The more things change…

Just reading Jim White’s excellent “Manchester United:  The biography” (no, really).    Dave Sexton, who taught Roy Hodgson, has just been dismissed:

For the players, though they liked the manager and admired his knowledge of the game, there was a sense of anticlimax, a feeling that somehow the voltage about the place had been reduced.  Training became less like playtime and more like being back in the classroom.  Lou Macari recalls one session in which Sexton spent an age explaining a complex choreographed move he wanted to put into effect at corners.  After failing to enthuse his enervated players into the routine, Sexton looked despairing.

“We’re all shaking our heads at this point,” recalls Macari.  “Then Big Gordon (McQueen) pipes up, “I’ve got an idea, Dave.  It’s not as clever as yours, but you never know, it might work.  Why doesn’t someone cross the ball, I get my big stupid head on it and put it in the back of the net then we can all fuck off home.””

Martin Edwards:  “It was very hard to do it, it really was, because Dave was such a very, very nice man and full of integrity,” says Edwards.  “But it wasn’t really happening, we weren’t progressing and the crowd was getting restless.  They were.  But mostly I didn’t feel the tradition was being upheld.  There is such thing as the United way.  That is the character of the club, and the supporters demand it.

Spooky.  Sexton had taught Hodgson at one point, and Hodgson certainly looked up to him.

5 thoughts on “The more things change…

  1. Want it to get even more spooky? From Wiki:

    He took over at Manchester United – again succeeding Tommy Docherty – in the summer of 1977 but his reign was characterised by dour football and he was not popular with the fans. In appointing Sexton it appeared as if the United board had again opted for safety following the tumultuous tenure of Docherty (sacked for having an affair with the wife of the club’s physiotherapist), whose four-and-a-half-year spell had overseen relegation from the First Division but an immediate comeback followed by high league finishes and completed with an FA Cup triumph in the season before Sexton’s appointment.

    I think there are some parallels with the reign of Benitez and Docherty (although I have not heard of Benitez being an adulterer!)

  2. In a further parallel, older viewers will remember how Sexton was responsible for the Great Escape at Fulham prior to Roy’s, a mere 41 years (passed in a flash) earlier. We were rooted to the bottom when he arrived as coach. His tenure absolutely coincided with a huge upturn in fortune universally ascribed to his influence. End of season he was off to a similar role at Arsenal.

    1. Sexton must have been one of the most influential coaches in Fulham’s history. That 41 year ago Great Escape was even more miraculous, and had less luck involved I reckon, than Roy’s. Big “ifs”, but if we had kept Sexton, supplemented that team the next season, and continued that form, we would have streaked away with the League title. Wasn’t it something like 11 wins in the last 13 games?

  3. It was actually 42 years before Roy, spring 1966, and featured 9 wins out of 11 before two final draws. Sexton then left and it was back to earth, with loss after loss the rest of the year.
    Blink and you’d miss it. Wikipedia does: “started off as a coach at Chelsea, before leaving to begin his managerial career at Leyton Orient in 1965. In 1966 he was appointed by Arsenal….”

  4. I’m glad that Sexton’s record at Fulham in 1966 has been highlighted here. As you would expect the players of that era thought very highly of him. His Chelsea side of the early seventies hardly came across as dull.

    The complaints of Macari and McQueen remind me of some of the Blackburn players (especially Tim Sherwood) when Roy was sacked. They wanted a more light hearted, fun atmosphere at training which was not Roy’s way.

    It says a lot for the maturity of Fulham’s squad that they recognised the value of getting the job done and were totally committed to their manager.

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