seven stages of being a football managerManagers have yet again been in the news this week with some high-profile sackings and lots of speculation about others’ positions. So on this week’s main listening report we take a look back at one of our older reports – this one is from the 2008-09 season – in order to look at some of the language used to describe the role of the football manager. There is also a chance to practice your listening with a gap-fill (below). With the transcript you can improve your English by reading as you listen, or if you are a teacher of English you can use the transcript to make several activities for your learners. If you have questions or comments, email us at: (Damian=DF).

Football Language Podcast: The seven stages of being a football manager – revisited


‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players’ is taken from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It in which the seven stages of man are introduced. Here though, and with apologies to the ‘The Bard’, are the seven stages of being a football manager.

Stage 1: Managerial merry-go-round

Getting a job as a football manager is not such an easy prospect; as it seems that the same old faces are always involved. This is known as the managerial merry-go-round with bosses never really leaving football but seemingly just swapping jobs. Therefore, getting onto this merry-go-round is your first priority and to do so you need to read the job advertisements in the newspapers. Or more specifically, the football gossip on the back pages.

Stage 2: Applying for a job

Of course you need to send in a CV but before you do that you need to be linked with the post or become a target for the club. If you see your name written with these phrases then you can improve your job chances by expressing an interest in the position.

Stage 3: Appointed

Congratulations, you have been appointed as first team coach, or manager, or trainer or gaffer or whatever, you have the job. You have succeeded the previous incumbent and finally you can lead the team. You are in charge. Don’t forget to sign a contract and make sure there is a pay-out clause, just in case things don’t go as planned. You’ve made it. Well done. You’re on the managerial merry-go-round.

Stage 4: Being in charge

Now you are in charge what do you have to do? Well, you’re responsible for all sorts of jobs, including choosing the tactics, selecting the starting xi, buying and selling players in the transfer market, dealing with agents, the media and your chairman and of course, keeping an eye out for a new job. Invariably the start of your tenure is a good one as players try harder and a sense of hope surrounds the club and this leads to what is known as a honeymoon period when results improve and everyone loves you (See also new manager bounce).

Stage 5: Trouble ahead

But then results don’t go your way and your name is on the back pages of the papers again, but this time with a picture of you looking upset. Speculation is rife and rumours abound as others on the merry-go-round sense an opportunity. You meet the owners for crisis talks as there are suggestions that you have lost the dressing room, – the players have little or no respect for you – and then, before you know it, you have become a dead man walking.

Stage 6. Good bye

And then just as you are getting used to the hot seat, you have to go. You are out of a job – sacked, fired, dismissed, left by mutual consent. You have got the boot for poor results and you are paying the price. But you’re not really as you receive a multi-million pound pay out in compensation.

Stage 7. Round again

You decide to take a break from the game but you do not rule out a return at some stage in the future. And then suddenly your name is back in the frame for another post. Initially, you distance yourself from it, dismissing it as mere speculation. But you miss the cut and thrust of the day-to-day challenges of the Premier League and you feel you cannot turn down the opportunity of managing once again. And before you know it, you’re on the merry-go-round once more.

Football vocabulary and phrases used in this week’s listening report

  • ‘The Bard’: A nickname for Shakespeare
  • managerial merry-go-round: When the same managers move from job to job
  • swapping jobs: To change jobs
  • to be linked with the post: To have a chance of the job
  • expressing an interest in the position: To show enthusiasm for the job
  • gaffer: The boss (players use this when speaking about their boss)
  • incumbent: The previous person who held the post
  • pay-out clause: Part of the contract – payment received when sacked
  • tenure: The time you are in the job
  • a honeymoon period: positive time soon after arriving at the club (See also new manager bounce)
  • Speculation is rife: Many people think that something could happen (rife=widespread)
  • rumours abound: There were many rumours
  • have lost the dressing room: Lost the respect of the players
  • a dead man walking: Everyone thinks that the manager will be fired
  • the hot seat: The manager’s job
  • left by mutual consent: Both parties agree to end the contract
  • got the boot: To be fired
  • is back in the frame: Have another chance of a job
  • distance yourself from it: To say you do not want the job
  • mere speculation: Only gossip
  • the cut and thrust: The excitement

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and if you have any suggestions, contact us at

Related Links

Vocabulary Check: Gap-fill

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2013-14Episode 665