.
Once appointed, Jose will play out the same old theatrical three-act performance, again and again, taking the club from trophy-winning success to self-imploding chaos in 36 month whirlwind of spikey press conferences and arguments.
You cant call Jose a bad manager. His record as one of the most successful managers of the modern era is a testament to that.
However, for Jose to keep on getting the big jobs he craves, the misfortune of clubs on and off the pitch must be never accredited to him.
His efforts to ensure none of the blame falls at his door usually begins within a few months in the job. Doctors, players, chairman, the newspapers, “football genius” and the clubs fans have all had the fickle finger of responsibility pointed in their direction. But, it is once he leaves a club that Jose shows his skills.
Even as he walks away from the smouldering ruins of the once-great football club he is departing he makes busy changing the narrative of blame.
He exaggerates his success and plays down his failings. Claiming that no one else could achieve what he could achieve and, because of his charisma and personality (like a footballing Donald Trump) his fake news is re-broadcast by TV channels and reported by newspapers across the footballing globe. Erasing any memory of what came before and convincing everyone that the last disaster was just a “one-off”.
He has most recently worked his magic at Tottenham with Daniel Levy falling under the spell of his magical self-publicist charms. It may work, it may not but one this is certain… it will never, ever be Jose’s fault.
Long live the Teflon Manager. They will never die. They’ll just move onto the next job.