It's a funny old game

The managerial merry-go-round has ground to a halt for some of the most talented men in football.

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Apart from TV, obviously, is there a weirder industry than football? There are major similarities: unsociable hours, high rates of divorce, contracts not worth the paper they're written on, people waiting to stab you in the front because they can't be bothered stabbing you in the back... you know the kind off thing.

Yet it's an industry that allowed Brian Laws to become boss of Premier League Burnley, having just been sacked by Sheffield Wednesday - a side second-bottom of the league below. I'm thrilled for him, by the way, because he's a good manager even though he now has one of the toughest jobs in football. Owen Coyle's no fool, he knows Burnley have been punching above their weight for two years and have gone as far as they can do. It wouldn't surprise me if they sink like a stone. I wish Laws all the best.

The former Reading manager Brendan Rodgers came over for a chat on the beach this week and his story sums up football. Schooled at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, Rodgers was heralded as the bright new thing when he became a manager, but just 55 games later he is out of work and bemused by the whole business, with many wondering if he has what it takes to be the main man. How unfair is that?

This brings me to Steve McMahon, our guest on Showtime this week. The first time I met him was in an interview in which he was tipped to be the next Liverpool manager. His Swindon team were top of the Championship and Roy Evans was struggling at Anfield. Suddenly the financial plug was pulled at Swindon and he left for Blackpool. With Liverpool tumbling out of the FA Cup To Reading on Wednesday the pressure has only increased on Rafa Benitez, yet McMahon won't get a mention in the list of people considered as a possible replacement. He hasn't become a bad manager overnight, has he? Instead it's been Gerard Houllier and Benitez at Anfield for the past 10 years. McMahon knows Liverpool inside out and, in my humble opinion, is 10 times a manager than either of them. OK then, 20 times. As it is we'll never find out how he would have done. I'll tell you something for definite though. If McMahon had been in charge, at least Liverpool would have played attractive football.

Eventually dropped for the third Test against Australia, I just loved wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal's excuse for the nightmare showing in the second Test that Pakistan lost from nowhere. Akmal dropped four catches, but said he'd been up all night minding his baby after his wife decided it was his turn for nappy duty.

This is not quite in the dog-ate-my-homework category of excuses, but still a scenario played out in households across the world. "You've been out with your mates again, when the baby wakes up, you're doing the bottle and nappys," says wife. "But I'm playing against the Aussies tomorrow, give me a break," says international cricketer. "No, I'm sick of it. It's always me. I don't care what you're doing tomorrow, you're up with the baby," comes the response.

No wonder Akbal had a torrid time, he probably spent all day wondering if he should do baby rice or rusks for tea. @Email:sports@thenational.ae

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