Following a bad start to their season, Bristol Academy have sacked their manager Dave Edmondson.
Although the rationale behind his sacking is logical, we can wonder why this is happening now.
If we look at the current form LLLLLL is obviously a big problem:
Out of the Champions League after being beaten 12-0 on aggregate by Frankfurt, out the FA Cup beaten by WSL 2 side Everton, and bottom of the FA WSL1 with three defeats in three games, one goal scored, and eight goals conceded, it’s bad by anyone’s standards.
I believe managers should be responsible for maximising the performances from the squad at their disposal.
Has he been doing well enough so far?
Obviously finishing seventh a year after being runner-up was not good enough in 2014 but the decision to pull the trigger could have been taken at the end of last season.
Is he paying for a bad recruitment campaign during the winter transfer window?
There was a strong imbalance between those who left the club and those who arrived. There is no doubt that many players left the club for better training conditions and sometimes a bigger paycheck. Some players might also have left because they did not get on with the manager. If the recruitment was 100% in the hands of the manager then the board have a case.
The question that always comes to mind when a manager is sacked, though, is has the manager lost the dressing room? If the answer is yes, well it was a logical choice to replace him. If the answer was no, well….
The team’s quality of play is another question.
People have moaned that Bristol got hammered five and seven by Frankfurt in the Champions League but Brondby, who are not rubbish, have also lost by seven to the German team.
There is no doubt that his attempt to depart from the previous style installed by Mark Sampson did not really bear fruit. To change from a counter-attacking playing style to a possession-based one is not easy and also requires players with certain technical qualities.
I believe Mark Sampson certainly used the tactic to make the best use of his players strengths. Some curent players do not fit with the possession-based style for obvious reasons.
Ultimately, the bad results led the board to remove the manager but they have to take responsibility as well. I believe the current business plan does not fit the ambitions of the FA WSL1 but rather that of a FA WSL2 team. That plan was well suited to the 2011-13 years when the teams were all semi-professional, training twice or thrice a week. But things have changed under Liverpool’s impulse back in 2013.
In the last two seasons teams have moved to more professional settings, training five times a week in the morning for the full-time teams to five times a week in the evening for the other sides. If you are on two or three evenings a week, you have a competitive disadvantage. Not to mention the invisible preparation: resting time, access to cryotherapy etc.
Teams business models in the FA WSL have moved on. Some teams are on version 2.1 2.3 or even 3.0 for Manchester City while Bristol are probably still on 1.2. All those parameters were clearly showing in pre-season that Bristol would compete for the seventh place, at best, in normal circumstances.
There is no doubt that whoever comes in will have his/her work cut out for them. If the board want short-term results they need to keep the in-demand players and sign at least three or four new ones.
On a side note, Everton Ladies suffered the same problem as Bristol in the 2014 season.
They went down without a League win. The manager is still around and rebuilding the side trying to win promotion to FA WSL 1.