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The Gordon Hill column: Chelsea - the Dallas Cowboys of the Premier League

I thought a lot about this weekend’s news, and it has happened again, another manager in 2012 has lost his job. Andre Villas-Boas' tortured spell as Chelsea manager comes to an abrupt end and bites the dust.

Well, would you believe it is Chelsea again? Eight managers in nine years. I have read all the papers and I must agree with them that Abramovich is an embarrassment to the club. He may have all the money in the world, but he cannot buy breeding and that is what a top football club like Chelsea has - a breeding culture, ever since I have watched them as a kid.

On the other hand, I have noticed a lot of these so-called foreign investors buy the clubs and then start to think that they know the game, and as people in the game know, a little bit of knowledge is dangerous in football. If it does not work for them, they want out, just look at Tom Hicks and George Gillette at Liverpool. There’ll be more to follow.

Now let’s move on to Milan Mandaric at Sheffield Wednesday. Gary Megson is in third place in League One and then gets the sack. Why is it that these so-called money people want to destroy a club? This man has had Portsmouth, Leicester City, and now Sheffield Wednesday, I will have to say watch this space Wednesday fans.

Dallas Cowboys 

If you look at people who buy clubs, there are some that stay out of it, and others who cannot stay away. It reminds me of what is happening in the United States with an NFL team called the Dallas Cowboys.

They are supposed to be America's team, but there you have the owner/general manager, Jerry Jones, who cannot stop interfering with the team. Abramovic and the Cowboys' owners should team up, it would be interesting to see whose ego wins.

It is true to say that managers know that being in football, whether it be in the Premier League or any other league, you are hired to be fired. I know this first-hand, but how can you justify some of them? There is no loyalty in the game.

Money and winning is the number one factor in you keeping your job, and the higher you are, the better the pay-off. Having said that, if you are fired as a manager, you do not leave empty-handed. Your contract is normally paid up - not bad for going on ‘gardening leave’ as we call it.

Baptism of fire

But I had a terrible baptism to managerial experience when I was at Chester City. We did not have a pot to pee in, we were not getting the crowds - supporters hated your guts and wanted you out. I had a budget with which to operate the club, and I had to make cuts to keep the club from going under.

I had bailiffs coming in trying to put chains on the gates before a game and I still had to deliver a result at the weekend. Some of the club’s problems had escalated over years, and it was difficult to sort them out.

At the bottom, you cannot pull money from thin air. Yes, it is great as a player because you do not see the other side of the club but when you step over, wow, it opens your eyes.

One of my stories is as follows: we had just finished training and the players were given their wage cheques as it was at the end of the month. I had my team talk to the players and told them to go home and get prepared for a tough home game on Saturday.


We had prepared well all week in training but as I sat down in my office getting things together for Saturday’s game, I got a phone call from one of the players. It was Wayne Brown, my goalkeeper. “Boss, I deposited my cheque in the bank and it bounced” he said. Then it got worse, two or three more and then the whole team had the same problem.

‘Oh no’ I thought, ‘Mr Chairman, where are you? I don't need this before a big game’. I talked to the chairman and was told that we would have to take some money from the youth fund which we should not have done, but I had to do it.

All the players were paid in cash, so all Friday afternoon I was counting out wages. The next day, the players came in early and gave me their cheques. I gave them the cash and then had to get ready for a game. Yes it is good at the top but double-hard at the bottom because every penny counts.

Talk about pressure, and your mind not on your real job getting a result. What a way to run a club that is at the bottom. I will tell you more, but that is enough for now.  So please don't tell me about struggling with a club, I know. Would I do it again? My answer is YES because it is in my blood. It is not in the owners’.

By Gordon Hill

Gordon Hill was capped six times for England in the 1970s and made 132 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 51 goals. He scored both United goals in their 1976 FA Cup semi-final win against Derby and played in the Red Devils' 2-1 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool in 1977.

He has played for Millwall, Derby, QPR and FC Twente and managed Chester City, Hyde. He has also played in Finland, the USA and Canada where he managed the Novia Scotia Clippers in the Canadian Soccer League.

As a media commentator, Hill has worked with Sky Sports, BBC, ITV and Talk Radio. He lives with his wife Claire in Mckinney, Texas, where he owns and runs Texas-based club United FC

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