- The league table for the last 16 games, has a few interesting surprises to offer
- The referee problem: the difference between incompetence and bias
By Tony Attwood
Two newspapers in England have recently looked at the issue of sacking football managers. One uses one set of data to say that when there’s a problem clubs should act quickly to sack the manager, the other uses data to conclude that sacking the manager doesn’t tend to change much.
Neither newspaper mentions the research of the other and each simply draws on its own set of figures.
And this is the problem that football has. Take some data, reach a conclusion, claim your right.
On 28 Nov 2019 Emery was sacked. Arsenal were 8th in the league with 1.38 points per game. Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were both below Arsenal in the league. At the end of the season Arsenal were… 8th.
Then on 26 September 2021 Team Talk ran the headline “Two big names mentioned as Arsenal told to sack Arteta in bid to attract top players”. Arsenal were 10th in the league with 1.5 points per game. Manchester United and Tottenham were just below Arsenal.
That sort of talk was common and continued. The Mirror ran Piers Morgan demands Mikel Arteta is sacked after latest Arsenal failure on 17 May 2022. Arsenal were 5th in the league with 1.78 points per game. Manchester United were eight points behind Arsenal.
I think most of us would be rather pleased that the raging maniacs in the newspapers did not persuade Arsenal to change their manager again, and indeed it was clear that the board at Arsenal were reading the same set of tables as Untold Arsenal readers in 2020/1 as Arsenal became the second best team in the league in the last two thirds of that season.
Thus Arsenal resisted another change in 2021/2 despite the fanatics in the media world demanding one. But the mood in football is still to change the manager if there is a problem and so far this season nine managers have departed their clubs – only one (as far as I understand the situation) resigned to go elsewhere. That was Graham Potter. Chelsea are still four places lower than when Tuchel left.
Here’s what has happend so far in the managerial sack race…
|Pos on sacking
And I mention all this today because of a piece in the Guardian headlined, Montpellier, Reims, Nice and Auxerre reacted quickly when their coaches were failing, but Strasbourg dithered
It opens with the highly contentious claim that “Football clubs are often indecisive when the stakes are high. Too often they dither over transfers, dropping players who have lost form, or dismissing managers.”
It is a bold statement and is presented with absolutely no evidence to support it. Indeed looking at the table above with nine clubs out of 20 in the PL changing managers (only one involuntarily) suggests exactly the opposite.
Indeed the article contradicts itself saying, “Eleven bosses have lost their jobs since the start of the campaign. In October alone, five clubs sacked managers – Lyon, Auxerre, Brest, Reims and Montpellier – mostly due to concerns about relegation. Montpellier are on their third manager of the season…”
In fact even the author admits that sacking a manager doesn’t always work, noting, “Will Still at Reims and Didier Digard at Nice have brought the best from expensive squads that were underachieving. For others, such as Brest and Troyes, little has changed…”
So that’s the Guardian’s take. But the Telegraph at the same time heads in the opposite direction noting The stats which could save David Moyes, Graham Potter and Brendan Rodgers from the sack.
They find another statistic: “37 managers, across the 92 clubs in the top four tiers, have already been dismissed so far in 2022/23,” and conclude that “In the short-term, sacking a manager normally works: a team’s results tend to improve under a new coach. Only, this isn’t because a new boss motivates the players better, or transforms their tactics. When a side is struggling their luck tends to have bottomed out – and the manager is sacked. Under a new manager, they cease to be so unlucky.”
Indeed analyses by 21st Club, show “the points earned by teams in the big five European leagues in the eight games before and after sacking a manager this season. They do a bit better, but not for long.” They also quote an analysis of 15 years of Premier League clubs that suffer a bad run. Whether the clubs changed managers or not things improved: “Sackng the boss made no difference to how a club subsequently performed.”
Remember when Everton hired Silva in 2018 and he took them up to eighth? After 15 games in the next season, he was sacked. In the long term, nothing got any better: he’d just had an unlucky run.
And sacking the manager costs money. Antonio Conte leaving Chelsea a year after winning the Premier League “cost the club £26 million.”
Consider also Tottenham. Six months after reaching the Champions League final, Mauricio Pochettino was booted out. And now?
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