by Tony Attwood
The 75 or 80 people who marched around the Ems Stadium with their banners before the game yesterday blocking the way of some supporters who actually wanted to get into the stadium, looked thoroughly angry, and I must admit, I wondered why.
An estimated 100,000 people marched in London last month during a Unite for Europe demonstration against Brexit, but it hardly got a mention on the BBC and other news channel, and yet those 80 or so walking around the Ems will have day after day coverage for their message. They are getting their message across big time, and yet still they looked angry.
Indeed managerial replacements and supporter revolts (even when very tiny) always make the news, and there is a persistent belief (somewhat akin to the notion that leaving the European Union will make life better in the UK, or that religion x is better than religion y) that one particular change (changing the manager, leaving the EU or converting lots of people to a particular religion) will make a difference.
Thus they have the media with them, so what could be wrong?
The belief that changing the manager will make things better has been challenged a number of times in articles that examine exactly what happens after a manager goes, and ultimately resulted in a wonderful revolutionary approach being proposed by Goal magazine back in September 2014.
Goal noticed that “the existence of a short-term bounce a new coach can bring. In fact since the start of the 2008-09 season, 42 coaches placed in charge during the course of a Premier League season were responsible for a total of 57 more points in their first three matches than in the previous three games of the old coach.” In other words each club gained 1.3 points more on average in the first three games of the new man, against the last three games of the old man.
Unfortunately those are about the most expensive 1.3 points you could have when the pay off of the sacked coach and staff is taken into account. But still, clubs have money, so no worries.
Worse, as Goal went on to say, “It does not take long for the new man’s sheen to wear off though and often teams are back where they were after only a few games.” So they came up with a revolutionary idea: “…if that bounce could be replicated over and over throughout a season, then there is no doubt teams would be better off. It would take a revolutionary step. Bring in a new manager every three weeks.
Now that would put quite a strain on the protesters who would have to put on their angry faces and make up new banners every three weeks. AST would also have to run a new “survey” something like 13 times a year. But it could make a good spectacle, and keep the old hacks down the pub happy running the same story over and over without having to do any work.
However Professor Goddard also showed that the new manager bounce is merely just the club getting back to its normal position after a poor run of results – it doesn’t actually result in a real improvement and move up the table over time. It can do of course – Arsene Wenger showed that, for after coming 10th, 4th, 12th and 5th over the four seasons before he arrived, he changed the scenario at Arsenal for good. But that is an exception.
And the reason for what normally happens, according to those who studied the figures, was that “dismissals usually follow a poor run of results – but those defeats are often down to random bad luck, injuries and a tough run of fixtures, which tend to even out. And when they do, those frustrating defeats and draws suddenly become wins.”
Interestingly that quoted paragraph above comes from the Guardian’s report on the matter. Funny how the news hasn’t spread among its reporters when watching Arsenal.
The average tenure of a sacked Premier League manager at the time of the Goal study was about 1.2 years. Around the same time the League Managers Association noted that over half of the managers in the 92 league clubs had been in their jobs for under a year.
Part of the problem with appointing a new manager is the rabid anti-foreigner approach of such fanatics as Paul Merson and Phil Thompson who carry on the rampant “British is best” vision of Lawrie McMenemy – the notion that foreigners don’t know about English football. Tony Adams had the same reaction when Arsene Wenger came to Arsenal, although I wonder if the football loving public of Azerbaijan questioned what Mr Adams knew about Azerbaijani football, what with him being English.
John Goddard, Professor of Financial Economics at Bangor University has recently suggested that non-British managers do better than British managers in the Premier League, having an average league points total per game of 1.66 against 1.29. That is a 14 point improvement in a season. It is a lower advantage in the Football League (wherein Irish managers are included with the British managers) where the really foreign foreigners get a six point improvement in the season. But still they do better.
In Professor Goddard’s survey British and Irish managers also do worse than the foreigners who follow them. But… foreign managers tend to last for less time in England.
Now I suggested above that although the failure of replacing a manager as a method of improving a club is quite clear, the desire of people like the aaa and their camp followers in the media, to push for change is stronger than ever.
But as the company “21st Club” whose motto is, “We exist to help football clubs achieve competitive edge and build sustainable success” says, “Our minds are programmed to make us feel that familiarity with any task is important. Experience feels safe. Yet the data tells us that, at least in football, having previous knowledge of the league is often overvalued. In other words: football is guilty of what we call ‘experience-bias’.”
And overall that’s the problem. All the things we tend to believe, largely because the media tells us, turn out to be untrue. Changing managers, bringing in someone with knowledge of the league… there are no simple answers anywhere.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
Ongoing: The series on Arsenal in the 1930s is complete and the first six articles in the series have now been completely revised and updated including new pictures from the first Racing Club v Arsenal match.
Arsenal History Books on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without. For full details please see here.
Both books are also available as paperbacks. Please see here.