By Tony Attwood
Here’s an interesting question: what happens when a Premier League club replaces its manager?
It is an interesting question because it is one that the AAA by-passes whenever it does its anti-Wengerian rhetoric. It just says, “Wenger out!” and cites all the things that it says are wrong. In essence the argument is “we should be doing better than this” and from there make the leap to getting rid of Wenger. Sometimes the statements and demands are taken further to incorporate the removal of the board, but the actual argument rarely if ever goes further.
So it is worth asking – what happens when the manager of a Premier League club goes? Do they automatically turn things round and rise up higher?
If you are a regular reader of Untold, you might know that each time Tottenham replace a manager we take a good look at the situation, list all the managers that the club have had and do a bit of collective head-shaking. Indeed this last time around we were even so bold as to nominate the day each season when a Tottenham manager is sacked as St Daniel’s day, named in honour of Mr Leavy.
In Tottenham’s case, self-evidently, replacing the manager doesn’t work. But are Tottenham the exception? Does it work for every other club, but just not Tottenham?
Now we can begin to get a picture because sports scientists at Sheffield Hallam University have been working the figures over the past 10 years of Premier League dismissals. 36 clubs have been analysed and 60 managerial changes looked into in the report. ‘You don’t know what you’re doing! The impact of managerial change on club performance in the English Premier League’ researchers looked at data from 2003/4 to 2012/2013.
But for the elite going for the championship itself or trying for a top four finish, their findings are ‘managerial change is inadvisable’. This is because such a change causes instability, offers no guarantee of improvement, generally costs lots and lots of money in compensation, and just makes you look stupid. (Actually I added the last bit about making you look stupid, so ignore that if you want a serious academic analysis, but the other bits come from the report).
Certainly these figures are born out by the examples we can recall at once. Tottenham didn’t rise up and conquer the top four each time they sacked someone. Indeed when they sacked Arry – the one person who could get them into the Champs League, they then immediately sank down.
When the all-fighting Mr Moyes left Man U they were 7th. When the Giggsy who “had all the look of being a successful Premier League manager” after one match, finally stopped being manager, they were… 7th.
The researchers suggested the same pattern could be seen when Chelsea dismissed Jose Mourinho in 2007 and Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2009. But for lower clubs, it might be worth a risk as a way of trying to avoid relegation. It doesn’t always work however. As Norwich found. And Fulham.
The report shows that although clubs earn more points after changing managers – clubs in the top half of the league do no better.
Dr Stuart Flint, a lecturer in exercise psychology at Sheffield Hallam said, “The main findings of this study were that managerial changes led to an increase in points per match but did not necessarily lead to an improvement in final league position.”
So, why do clubs sack managers?
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