Guest Knightrider Posted May 11, 2007 Share Posted May 11, 2007 The Rise & Fall Of Glenn Roeder By Bob Yule On Fri 11 May 2007 So the short reign of Glenn Roeder is over – a man who, for all his sincere efforts, never seemed to be fully established in the role. What can we make of his year in charge, and in particular, his sudden fall from favour? Well, here’s my view. When Roeder was given the caretaker job, with Shearer as his deputy (albeit with a very indeterminate role), I thought we were headed for disaster. Roeder’s record as a manager was blemished, he didn’t come across as the kind of strong leader that was needed, and he had the Chairman’s blue eyed boy and manager in waiting, hovering just behind him. I thought that he would complete the job that Souness had started, of taking us down into the Championship. Of course it turned out very different over the following weeks, and in some ways this initial success is more difficult to explain than the subsequent failure. It could be that the team were simply given the lift that a new face can inspire. We must also bear in mind that Roeder has a good reputation as a coach, even if his ability to handle the different demands of management is questionable. But I think there was also a third reason, which had more significance in the long-term. I think, at this point, the players liked and respected Roeder. His initial approach seemed to be suitably modest and workmanlike. He didn’t attempt to make sweeping changes, but concentrated on restoring morale and making the existing system work. He relished the role that chance had given to him, but did so with due humility. He motivated the players not by kicking backsides but by encouragement. The players relaxed and performances improved dramatically after the tensions of Souness’s final months. What’s more, I think this goodwill between manager and players lasted well into this season. Despite all the problems with injuries and some poor results, I always had the impression that the players still had confidence in Roeder and were playing for him. The spirit in the camp seemed good. One night in Holland changed that. In the eight games leading up to the Alkmaar game, we had won 5, drawn 1 and lost 2. In the eight subsequent games, we won 1, drew 2 and lost 5, failing to score in six of the eight. The opposition in these games included such giants as Charlton, Reading, and Man City. It was as dramatic a turning point as you could imagine. At Alkmaar, Roeder had been tactically outsmarted by Van Gaal, one of the giants of the managerial game. In the lead-up, Van Gaal had also psyched his opposite number out, querying his ability to hack it at the top level. When we hit trouble in Holland, Roeder failed to find any answers and we ended up as a disorganised shambles. At the end, Van Gaal rubbed it in by saying how important it was for the players to believe in their manager’s instructions. His team had kept to a successful game-plan, whereas we had ended up as a rabble. I think the whole episode hit Roeder in a vulnerable area – the questioning of his ability. There has always been this sense with Roeder that he is driven to prove people wrong. His Achilles heel seems to be this chippiness – a feeling that he has not been given due credit. I think this feeling runs deep and extends far back in time, right to his playing days. As a young teenager, he was rejected by West Ham, the club he supported, and ended up at Orient. He moved on to QPR, where he won caps at England B level, and then had a distinguished career as captain at Newcastle. You might see this as a record that most pros would be proud of, but Roeder may have felt a sense of frustration. In the early stages of his career, Roeder was seen as future England material. Unlike other centre backs of his day, Roeder was very comfortable on the ball, and had we been playing the sweeper system that was prevalent on the Continent in those days, Roeder’s career would probably have been more successful. As with many who perhaps feel vaguely unsatisfied with their achievements as a player, Roeder was eager to get into management. However, his spells at Gillingham, Watford and West Ham are difficult to assess. He had periods of success as well as failure, and it is not clear to what extent he was simply unlucky. More to the point, I think Roeder came away from West Ham feeling that he had been unlucky, a sense that must have been exacerbated by the fact that his team went down with a record number of points for a relegated side. He resigned himself to never getting another opportunity at the top level, but deep down inside I think he felt hard done by. This was probably why, despite the obvious hazards to health and happiness that follow in the wake of the Newcastle job, he leapt at the opportunity. Many of Roeder’s public comments betrayed a vulnerability to criticism. He regularly told us how, despite his reputation for being too nice, he was just as ready to give half-time bollockings as the rest of them. He was thin-skinned with his fellow managers, once describing O’Leary’s relatively innocuous comments that Villa had not deserved to lose, as ‘spiteful’. He hinted that O’Neill had not had the ‘courage’ to accept the Newcastle job. All of this was probably exacerbated by the reluctance of the League Managers Association to accept him into their fold, due to his lack of the proper coaching qualification. And so, at Alkmaar, this still ambitious man, frustrated by the limited success of his playing and managerial careers and hungry for recognition, gets publicly turned over by a top level manager who appears to view him with disdain. It must have hurt, and it was important that Roeder maintained his composure and stuck to the methods that had brought him thus far. But he didn’t. Following the game, there was a rumour of a bust-up in the dressing room. This seemed to be given some credence later when Roeder publicly lashed out at the players, with Bramble singled out for special treatment. Previously, with some justification, he had praised Bramble’s contribution and had restored him to the first team soon after he had recovered from injury. He had stood by him against criticism. Now, after the mistake that led to Alkmaar’s second goal, he was banished – not even making the subs bench. This public humiliation would not have gone down well in the dressing room. Bramble, ever unpopular with the majority of fans, was an easy scapegoat. The players would have been aware of Roeder’s tactical foul-up in Holland, and would have interpreted this as the manager deflecting criticism from himself. Roeder also began muttering darkly about several players needing to prove themselves worthy of the shirt in the weeks ahead. He threatened a clear-out unless they bucked up their ideas. I don’t think it’s ever a good idea for a manager to publicly take sides with Joe Public against his own players, and Roeder in particular was the last person who should have tried this tactic. Roeder was the under-qualified manager with the poor record who had stumbled into the job. He had won the players round by working in partnership with them, and it was their positive response that had been the major factor in the relative success that had brought him the permanent post. Having put him in the job, the players were now seeing him threatening to wield the axe. The question must have gone through their minds – who the hell does he think he is? And so the edge went out of their game, most conspicuously in the case of Kieron Dyer, Bramble’s mate and closest ally. Dyer’s return had inspired our revival half way through the season, and suddenly his focus went. Rumours sprung up of a possible transfer to Spurs. Although Dyer’s loss of form was the most costly, the drive seemed to be absent from several others. After all, they were no longer fighting for a common cause that they had all bought into. They were apparently fighting for their own individual futures, a spirit that breeds disunity as well as resentment. Stories about discontentment in the ranks began to circulate in the media, and the Board would inevitably have been concerned. In short, Roeder had blown all the goodwill that he had built up in the early days, and which had sustained him in the job. Having made such an important contribution at a difficult period, it was sad to see Roeder self-destruct due - ultimately I believe - to a fatal flaw in his own self-confidence. There have been other criticisms of Roeder’s abilities that I don’t think are fully justified. Many have said that his team selections and tactics have been poor, but I feel that Roeder was generally sound in these areas. At various times, he showed some boldness under pressure and a faith in his own judgement that was commendable. He has also been criticised by taking the wrong actions in the transfer field, but again I think this is unfair. Without launching into a different subject, I think that our Chairman has a far more involved role in the recruitment of players than is healthy, and there has been a lack of clarity about team-building which extends back to the days of Souness and Robson. Could it all have worked out differently? Perhaps not. Roeder was always in a weak position, on a short contract, and beholden to the Chairman who had given him an opportunity that he could never dream of getting elsewhere. He was also beholden to the players, having worked with them as a guide and mentor rather than a dictator. His lack of a strong managerial record meant that his overall abilities were bound to be questioned by fans, players and Chairman alike, the minute a crisis erupted. When he tried to throw his weight around, he had little to throw. Many, including myself, did not want Roeder to be offered the permanent job, despite his success as a caretaker. I thought there were better candidates out there, particularly O’Neill. It felt like Roeder’s appointment was a re-assertion of the status quo within the club, where the Chairman occupies a domineering position that affects the authority of the manager. It needed a powerful figure to come in from the outside, who could make demands and assert himself at all levels. Instead, we were given another potential lame duck. At the moment, although I feel that Roeder had to go, I don’t feel any sense of relief, or any sense of hope that we’re at the dawn of a new era. Not yet anyway. The reason is that the Chairman, whose inept decision-making has led to a series of crises, is still in control. He has shown no capacity to learn from previous mistakes, and my worry is that he will blunder again. However, Shepherd’s position seems secure. Rumours of a takeover seem to have faded, and the Halls have shown little appetite for taking over the running of the club themselves. We’ll just have to hope that now that Shepherd’s realistic options seem to be limited to one man, even he can’t fail to do what’s needed. Cheers for that Bob, best thing I've read about the whole thing and sums up my own feelings. I always felt the defeat in Alkmaar pretty much turned the tide against him from fans to players all the way up to the board. Cracking read Link to post Share on other sites More sharing options...
Create an account or sign in to comment
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Create an account
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!Register a new account
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now