The Realities Of A Coaching Change

The Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle ran a little snippet last week that quoted Martin Jol saying he was seeking a 'solution' to the futures of the remaining members of Mark Hughes' backroom staff. Or, in other words, giving them the sack.

The new Fulham boss made it plain today that the club were looking for a 'solution' to resolve the futures of Mark Bowen, Glyn Hodges, Kevin Hitchcock and Eddie Neidzwiecki, who are still contracted to Craven Cottage.

Dutchman Jol said: "There is a few people left and [chief executive] Alistair Mackintosh is dealing with them.

"Hopefully there will be a solution in the next couple of weeks."

Further rumors have been prevalent, to say the least, that Jol plans on giving the squad a makeover. Out with the old, in with the new. High-ho, high-ho, it's off to the Dutch style we go. Exciting stuff.

He said: "It’s a difficult question about turning around the style, because it’s an older team with their own style.

"We can’t change that overnight. But in the next couple of months - or even years - I will be trying.

"[Previous manager] Roy [Hodgson] wanted to change, Mark [Hughes] wanted it. And if you have, say, someone like Aaron Lennon at Fulham - you have a different team."

Also very sad stuff.

The ushering in of a new era generally brings about the total dismantling of the previous regime and loss of several jobs along with it. Where one finds opportunity, another tends to lose it.

For players and coaches alike, the transition is rarely seamless.

It is, however, the nature of the business that is sports. Few jobs are permanent, most are short term and rather stressful. All coaches and players know this.

That doesn't make it any less difficult when the ax swings and many a man is back on the unemployment line or desperately searching for a new club to bring them on.

A very high-profile coaching search was conducted in my hometown of Pittsburgh last winter after the University of Pittsburgh's head (American) football coach Dave Wannstedt was forced to resign.

The search ended up a big mess. Mike Haywood was hired to become the new head coach, but was fired a matter of weeks later after being arrested for domestic abuse. The search resumed and a new man, Todd Graham, was chosen.

In between all of this, for over a month, Wannstedt's support staff was in limbo. Some had been offered jobs and jumped at the opportunity, some hadn't and were just waiting for the new head coach to come in and clean house. I imagine Bowen and company are in a similarly precarious position.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Paul Zeise gave the situation some perspective at the time after fans had complained about a couple of the university's coaches taking other jobs before the team played their final game of the season.

By the way, I've had several people e-mail me to criticize both Jeff Hafley and Frank Cignetti for "abandoning" Pitt's players when they need leadership the most. I don't think that is fair -- both had to think about their futures and both were under a lot of pressure to take the job because Schiano is trying to finalize his staff.

Hafley just got married, Cignetti has three kids and one on the way, they both need a job and the reality is neither owes Pitt anything. That's the reality of the business - it is cut throat because the stakes are extremely high. This goes back to what I said at the outset of this all -- all of these things are reporting about and writing about people are talking about involve real people, people with real lives and familes and that is always something to consider.

These are men with real lives, real situations outside of football. 

All of this is to convey that, while the transfer season is very exciting and all of these coaching changes bring about interesting results, there's also a sad, human element to it.

It is also a necessary element, of course. Every captain wants to run a ship manned by their own crew. But that doesn't make it any less tragic when a deckhand is made to walk the plank.

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