Media: Perspective - Manning is right to tinker but changes must count for OMD

Arsenal fans don't like it, but as their manager, Arsene Wenger, comes increasingly to resemble the lovable French bungler Monsieur Hulot (without the lovable bit), Chelsea are becoming the new kings of London football.

Obviously, though, it doesn't count when Chelsea win anything, because they've undermined the Corinthian spirit of football by spending lots of money to do so.

You could say the same of the media networks, the ones owned by the Omnicoms and WPPs of this world, except that, locally at least, they're not lavishing as much cash on expensive talent.

Last week, news came of a restructure at OMD UK, the larger of the two agencies that form the OMD group. Out went the executive strategy director, Mark Palmer, while Jonathan Allan was promoted to deputy managing director.

The managing director, Steve Williams, also restructured the agency around the heads of each discipline.

It would be tempting to see Nick Manning, the OMD group chief executive, as a "tinkerman" making ill-judged changes in the vein of the former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri, but his latest tinkerings seem necessary.

Manning is emerging as a chief executive who is unafraid to make tough calls. Last year, he lanced the boil at Manning Gottlieb OMD by appointing a new management triumvirate to replace the managing director, Alison Wright.

Palmer's departure also has its advantages. An undoubted talent, but a man so opinionated he could make a shy Buddhist want to kneecap him within half-an-hour, he didn't always seem to see eye to eye with Manning.

Allan, earmarked as one for the future, is lauded for his "style" and "charisma" by colleagues who believe he can help the former BMP OMD return to a golden age.

Of course, there are tensions within this argument. Critics say the OMD UK agency and the wider group has lacked new-business resource (Manning would argue this has been addressed with the appointment of Sam Phillips from IPC Connect as group marketing director). Also, the critics say that the rising stars (Allan, Palmer's replacement Toby Roberts, and the likes of Phil Nunn at MG OMD) will struggle to burn as brightly as former OMD greats such as Ivan Pollard, Derek Morris and the Manning/Gottlieb pairing.

The largest problem, though, is a perceived confusion surrounding the OMD offering - the distinctions between the agencies and the ways in which shared group resources are run. Manning has been reported recently as ruling out a full merger between the two agencies, so it is vital that their strengths are harnessed in the right way. Not until then will all the tinkering have been worthwhile.