The Sweeper: Garry Cook and The Football Business

Garry Cook

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The fallout from Mark Hughes’ sacking continues to dominate the headlines, with two different schools of thought emerging (though everyone agrees Man City Garry Cook is a bumbling, unpleasant man): one says football is now operating like any other business, and one says it isn’t.

Martin O’Neill says the pulling of the trigger on Hughes shows football is not just like any other business:

I suppose it is a microcosm of our game,” O’Neill said, reflecting on Hughes’s departure. “Manchester City have lost fewer games than anyone else in the league, they are in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup and seemingly this decision was taken three or four weeks ago. As a manager, it doesn’t inspire you with great confidence. Unfortunately, it happens in the game and that’s the nature of it. It’s a sad indictment. It’s crazy.

In any other industry, you would be given the time to do the job, you really would. But football is not like any other industry and more so than ever before. I must admit that very little surprises you but I was half-surprised about this, due to Hughes’s record and the fact he has lost fewer games than anyone else.

At the same time, Ian Herbert in the Independent explains that Garry Cook is bringing the world of business to football:

Cook believes that what passes for good business planning in any other organisation should also apply to the world of football – though his decision to reveal as much in such detail is extraordinary. “We did our scenario planning, mapping out the season, the results we were seeking and in those plans we looked at the options open to us if we were in a position when we needed to look for a new manager before Christmas,” he said. “Even at that point we looked at the managers who could be available in a World Cup year, and those who might definitely be available. We had no intention of replacing Mark Hughes – but surely as a business we are entitled to examine all the options?”

Paul Wilson in the Guardian seems to concur, saying clubs “have to be hard-nosed and businesslike about the matter” when it comes to replacing managers. But if this was a normal business, Garry Cook wouldn’t still have a job in such a prominent position in the first place, would he? I’m not sure the way Cook has handled all this can be considered “businesslike” in any commonplace understanding of the term. The Manchester Evening News has had an unprecedented response to City’s handling of the affair, and offers 12 questions Cook should answer.

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The Sweeper appears every weekday, and once at the weekend. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.

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