Middlesbrough finished a point off the play-offs in the English Championship last season, which was not enough to save manager, Tony Pulis, from the sack. Pulis is an experienced hand with teams fighting relegation from the Premiership or looking for promotion to it, having worked at Stoke, Crystal Palace and West Brom.
A month after the sacking, Middlesbrough gave rookie, Jonathan Woodgate, the job, with former Celtic striker, Robbie Keane his assistant.
Football teams have a tendency to overcompensate for their last perceived mistakes when appointing a manager. Pulis was taken from a regular, if uninspiring, stock. They have not made that ‘mistake’ with Woodgate.
The former Real Madrid defender will bring colour and excitement to the Riverside, at least in the short-term, but his chances of out-performing Pulis next season are open to debate. Middlesbrough have the resources to attract managerial talent from most leagues in Europe or South America. While these territories have worked well for others seeking improvement in England, there are significant risks.
Like Sunderland, who appointed St Mirren manager, Jack Ross, a year ago, they could have looked to less-risky Scotland, but can you name an appropriate candidate who would be up for this one?
Appointing a rookie is a big roll of the dice, to be avoided if possible. But anyone who tells you appointing a sure-fire success is easy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. All you can hope to do is avoid sure-fire failures.