LMA hits back at Bernstein

  • Last Updated: January 3 2014, 18:17 GMT

A remarkable war of words has broken out over former Football Association chairman David Bernstein's claim that club bosses were setting a "terrible example" by their behaviour.

David Bernstein: Former FA chairman
David Bernstein: Former FA chairman

The League Managers' Association, backed by a number of Premier League bosses, has launched a fierce attack on Bernstein in response.

The LMA said Bernstein's comments were "misguided, unhelpful and inflammatory megaphone commentary from the side-lines" and that he failed to engage with the organisation during his time in office.

Bernstein had spoken out after being awarded the CBE in the New Year Honours, saying managers were harassing officials and were being too critical of referees after matches.

The LMA said in a statement: "We believe the comments are misguided, and unhelpful. It is important to recognise that managers in professional football contribute significantly to the success of the game both on and off the field.

"Having spent their lives dedicated to the game, they value it, are committed to seeing it continue to grow and to contribute to its future direction.

"It is particularly sad therefore, to find David Bernstein celebrating his CBE by engaging in a megaphone commentary from the side-lines, taking a unilateral swipe at managers, having wholly failed to engage, in any meaningful way, with the LMA and its members during his tenure as FA chairman."

In an interview with Press Association Sport on Monday, Bernstein had said managers need to take more responsibility for their behaviour and were setting "a terrible example for their players, let alone the general public".

The LMA responded saying: "Such a commentary is inflammatory, can only tend to bring the game into disrepute and further widens the gap between those that reputedly lead the game and those that find employment and build their careers within it."

It also questioned why Bernstein had not taken an active role in building a relationship with the managers' organisation, saying he failed to attend even one formal meeting.

"Had he engaged with the LMA, his leadership would have been rather more effective and focussed," said the statement.

"The LMA looks forward to an engaged and constructive dialogue with the new chairman of the FA, especially as David Bernstein failed to attend a single formal managers' meeting to discuss any such issues in the game or build any kind of meaningful relationship with our members."

The LMA said more than 70 managers have been sacked already this season and the job has "unique pressures".

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said he agreed with Bernstein - and that he too needed to improve.

Wenger said: "I go along with that [Bernstein's comments] and I have some work to so on that front as well."

Manchester United boss David Moyes attracted attention only this week for criticism of Howard Webb after his side's loss to Tottenham.

He thinks, though, that he and his counterparts are not culpable.

"I think managers are incredibly responsible," he said.

"The work the LMA do and what managers give back, the help they're trying to give the FA Commission, for example, I think that would be a wrong thing to say about the managers."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes, who was fined £8,000 this week for improper conduct, said he backed "every word" of the LMA's stance.

He said: "There's huge sways back and forth in terms of emotion and how the ebb and flow of the game affects you in terms of the desire you have to see fair play and make sure you're competing.

"Human nature is a thing that, on occasions, your emotions can get the better of you, and football managers aren't immune to that.

"We're very conscious, more than most, about our behaviour because there's manager cams and cameras from wide angles so you know the focus is on you from the first minute to the last."

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho said managers and referees had the toughest jobs in football.

He added: "I think if in isolated occasions managers they lose their emotional control and they have a certain behaviour that cannot be accepted by the authorities, in this case by the refs, I think we should be punished.

"But be punished in a way where people don't feel the managers are strange or weird or impolite people, or people without control.

"People must understand that the job is not easy."