Football Diary

by Patrick O'Connor


THE managerial merry-go-round at Chelsea has again hit the headlines but a fascinating BBC television documentary recently revealed a mess at another London club.

QPR: the Four Year Plan was sanctioned by F1 motor-racing mogul Flavio Briatore when he bought Queens Park Rangers in 2007.

He allowed filmmaker Mat Hodgson unrestricted access behind the scenes and Hodgson took full advantage, capturing the mayhem as Briatore and his fellow investors hired and fired managers “like a child rifling through a box of toys” according to the Radio Times Jack Seale in his review of the programme.

It was fascinating but disturbing television. If you were a genuine football fan and even more crucially if you were a genuine QPR fan it was like watching a disaster film.

Yet perversely out of the chaos came success and last summer QPR won promotion to the Premier League.

They finally settled on a manager who could work wonders and the experienced campaigner Neil Warnock took QPR up at the first attempt.

Last summer Briatore and some of his fellow investors left but QPR still don't seemed to understand the word stability. By Christmas Warnock had been sacked and a new manager – Mark Hughes – brought in.

They currently hover just above the Premier League relegation zone.

“Can rich businessmen get away with acting childishly, idiotically, tyrannically, if they throw enough cash at a problem? Can it be that football clubs are sometimes run by men whose knowledge of the game stretches no further than recognising that 1 is a bigger number than 0,” asked Seale.

He concluded: “Football was shown conforming to William Goldman’s dictum about the film industry: Nobody Knows Anything. Fans across the country now have an even stronger image of club owners as capricious buffoons – which intensifies the feelings of helplessness and endless injustice that they secretly love, and is thus probably for the best.”

The Everton manager David Moyes commented last week that a “new breed" of owner has made it difficult for managers to assert their authority at a club.

Moyes, who this week celebrates 10 years at Everton, reckons candidates should check they have full control by interviewing their chairmen before taking charge.

“We need to find out how this guy giving us a job is going to react to defeats. How is he going to react to wins, or when you are having to change things?”

In his interview with BBC TV Football Focus Moyes said: “Is he going to be completely supportive in your decisions at the club, whether it be moving on senior players, whether it be introducing young players?

“You need to know whether you are going to get that backing. You also need to know you've got a sense of control. The new breed of chairmen and owners coming into the game now is making it more difficult for that situation to happen."

Who's been a naughty boy then?

Defender Roger Johnson has been told he will retain the Wolves captaincy despite being declared as “unfit to train properly” on Monday morning by caretaker manager Terry Connor.

Wolves would not elaborate although the player has been disciplined.

Johnson said: “I have apologised to the manager, my team-mates and the club. My conduct and approach to training on Monday was below the high standard the club rightly needs and demands of me, and what I demand of myself.”

So, even footballers have that Monday morning feeling....