5.2.09

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ALAN McMANUS?

All through the 1990s, Alan McManus was rightly considered to be one of the toughest players on the circuit.

In the early part of the decade, he was widely seen as a potential world champion. None of his contemporaries would argue that he was a talented matchplayer.

Yet for all this, he only won three major titles and is now 38th in the provisional rankings and very much at a career crossroads.

History tells us that once an established player starts to slide down the rankings they invariably keep on going.

McManus plays Stuart Pettman in the penultimate qualifying round of the Welsh Open today.

If he loses (and Pettman beat him at the same stage of the China Open last month), the Scot has only the World Championship to look forward to this season.

So what went wrong? Well, obviously, nobody goes on forever. Snooker is not a physical sport but decline tends to begin when a player is in their mid 30s.

Some stave it off for a while. All succumb in the end.

At his best, McManus was a fine player and made an impressive start to his professional career. He joined the circuit in 1990 and beat Jimmy White en route to the semi-finals of the UK Championship in his first season.

He also won the qualifying event for the Masters (the first year this was staged), beating James Wattana in the final.

He beat Willie Thorne in the first round at the Crucible and ran Terry Griffiths to 13-12 in the second.

The following season, McManus reached the Asian Open final in Bangkok, losing to Steve Davis, was a semi-finalist in the World Championship and Grand Prix and a quarter-finalist in the Mercantile Classic.

All this elevated him to the elite top 16 after only two seasons, which is some feat, emulated two years later by Ronnie O’Sullivan but by nobody since.

He was clearly good enough to win major titles, including the World Championship, and reached four finals in his third season on the tour but did not win any of them.

He also reached a second successive Crucible semi-final where he and Stephen Hendry were brought into the arena by a bagpiper. Hendry won 16-8.

McManus lost in two more finals the following season until his greatest moment, ending Hendry’s 23-match unbeaten run at the Wembley Masters with a 9-8 defeat in the final.

After a few false starts, he had arrived in the winners’ enclosure. Later that year he beat Peter Ebdon to win the Dubai Classic. He 1996 he defeated Ken Doherty to win the Thailand Open.
He was sixth in the world rankings but never rose higher and he never won another major title.

And although Alan’s career has been better than most, I wonder if he sometimes looks back at some missed opportunities.

Consider this: he has appeared in 49 ranking event quarter-finals and 26 semi-finals but only ten finals, from which he’s won two titles.

This is not a great conversion rate, although it is fair to point out that matches get tougher the longer a tournament goes on.

McManus has always had a philosophical attitude towards victory and defeat. It’s not always easy to discern whether he’s won or lost.

He is a somewhat inscrutable character, which helps in sport to a degree because he doesn’t show his opponents what he’s thinking, but I’m sure his various close defeats have hurt, most particularly in recent years where he has struggled for the form of old.

I did some commentary with Alan for British Eurosport and he is very perceptive and has an interesting insight into shot selection. They don’t call him ‘Angles’ for nothing.

I think he’d make a good coach, although, of course, he wants to remain a player for as long as he can.

McManus is now 38. His best years are therefore behind him but I often think of great players that if they can get a bit of confidence from somewhere a resurgence in form would not be out of the question.

Chilly Prestatyn today would be as good a place to start as any.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

He's a great player and a gentlemen. I hope he keeps going for a while. He doesn't deserve to end up partnering Willie Thorne at the BBC........

Anonymous said...

They didn't call him 'Angles' at all until the BBC thought it would be 'cool' for every player to have a nickname!

Anonymous said...

History tells us that once an established player starts to slide down the rankings they invariably keep on going."

Thats not true. Maybe its often true, but definately not invariably true. Look at Steve Davis - rebounded twice, Mark Williams, Joe Swail, Dave Harold, even Jimmy White who was almost relegated last year. I'm sure Graham Dott will be joing the list too.

But then you contradicts yourself at the end of the article

"I often think of great players that if they can get a bit of confidence from somewhere a resurgence in form would not be out of the question."

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with the 3rd post.

Hard job to find something to write about day after day after day...

Usually, when there's nothing left to talk or write about, commentators and bloggers can always talk or write about Ronnie...

jamie said...

Although he is not a great player only a very good one that I think maximised his ability. He was consistent like Tim Henman but always found someone just too good at the latter stages. You are only a great player if you stood out from the crowd with your acheivments.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the rollerscating held him back a bit.

Dave H said...

I didn't contradict myself.

I said a resurgence could happen. I didn't say it would.

And most established players do carry on down the rankings once they start: Dennis Taylor, Joe Johnson, John Spencer, Ray Reardon, Tony Knowles, Mike Hallett, Tony Meo to name but, er, seven.

Anonymous said...

out of respect, i will let you have the last word on that. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think angles McManus's problem is that his cue cost him £5 from Argos.
Seriously though, decent guy who still plays to a good level.

Anonymous said...

Has he still got that bit of yellow tape on his cue?

James Bielby said...

Meo is a bad example. He was slipping down the rankings and about to be relegated from the 32 when he went to the 1989 British Open, which he won, a month before he reached the semis at the Crucible.
From that point he declined quickly but he managed to stop the slide in spectular fashion.
Knowles as well got back into the 16 after relegation.
Plenty of other examples to back up your point though. Wattana is one who springs to mind.

Nico said...

You'll never come back at this age

jamie said...

Still can't log on to podcast, no need to respond dave as you have given the advice you can, but its frustrating.

Dave H said...

I'm pretty sure Tony Knowles didn't get back into the top 16 after dropping out.

Anyway, I was referring to players in the same plight as McManus - outside the top 32.

Only two players have ever got back into the top 16 after dropping out of the top 32 - Rex Williams and Joe Swail, so my point stands.

Janie - GSC said...

totally off topic but nowhere else to put it!

All latest Welsh scores are LIVE on GSC - pending how long it's taking me to run up and down the stairs as the socring is down.

Jamie Burnett had made 3 consecutive centuries, including, in the third frame, missing the last red on 112, trying for a max. he was unlucky to land smack on the pink and had to cue down on the white and the red just edged round the middle bag but didn't drop.
Wenbo has also had a century this afternoon

jamie said...

Have finally got on to the podcast its pretty good. I would liked to have heard his views on other players. Plus it was a little drybut Everton as ever was articulate and eloquent.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the off topic, but the scoring system at Pontins must be from the 1970s. It fails at least once a tournament. If any commercial oraganisation had that quality of IT they'd be bust in a month.

Thanks for your efforts Janie, they are appreciated.

John

Anonymous said...

so, where were we? qualifiers, no, erm podcasts, no, erm alan. yes he has been a very good and consistant player for many a year. well liked too. nice guy and one of the best players in 'our sport' over the last 2 decades.

James Bielby said...

Your point is a good one. I was just saying that Meo was a rare player who managed to stem the decline, albeit temporarily.
And TK did get back in. 22 in 1990-91, 16 in 1991-2.

Dave H said...

James you're right, I've looked it up

Of course, Knowlsie has entered the World Championship again this year

Claus Christensen said...

Nice article. It's been a while since I've spotted Alan McManus on the telly. I love the comeback stories and he's a good candidate. Somebody should look into why the potting suffers when players age. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

McManus had a weird kink in his cue action which involved raising his head slightly before he pushed the cue through. Could this unorthodox style have been a weakness that caused him to suffer at crucial moments in semi-finals and finals and also contribute to his decline? did he ever try to change his action? Clive made interesting points on the podcast about Steve Davis refining and correcting technique to keep himself competitive over the years.

Anonymous said...

A great player - and has always come across as a gentleman. Deserves the excellent living he has made from the game.

Anonymous said...

I think the world of snooker should be eternally grateful to Alan McManus for introducing the professional game to his uncle, Jim McMahon, one of the truly great thinkers and legislators ever to grace the sport of snooker.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I think the world of snooker should be eternally grateful to Alan McManus for introducing the professional game to his uncle, Jim McMahon, one of the truly great thinkers and legislators ever to grace the sport of snooker.


BU-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA

Classic !

Anonymous said...

re head movement

similar to marco fu at times

Anonymous said...

i dont think many got the Jim "joke" ;)

Anonymous said...

"All this elevated him to the elite top 16 after only two seasons, which is some feat, emulated two years later by Ronnie O’Sullivan but by nobody since."

I think Marco Fu also done that in 2000.

Dave H said...

Fu played in the 1998 World Championship so it wasn't technically two seasons to reach the top 16

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

I think the world of snooker should be eternally grateful to Alan McManus for introducing the professional game to his uncle, Jim McMahon, one of the truly great thinkers and legislators ever to grace the sport of snooker."

Indeed. I heard 'Uncle Jim' was close to getting the top job for London 2012 but said he was doing something just after eight.

Anonymous said...

He has a new official website at www.alanmcmanus.com, although I don't know how often he updates it as it seems to lack recent content.

Anonymous said...

alan should and would have been a world champion if he had the right management in place!you look at his record in qualifying at the norbreck blackpool,and to make the progress he made in the game as a rookie pro was just phenomenal!beating jimmy white world no2 at the time in uk champs,and was unlucky to lose to hendry word no1 in semis,hendry had to play out of his skin to beat alan! something went badly wrong !

Anonymous said...

i think you have to look at what he was doing (right) on and off the table during that period of his meteoric rise in the game, it baffles me what went wrong,he should have been a legend in the sport!i have a feeling that it was off table bad management that stopped him from achieving his dreams,he certainly had the game for it!WHAT WENT WRONG!

Anonymous said...

We all wonder in scotland why he never became a world champion but i think it was more personnel than professional the woman he married really done him over and it dented his confidence at a crucial time. He would have beat stephen hendry but he won as the world cup so we have him to thank for that