Managing to Last

WITHIN an hour of concluding his regular Thursday morning press conference, Argyle boss Derek Adams rose a place in the standings.

Not in Sky Bet League Two – although Derek has not lost sight of rising one more spot to win the division this season – but in the table of longest reigning managers in England. Aitor Karanka lost his job as Middlesbrough manager during mid-morning, meaning only 23 bosses of the other 91 teams in the top four divisions in the country have been in their jobs longer than Adams.


It is a precarious job, without doubt, whichever club you are in charge of, and whatever you have achieved. Karanka had taken Boro into the Premier League last season; his dismissal closely followed that of Alex Neil and Steve McLaren, of Norwich and Derby respectively, both in the top half of the Championship; not to mention the Claudio Ranieri example of creating an astounding story of Leicester’s Premier League victory, then being dismissed the following February.


“The job of a manager nowadays is very difficult,” said Derek. “You find at a football club that the inner works always stay, but the manager moves. That’s just the way with how high profile it is.


“It does take a lot out of you. Being manager of any football club is difficult. You have to move on each day, each day brings its own issues that you have to deal with.”


In the opposite dugout to Derek, this Saturday, will be Jim Bentley, who will lead his Morecambe to Home Park for the sixth time. No-one else has ever managed the Shrimps against Argyle. Come May, Bentley will complete six years as Morecambe boss; only Arsene Wenger of Arsenal and Paul Tisdale of Exeter City have been in their positions longer.


Bentley’s side are currently 15th in League Two, comfortably away from the relegation positions, though probably too far from the play-off spots to make a concerted late effort. They are, though, a club with small resources and well-publicised financial troubles, with players and staff being paid their January wages two weeks late.


In context, one can see what a remarkable story it is for Bentley to have not only lasted so long, but kept Morecambe in a healthy position. 


“Jim Bentley has done a fabulous job there,” said Derek. “He’s had a difficult season with all the turmoil off the pitch. He’s been able to put them in a good position.


“Morecambe want to - first of all, I think – stay in the league, and they’ve been able to do that again. Then, they are looking to see how far up this division they can finish. Next year they will probably look to push up into the play-off places.


“Jim has been able to deal with himself in a proper manner through all the hard times they have had this season.”