Johnny Cantor: For all the gesticulating and gesturing, managers can quickly be under pressure

I'm often asked who I listened to on the radio as a youngster and who brought football to life as I hid my head under the pillow with an earplug rammed into my ear hoping my mum wouldn't catch on.

Thursday, 19th October 2017, 8:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 5:17 am
Everton boss Ronald Koeman. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

For me it was Peter Jones (yes, I am that old!). His voice was so distinctive and captured the moment so well. Nowadays there are many great commentators and it may be my journalist’s mind but I still analyse various voices to see if I can learn more as well as enjoy the game.

The other evening I listened to one describe a manager attempting to get his point across to his team with the action of ‘squeezing a sandwich’ with his hands. Perfect, I knew exactly what he meant. The manager wanted his team to be tight.

We see all sorts on the touchlines nowadays, the passionate, the exasperated, the pensive, the disconsolate. The Premier League certainly has an array of different characters in the technical area and they all have their own separate body language.

I still wonder whether some of it is for the cameras rather than the players, though. Many a former player has told me how they prefer playing on the opposite side to their boss so they aren’t bombarded with advice or criticism! Of course, the managers can only do so much gesticulating and gesturing, the players must also deliver on the pitch for their bosses to remain in their position.

This week Leicester City became the second top-flight club to dispose of their manager. The Foxes are two points away from safety but above them are nine teams separated by just three points. It’s as tight as that sandwich.

I’ve heard a few Leicester fans saying Craig Shakespeare had lost the players. I don’t know whether that is true but sometimes you get a feel that things are not well.

Several other managers are under pressure at the moment. Slaven Bilic at West Ham seems to be put under more pressure by his board than the fans, Ronald Koeman remains under the spotlight at Everton and there are a few rumblings at St Mary’s as Southampton still fail to impress at home.

Things are somewhat different for newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield, who both have managers that have bought valuable time with their achievements so far.

From the outside, the key to success for Chris Hughton and David Wagner has been organisation and an ability to communicate their strategy to the players. If they then fail to adhere to it they will join the boss in the dugout. Wagner is an ebullient character, similar to his friend Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. Hughton is more reserved but just as determined and keen for success.

Can they both preserve their Premier League status? Only time will tell but both men have established a solid platform for the future. They both have resolute, organised sides with managers who are able to get the message across in one way or another. Just like commentators, they have different ways and means – but all have the same aim.

Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport. Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger

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