The Final Word – v Kilmarnock 30/10/19

The continued pressure on managers in Scotland shows no sign of slowing down, though Scottish Premiership clubs appear to be demonstrating more patience.

He’d only been in job just over a month and the knives were already out.

Following on from Kilmanrock’s shock Europa League exit to Connah’s Quay Nomads, sections of the press decided that Angelo Alessio’s time was already up.

While there was no getting away from what was arguably one of the most embarrassing in the history of Scottish sides competing in Europe, the case for sacking a manager after just 180 minutes of football is every bit as absurd as the justification that was offered for doing so.

Referenced in one particular article was Alessio’s ‘pidgin English’, his failure to follow what was described as the ‘basics and the dotted lines of management’ as well as the addition of foreign players to a squad that had finished third under Steve Clarke last season.

Former Killie defender Kirk Broadfoot added further fuel to the fire by suggesting Alessio’s methods weren’t suited to the players at Kilmarnock. The former Scotland internationalist is absolutely entitled to his opinion; he’s worked with a number of highly regarded bosses during his career, though it also could be argued that you’ll struggle to find a player who has enjoyed working with every single manager they have played for.

It also strikes you that there appears to be a degree of fear when it comes to something different or something new in the Scottish game.

Last season Kilmarnock recorded their highest league finish since 2001. Clarke was lauded for his role in their success and just a few days after the curtain came down on a memorable he would depart to take up the managerial reigns of the Scottish national side.

Killie undoubtedly overcame the odds to finish above a number of sides who operate with a higher budget and in defeating both Celtic and Rangers (twice) over the course; they showed they were more than capable of going head-to-head with the top teams in the country.

A ‘more of the same’ approach was never likely to be possible for Alessio given the number of changes in personnel at the club. The summer saw the departure of Jordan Jones, Kris Boyd’s decision to retire and Greg Taylor’s move to Celtic just before the transfer window slammed shut.

Scaling those heights for a second successive season was always going to be a big ask, though despite a challenging start, the signs are there that Alessio and Killie are beginning to find their feet. They have shown themselves to be extremely difficult to breakdown and while their lack of goals may continue to be a bit of a concern, Saturday’s 1-0 victory over St Mirren took them third in the Premiership table.

Just like it was far too early to suggest that Alessio should be removed from his position, it’s too early to hail him as a success story. However those in the positions of power at Kilmarnock look like they’ll be rewarded for exercising some patience when it comes to their manager.

Patience seems like a trait that appears to be in limited supply for managers in the modern game.

It’s the job of the manager to front up win, lose or draw and while fans can get caught up in the emotion of a result whether it is good or bad – results are pivotal in dictating those emotions.

Look at social media after a game and you’ll see this all play out, after a win everything is brilliant and the positivity is flowing, yet if you lose a week later then the same team is absolutely no use and the manager needs to go – there’s rarely any sort of middle ground.

Ahead of last month’s game against Hibernian, Stephen Robinson discussed the constant pressure placed on bosses in an interview with the Herald.

“The reality is that it’s my job to make decisions, some of them are unpopular, but you ultimately make them on what you see in games and training,” the ‘Well gaffer said. “We had one poor game against Hearts, so it puts into perspective the crazy hysteria around management.”

Robinson, not for the first time during his time in charge at Fir Park has steered Motherwell back on the right track after a disappointing run of form and again more than repaid the faith shown in him in by the board.

That resilience and ability to react has been essential for Robinson and he’s often quoted as saying that he won’t get carried away after a win, just like he doesn’t get too down after a loss – an element of perspective is very important.

He has been in the same position as his counterpart in the dugout this evening during his time at ‘Well, especially during a torrid run towards the end of last year, though just like Alessio he emerged from troubled times and repaid the faith shown in him as a manager.

Both managers in charge tonight are perfect examples of the benefits of exercising a degree of patience when it comes to making big decisions on the future of a manager.