BCFC: Succession Management

A late Josh Onomah winner ensured that Blues horrendous run without a win continued at Craven Cottage on Saturday. With teams around Blues continuing to pick up points the pressure is starting to stack up and the vitriol towards Pep Clotet is getting louder.

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

I wrote out my frustrations about Clotet on Thursday, and why I thought that it was vital that Blues sorted out the managerial situation sooner rather than later.

Saturday has just further compounded that, and while I’m now of the opinion Clotet has to at minimum be placed on gardening leave, the lack of anyone to take over the reins scares me.

Why Won’t Pep Just Go?

I’ve seen a lot of people talking about this, asking why Clotet won’t just walk away from Blues.

The truth is Clotet has already walked once, at the start of June. He told the club he wanted to leave, and the club announced that he would leave at the end of the season.

I don’t think Clotet wanted to stick around as long as that and what I’ve heard (but cannot verify) is that he was talked into it via some sort of compromise agreement.

As is common in football, there are severance payments that have to be made to managers when they are sacked. The level of this would have been agreed when Clotet signed a new deal having had the “caretaker” part of his job title removed.

However, as also is common in football, when a manager quits they get bupkis.

When Clotet chose to walk away in June, he would have done so knowing that he wouldn’t be entitled to any kind of settlement in doing so.

What I suspect (but for obvious reasons cannot prove) is that Blues offered a compromise settlement that would be less money than he’d have got if he was sacked, but better than nothing. The catch in the agreement would have been that Clotet had to stay until the end of the season, keep his mouth shut, etc.

If this is true, then it makes sense that Clotet now will not budge until the end of the season because it would be pretty daft to walk away from a financial settlement twice.

Likewise, the club won’t want to terminate his employment early because that could mean that they would be potentially liable for the original severance package.

That means the only option that remains is to place Clotet on gardening leave until the end of the season, and potentially give someone internal the job for a couple of weeks to get Blues across the line if no one external is immediately available.

Right now it seems to be that no one who is currently at Blues particularly wants that poisoned chalice – and therein lies the problem.

Succession Management

One thing that a fair number of clubs are starting to do is to keep a list of managers that they will look to bring in if something happens to the one they have.

It’s quite a sensible thing to do; after all if a manager is successful it’s possible they’ll get headhunted by a job somewhere bigger with more pay.

By having a list of managers to bring in, a club can maintain a particular “ethos” and / or playing style it wants to promote, and build a sense of continuity.

For whatever reason, it doesn’t feel that Blues have done this.

If they had, I can’t believe that they would be faced with the problems that they have now.

I’m sure if the club had a go-to list of who they wanted ready, then at least one of their shortlist would consider taking the job. As it stands at the moment, Blues appear no closer to appointing a manager than they were five weeks ago.

Secondly, with this kind of planning in place there would probably be someone within the club who would take the role on.

As it stands now, Blues are very short of experience. Xavi Calm went back to Spain on May 2, while I understand Alberto Escobar will leave with Clotet. James Beattie has been on gardening leave for so long I’d be surprised if he’s not mates with Alan Titchmarsh by now.

That leaves Blues with a choice from Craig Gardner, Sean Rush, Darryl Flahavan, Steve Spooner or maybe even Paul Robinson – none of whom have any experience in leading a first team.

That being said, the way I feel right now I can’t help but think some “pashun” from Gardner and Robinson would help the team get the points needed to stagger over the line.

Whether they would want to work together to do that, I don’t know.

With the games coming quick and fast it’s imperative Blues do something – anything – to stop the rot.

I can’t help but imagine that the morale in the squad might be low after another defeat, while the relentless schedule of games has also got to mean some tired legs.

To carry on as we are and expect better results in the short term seems like a mistake.

To not learn from this and build a better internal infrastructure could be calamitous.

It’s time that people like Ren Xuandong, Zhao Wenqing and the owners now take heed because we can only flirt with relegation so many times before it happens.