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Short-Termism's Damaging Effect on the Premier League

07/03/2014 17:17 | Updated 07 May 2014

Since its inception in the late 19th Century, football, like almost every other sport, has transformed beyond comprehension. It is now a multi-billion dollar network that transcends nationalities and is global in its reach. During this same period, the world has seen technology and communications develop in ways that would have seemed completely incomprehensible to those living in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

Today, the modern human race operates extremely quickly and efficiently - we can get what we want when we want it and this reality has caused us to become very impatient and to an extent, lazy. This is true to an even greater degree for the multi-millionaires and billionaires that own Premier League football clubs.

When this sort of person purchases a team for a significant amount of money and then has to invest even more capital to restructure the club as they see fit, they want to see a quick return on their investment. Football, however, is a business like no other and this dose of short-termism is becoming very damaging.

The development of the Premier League into a massive international brand means that there are astronomical amounts of money to be made. Unfortunately, those who own football clubs are usually out to make a quick buck and in many cases do not possess the know-how to run a successful club. If things are not going well, then questions are immediately raised as to whether a manager'a job is safe, or whether a player should be dropped. Andre Villas-Boas has been sacked twice before being given a proper crack at building a team. Such short-termism is also affecting the likes of David Moyes and Alan Pardew. Even Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have been questioned after a run of poor games.

If a manager is given the time at a club to build his own side, then in most cases the club will reap the rewards. For example, questions were asked over Arsene Wenger's tenure at Arsenal towards the end of last season and while it has been many years since Arsenal have won a trophy, the Frenchman is clearly a victim of his own success. Because Arsenal won Premier League titles and domestic trophies in the last decade, many fans came to expect this over and over again. The only reason for their continued success and revival this season is because they have the stability that comes with an intelligent manager at the helm who doesn't spend money like it's going out of fashion.

Using Arsenal as an example of damaging impatience, take Mesut Ozil. Arguably one of the most gifted footballers of his generation, Ozil is derided by many as a 'flop' because he hasn't hit his own previous heights. The midfielder has been at Arsenal for just over six months and could potentially be there for the next ten years, but he needs time to adapt to a new league, style of play and even the lifestyle in England, so there is already a tremendous amount of pressure on him. His price tag, however, fuels calls for an immediate impact. It is ridiculous and damaging to both player and club. Give the player time and if he is good enough then the club shall reap the rewards. Just to be clear, Ozil is but one example out of hundreds and the reason he is used here is because he is current.

One can almost forgive football club owners for their short-sightedness as they are usually stepping into the unknown, but fans are also being afflicted by this very modern malaise. There were more than a few Arsenal fans who believed that Wenger had run his course towards the end of last season and many fans began calling for the heads of Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce when the going got tough. After two wins in a row for Newcastle and a good run of form for West Ham, however, the pressure was alleviated immediately. Make no mistake, neither is out of the woods and a short run of bad form will see the headsman sharpening his axe in anticipation.

History shows us that this short-sightedness goes against the interest of the club and it is simply counter-productive to sack a manager or sell a player enduring a brief period of poor form.

Two of the best sides in the world over the last few years are Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Both sides were formed over a number of years, built around a strong core of players who slowly perfected the art of playing with each other and in a certain way. Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi. Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Muller. These players all form very strong partnerships and are deadly when played together. This is because they have been given the benefit of time. Of course there are changes, including managers, but the new faces come in and stick to the philosophy and are absorbed by those around them. Both clubs still follow a clear vision and anybody they recruit has to fit it. This is far-removed from the chopping and changing displayed by many other less successful sides in recent years.

This sort of successful long-term building isn't completely absent in England, just look at Southampton and Norwich. Both teams achieved back-to-back promotions based on a definitive style of play and a strong core of regulars. Swansea's rise through the leagues is also representative of this kind of intelligent development.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the likes of Chelsea, who despite their billions had found it difficult to reach the upper echelons of the Premier League without the stability brought in by Jose Mourinho. West Brom and Fulham are both languishing near the bottom of the table because a manager was only allowed to do half a job before somebody else was brought in. For the ultimate examples of self-destructive short-termism, look no further than Blackburn and Leeds.

Trigger happy chairmen and agitated supporters are an epidemic like we have never seen before in the Premier League. It is easy as a fan to jump to conclusions and say that a player should be dropped or a manager sacked, but if you sit back and look at the situation as a whole with the next few seasons in mind rather than just the next few games, then in most situations it is best to give people time. These people are professionals, but they are still human and would inevitably work better without constant scrutiny and pressure. Let them do what they are good at, relieve the pressure and look at the long-term picture. You'll be amazed at the results.

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