Football: Burnley – The Known Or The Unknown?

It’s a week after Burnley and Steve Cotterill have parted company and the Clarets have approached Sheffield Wednesday to speak to manager Brian Laws. It’s surprising that Burnley should approach Laws given that he has only been at Hillsborough a year and The Owls had such a shaky start to the season. But maybe it’s not that surprising.

On the same day, Wigan wait for approval from Birmingham City to speak to Steve Bruce. Their former manager. And we learn that Steve Cotterill is in the running for the vacant Preston North End job.

Laws: Bruce; Cotterill. All managers with known capability. Track records. Pretty safe pairs of hands. They’ll do a good job. But what about those without track records? The Adie Boothroyd’s. The Nigel Adkins’s. The Simon Davey’s. Managers appointed without League experience yet all doing excellent work. Coming from the unknown.

It’s a tough call for chairmen. Playing with the club’s future. That is why they go for the known options. They can look at their track records for key performance indicators. But they may not be the managers to really take the club places. Into the club’s unknown. A place beyond expectations.

That may be the preserve of the hungry young managers loaded with ideas, plans, motivational and strategic acumen. Managers working away in the lower leagues, academies or reserve teams. Or non-league. Waiting for an opportunity. No track records. Only a vision of a way of leading a football club. And a burning desire, like Adie Boothroyd, to put their ideas into practise.

It may take a brave chairman to appoint a manager from the unknown. But it’s no greater gamble than playing safe.

Note: Burnley’s subsequent appointment of St. Johnstone manager Owen Coyle was a bold and imaginative choice.

Posted in Football Psychology, Sports Psychology Blog.