Why Wenger and Ferguson could only happen in the Premier League

By Tony Attwood

That was a fine roll out by our second XI I thought, and there are several players there who are obviously making their way solidly towards the first XI.  Joe Willock stands out for me but is certainly not the only one.

And while I am not a fan of the Europa League with these easy games in the group stages, these six games are certainly giving the manager a chance to see what the younger players do in real-life games, and for the players to feel they have a chance of playing and progressing.   Self-evidently we need back up players for those who are injured, and having a squad that goes beyond the 25, and includes a number of under 21s with match experience is obviously excellent news.

So here we are in group B with a growing goal difference in our favour just in case anything should go amiss (which I can’t really see at this stage), although as we know it has happened in the past

P W D L F A GD Pts


3 3 0 0 9 2 7 9

Molde FK

3 2 0 1 4 5 -1 6

SK Rapid Wien

3 1 0 2 5 6 -1 3


3 0 0 3 4 9 -5 0

Only four teams in the Europa have managed a 100% record thus far: ourselves, Hoffenheim, Villareal, Leicester and ourselves.

Of course there is another side to the story, provided by the Guardian… a sloppy opening period, a shortage of invention, poor positioning, lethargy, producing little, Leno slow to react…  it is the usual, as usual, and not the game I saw.

One might assume of course that with constant harping on about managerial ineptitude the Premier League would have the highest turnover of managers among the major leagues, but fortunately it seems that quite a few clubs in the Premier League don’t read or watch the media any more as they become increasingly removed from reality, screening out all the news that does not fit.

Vyom Chaudhary of runrepeat.com – who were so helpful in our recent analysis concerning the way refereeing is changing across Europe, shows that with managers, as with so much else in football, the Premier League is different from the rest.   For they have shown that the PL is the safest league to be in if you are a manager.

Indeed the key findings in their study is that compared to other leagues the PL is like a rest home for managers.  In Italy for example, the average Serie A manager is not expected to last an entire season with an average of 35.1 league games.  Indeed in the past ten years 44 managerial appointments have lasted for fewer than ten games!  The average spell for a Premier League manager turns out to be 69.4 league games.

What they also find is something we’ve observed in the past (without having access to the figures, just from general observation): that “relegation-threatened mid-season changes usually end in failures with a success rate of 35.5% and 39.7% in Serie A and La Liga respectively.”

In the Premier League a manager lasts for 69.4 league games on average. But of course the data is affected by Arsene Wenger who managed 1033 games and Alex Ferguson who managed 828 league games.  If we take these two managers out of the stats then the Premier League would fall behind Ligue 1 for the average number of games managed.

There is another interesting difference: in Ligue 1 “clubs prefer to change managers either after the conclusion of football seasons or following the conclusion of managers’ contracts.”  That certainly saves them money.

Across the leagues the percentage of managers who are sacked rather than resign or retire is between 61.4% and 65.7%, except for Ligue 1 where only 42% of departing managers were sacked. 17.3% go at the end of their contracts and 20% resign.

For the Premier League the prime time for sacking is December – possibly a reflection on the traditional pile up of fixtures at that time with a desire to get better results across the busy period leading to a sacking at the start of the month, or a disastrous spell of results around Xmas giving a later departure.  In both cases the new man (and it is always a new man, not a woman), is brought in with the promise of funds for the January transfer window.

Although you’d never guess it from our media, “Premier League sides are comparatively patient with their managers and refrain from making mid-season changes,” the report says.  A complete contrast with Serie A where “relegation-threatened clubs often make multiple managerial changes in a single season.”

Many thanks to runrepeat.com for another terrific set of analyses.

6 Replies to “Why Wenger and Ferguson could only happen in the Premier League”

  1. Having watched the game last night I have to give credit to BT Sport. They are extremely consistent. As with the game against Dundalk, they managed to talk up our opponents and downplay anything positive that we did at every opportunity. Not until towards the end when it was quite clear that we had achieved a solid win did they then start to talk as if that was what they’d expected all along.

    I also noted on the BBC that Kane got all the headlines for yesterday when the real question in my mind was why the hell did they think they had to play Kane whilst we were happy to put out, essentially, a second eleven and achieve a solid win. Hey ho.

  2. The media support for Kane is quite easily explained.

    He is simply the greatest player in world history and has now scored 2000 goals.

    (must be true, it was stated by D.Trump)

  3. One thing that makes the difference between English and Italian clubs is the way their clubs work in general.

    The Italian clubs, especially the Southern ones, are usually owned by owners who make knee-jerk decisions. One of the biggest culprits Palermo have started their new life since 2019 (not unusual in Italy – Fiorentina and Parma went through the same rebirth and that’s a topic Tony might find interesting to write about). Their ex-owner Maurizio Zamparini had made 42 (!) managerial changes between 2002 and June 2018.

    Now, we have the Pozzo family owning clubs in Italy (Udinese), Spain (Granada) and England (Watford). The managerial merry-go-round at Watford hurts the average managerial period in England a lot even when the same manager gets appointed, sacked and, a few managerial changes later, reappointed as a manager.

    Also, it would be interesting to check the managerial wage and contract clauses regarding severance in Italy and England as another reason for more sackings in Italy. I reckon that a manager in England has a bigger wage than his Italian counterpart thus making the severance in England more expensive for a club that wants to sack their gaffer.

    As for long-term appointments, let’s not forget Guy Roux who had been in charge of Auxerre for over 40 years.

  4. “And while I am not a fan of the Europa League with these easy games in the group stages, these six games are certainly giving the manager a chance to see what the younger players do in real-life games, and for the players to feel they have a chance of playing and progressing.”

    But this is exactly what we were saying when it looked like we were going to qualify for what can be the disrupting Thursday night football. If used in the way it is it can be as you say, just what the fringe players need, for many reasons. Returning from injury. Getting match time. Pushing the Premier league squad. Youth players getting more and more experience.

    Yes it can get in the way if we end up needing what are essentially PL players doubling up, which can happen if we get in trouble in matches, in the group, or in the later stages, but overall I think the pros far out way the cons.

    “Of course there is another side to the story, provided by the Guardian… a sloppy opening period, a shortage of invention, poor positioning, lethargy, producing little, Leno slow to react… it is the usual, as usual, and not the game I saw.”

    Me either. That being said, as I pointed out last night, even Arsenal.com didn’t stop whinging. No the first half wasn’t perfect, but as far as I could see we were far superior, and apart from that elusive final ball could of been 2 or 3 to the good by half time. Okay at the back we gave away one sloppy chance, but lets be honest it was still a very well taken goal. Sometimes you just have to put your hands up. Apart from that they created nothing of note for the entire half, well match in fact.

    As for Kane, this is just the usual media bigging up of anything Tottenham related. I didn’t read it myself but one of our regulars pointed out that the media are now bigging up Kane and Son to the extent that they are better than Messi and Ronaldo.

    For around the last 10 to 15 years a power shift was always around the corner or yet another player assessment made that showed no Arsenal players would get in to the Spurs team, yet it is Arsenal that have won 4 trophies and Spurs zero over the period.

    So honestly do I care how much they ‘big up’ Kane or any other spuddy? Not really. I just think it would only be fair if at the end of every fawning Kane related sentence they added the caveat…..”but he still hasn’t won a single trophy, not one, not a sausage, bugger all, zip, Nada” you know, just to add a bit of reality to the piece.

  5. In support of how brilliant the Spuds really are (given this season is always going to be their season even though they haven’t won anything for years) there is any interesting, if a little frivolous, item on the Sky website. It’s entitled, “How long since your club was top.” In our case, it was 49 days ago, which in itself is pretty meaningless in my view.

    However, given how much the media have been falling over themselves to talk up the Spuds as title contenders at every turn, I was interested to see how long it’s been since they were top. I mean, we all know how many decades it’s been since they actually won the league but how many days is it since they were actually top? Was it less than our 49 days or a few days, maybe weeks more? Well the fact is, this amazing team with the most amazing attackers and consecutive amazing bosses were last top of the league…………………..not 8 days ago………not 2 weeks and 8 days ago but………….6 years, 2 weeks and 8 days ago!

    So the media are falling over themselves telling us how good the Spuds are but far from having got close to winning the bloomin’ league it’s actually over six years ago since they were top of the league for even one game.

    Still, I’m sure this season will be their season lol

  6. This medias selectively positive portrayal of Spurs is similar to the the way they have portrayed Liverpool over the years.

    As with Liverpool, despite years and years of failure Spurs are portrayed as successful. Every year of failure is brushed aside as if it never happened. Compare that to how every FA Cup we have actually won is brushed aside as if it never happened.

    When Liverpool eventually won the premier League, then and only then was the fact they hadn’t won the title for over 30 years really highlighted. Compare that to how after only 2 or 3 years without a tile we were endlessly ridiculed for it. We never started a match without ‘Arsenal haven’t won the League for X amount of years’ being rammed down our throats.

    The polar opposite ways we are portrayed by the media is ridiculous.

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