Does changing the manager or buying new players really help a Prem Lge club?

By Tony Attwood

One of the most curious factors about football is that it has evolved its own unreal set of causes and effects.  Unreal in the sense that the causes do not actually have the effect that is imagined, but despite this, they are regularly touted as the issues that determine how well a club does.

And yet despite this, these causes are touted day by day.  If a club is doing badly, it is the manager and the players.   Get in a new manager and/or get in new players.  That is it, over and over again.  No one wants to look seriously at any other possible cause.

Likewise when a manager is said to be useless the howls and demands are widespread.  Remember Two big names mentioned as Arsenal told to sack Mikel Arteta.    Or how about Seven reasons why Arteta should be sacked now     Or Piers Morgan wants Arteta sacked now

And on and on.   What is so awful is not just that these articles were mindless drivel, but that no one thought to apologise for publishing them when the upturn started.

Of course sometimes the cause of a club’s demise can be the manager or the players, that’s true.  But my point is that by and large sacking a manager or signing loads of star players is generally not helpful.   With Arsenal, the cause of their downturn has often been the PGMO, which because it has no rules about how often one referee can oversee matches involving a specific club, have the ability to “come down hard” on a club, simply by picking the refs most likely to penalise the club over and over again.

We showed this happening in our statistics for last season, and I rather suspect that as this season goes on we will be able to show the same thing again.  And we have seen clubs seeking to overcome this by the way they change their tactics according to what the referees do to them.

Leicester you may recall have been able to up their level of tackling because referees were very reluctant to give them cards.  Arsenal, have suffered in the reverse.

Football journalists however live in a simple world of make-believe which dismisses all this and instead, insists on running endless stories on sacking the manager and buying new players, irrespective of how much money the club has previously spent.   And how many managers the club has already had.

The longest-serving manager is Dyche at Burnley at just over nine years.  But 14 of the managers in place have been there for under three years.   According to Transfermarkt the average number of managerial changes is around nine per season in the Premier League – or 45%.

But interestingly the clubs that have the most managerial changes are the clubs that have underachieved in terms of their own expectations.   In the Transfermarkt chart of managers (which includes temporary managers as well as permanent appointments) the top changing clubs are Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Southampton, Everton, West Bromwich, Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Leicester City.  In short, the clubs that change their managers the most often are simply failing over and over again, presumably endlessly bringing in new men in the vague hope that one day they will get it right.

Of the changlings, only Chelsea could be considered a regular success.  Leicster did win the league once but then sacked their manager not long after.

As for the players, TalkSport did a review of last season’s spending by PL clubs, looking at the net spend (thus removing the income on sales from the cost of incoming players).

Chelsea made a profit on selling players last season, Arsenal had the highest nett spend.  Here are some figures from the TS list.   + means the club made a profit, – means a loss.

  • Chelsea: +£37.12m (current position 1st)
  • Aston Villa: +£19.26m (current position 16th)
  • Southampton: +17.45m (current position 13th)
  • Everton + £5.2m (currently position 11th)
  • Newcastle -£26.46m (current position 19th)
  • Tottenham – £30.78m (current position 9th)
  • Leicester – £46.14m (current position 12th)
  • West Ham – £40.16m (current position 3rd)
  • Manchester City -£73.83m (current position 2nd)
  • Manchester United -£99.81m (current position 6th)
  • Arsenal -£121.23m (current position 5th)

So there is not an immediate link between league position and income and expenditure over one season, any more than there is between sacking and not sacking a manager and league position.

“Arsenal will have a lot to answer more if they don’t have a successful season after securing the biggest net spend in the league this summer.” So said TalkSport in its annual pre-season put down of Arsenal.  But of course, like most of what they say, that’s nonsense.

There really is very little link between net spend and league position, just as there is little relationship between getting a new manager and league position.

But don’t tell TalkSport – or any other radio station, TV station, newspaper or blog.  For if they believed you they would have to find something serious to talk about.

2 Replies to “Does changing the manager or buying new players really help a Prem Lge club?”

  1. The press always publish the gross spend which makes it look worse.
    Chelsea spent £95M on one player.

  2. Yes there is. We’ve been here before.

    Okay in any one season the relationship between net spend and success may not relate but as I have shown time and time again over time the relationship between spending and success is irrefutable, hence the 3 biggest net spenders over the last 10/20 years are the most successful, namely Man City, Chelsea and Man Utd.

    I don’t know why you keep banging this drum Tony because it simply isn’t true.

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