It must be hard to strike the right balance as a caretaker manager but Thompson at Hillsborough and Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars at Valley Parade (where they have gone from being joint caretaker to interim managers – I am not quite sure what the difference is) seem to be getting it right.
Bradford suffered their first defeat under the pair at Exeter City last week. Like them, Thompson has been in charge for nine matches, and has taken Wednesday out of the Championship relegation zone with six wins in all competitions.
When you only have the job on a temporary basis it must be hard to know how much change to make, particularly if you are going to be handing the reins on soon. Usually you are going into a club where the atmosphere is not great, so that is something you do have to alter straight away.
A lot of caretakers – including those three, who all worked in the youth ranks – have the advantage of knowing the club and its players well.
It is a strength of a manager that they usually think they can identify a talented young player but a new figure coming in may not really trust them – that certainly seemed to be the case with Tony Pulis at Wednesday.
Caretakers often have a good idea of who is mentally strong enough to come into a difficult situation.
Bringing in youngsters – like Osaze Urhoghide and Ryan Galvin at Wednesday, and Finn Cousin-Dawson in Bradford’s case – adds a freshness and a competitive element to the first team because the senior players should be thinking they are not about to give up their places.
But being made caretaker is also a chance to show what you can do.
Bradford have put real faith in their interim managers, who have changed the formation but have also been given licence to make nine signings and let six players go. This week they brought in an extra analyst too.
In women’s football, the Lionesses have a caretaker manager in Hege Riise. She is looking after things until Sabrina Weigman takes over in the autumn, but will also be out to prove she can manage Great Britain at the Olympics. She spoke to us on last night’s Women’s Football Show on Sky Sports about “tweaking” rather than overhauling things, but made the big decision to drop Whitby’s Beth Mead from this month’s training camp.
Riise said her decision was based on scouting reports and a lack of game-time, but also made clear she has spoken to Beth and told her the door is not shut because she is a great player. The Norwegian seems to be someone who will say it like it is.
The decision to leave Beth out could be a masterstroke.
I can still remember the day I was leaving the house to go to a game against Sunderland and my Leeds United coach, Rick Passmore, rang to say I would be on the bench. It made me want to prove him wrong and the reason I loved playing for him was he knew how to get the best out of me. If this gets a reaction out of Beth, Hege could be handing an even better player over.
I imagine Trueman and Sellars are both ambitious to show what they can do.
It seems to me they are Bradford’s “permanent” managers in all but name but would there be added pressure as soon as you give them the title?
The only real reason for changing their job title is to give them something to put on their CV.
As it is, Thompson has already been in charge of the Championship club for nine matches, and Pulis was only there for 10, so so much for being permanent!
Some coaches prefer to be in the background and you can go under the radar a bit as a caretaker but as soon as that word gets dropped, the intensity and scrutiny increases.
There is no reason why players should necessarily do anything different, but we saw how Manchester United took a downturn when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went from caretaker to permanent manager. If you were in charge at Valley Parade or Hillsborough why take the risk?
If I were Sheffield Wednesday I would just scale back the manager search and let Thompson continuing doing what he is, because it is clearly working.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
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