Which PL club has had the most managers and the least success? Guess!

By Tony Attwood

We have been exploring over a series of articles what actually brings success to premier league clubs.  Is it buying in new players, or is it endlessly changing managers?  Or is it on the other hand stability?  Or maybe something else?

Our examinations of clubs and their purchases have suggested that spending more and more money on transfers more often causes decline than it brings the club up the league table.  And indeed when it does bring the club up the league that can take a lot of time.

But “new players” is what the media demand all the time, largely it seems because writing and broadcasting such articles costs next to nothing.

However, if it is not new players that generate success, what is it?  Could it be a new manager?

Interestingly just as most media outlets do not discuss the number of new players brought into a club (because it would reveal that bringing in new players is no guarantee of success) so although they often encourage supporters to demand a change of manager,  they don’t discuss how often this ploy is a success either.

There have been 431 managers in charge of clubs which have played in the Premier League since it started in 1992 and as you will know  Arsène Wenger holds the record for most games managed in the Premier League with 828, all with Arsenal.  At the other extreme Sam Allardyce has managed more PL clubs than anyone else, (eight).  Yet he won nothing in the Premier League.

Arsenal have had just five permanent managers in the Premier League; the smallest number.  But which team has had the most?   And has that team’s constant change of managers given them the success they crave?

Since calling for a new manager is as common as calling for players to be removed and new players brought in, it is interesting that just as no one analyses how many trasfers work so no one has looked to see if bringing in a new manager actually works.

A hint as to the answer comes when we ask which club has had the most managers in the Premier League era.   The answer for the most managers is Tottenham Hotspur with 25 men in the job since 1992/93 and a total of two league cup wins.

Here is the league table of club managers down to Arsenal excluding the temporary managers, and worked out the average stay of permanent managers

Club Total managers Total minus temp managers Seasons in Premier League Average stay of permanent managers
Tottenham Hotspur 25 15 30 2.00 years
Chelsea 24 15 30 2.00 years
Newcastle United 24 15 27 1.80 years
Aston Villa 20 12 27 1.66 years
Southampton 20 18 23 1.27 years
Crystal Palace 19 12 13 1.08 years
Everton 19 13 30 2.30 years
West Bromwich Albion 18 13 13 1.00 year
West Ham United 16 13 26 2.00 years
Leicester City 15 11 16 1.54 years
Sunderland 14 12 16 1.33 years
Fulham 13 11 15 1.36 years
Manchester City 13 11 25 2.27 years
Watford 13 11 8 0.73 years
Blackburn Rovers 10 10 18 1.80 years
Liverpool 10 9 30 3.33 years
Swansea City 10 7 7 1.00 years
Arsenal 9 5 30 6.00 years
Norwich City 9 8 10 1.25 years
Portsmouth 9 7 7 1.00 years
Queens Park Rangers 9 7 7 1.00 years
Manchester United 8 5 30 3.75 years

Obviously, changing managers a lot does not bring more success.  It is more a case of spending a vast amount of money (compensation to his old club, big salary, pay off when sacked); that’s what you get.

Indeed even the media is starting to realise that just sacking a manager is not a solution to a club’s problems, as in the story from the Telegraph headlined The worrying decline of trophyless Manchester United – and why this behemoth is too big for one new coach to fix

Indeed as the article, Mauricio Pochettino saw it coming in 2019 makes clear, what Pochettino wanted and didn’t manage to get at Tottenham was a clear plan.   And that I think is the key to footballing success.  Indeed it is the antithesis of the “spend spend spend” and “sack the manager” approach.

And the big problem is that when a club is slipping and wants to rebuild they tend to pick up a manager to see how he will do, rather than bring in a manager with a clear plan that the club directors buy into.

There will normally be some player purchases, of course, but rarely (as Mr Arteta proposed) a new set of tactics that would stop the PGMO referees from giving Arsenal more yellow cards than every other team in the league.

It is interesting to see how rarely some media outlets touch on tactics unless it is to say that the manager got the tactics wrong.   And yet these tactics can be at the very heart of a club’s success, as we saw last season with the “stop tackling” approach at Arsenal.  Instead, for the media, it is invariably “new manager” and “new players” – an approach that fails more often than it succeeds.

So what can a club do?  I’ll try and explore this further in the next piece.

3 Replies to “Which PL club has had the most managers and the least success? Guess!”

  1. Spending money wise it has changed simply because so many now spend so much.

    Because of the shear quantity if ‘big spenders’ some clubs will spend big and fail, that is inevitable.

    -It is a simple fact that if every club was owned by a billionaire and spent £100 Million on players every year 19 ‘Big Spenders’ would still fail to win the PL.

    -17 would fail to win anything domestically.

    -16 would fail to qualify for the Champions League.

    -12 would fail to qualify for Europe in any way shape of form.

    -3 would even get relegated.

    -Some would go up the table some would go down.

    So endlessly highlighting clubs that spend big and fail is utterly misleading.

    I would be far more impressed if somebody showed me a club that DIDN’T spend big, and managed to win the title.

    Oh yeah, Leicester, and that’s it for the last 2 decades.

    So given there is no argument that you have to spend big to win the Premier League, and lets get this right, there is NO argument, the question posed in this article is actually a far far more important one.

    Because the more and more clubs that spend big, each club needs something else in addition to the spending, to make the crucial difference, and it probably is the manager, and ater that the players he puts together.

    But the problem is there’s only a finite number of ‘elite’ managers as there is ‘elite’ players, which is why by and large all the top clubs tend to pass around the small group of ‘elite’ managers between themselves, until they get it right.

    The thing is Man City, Chelsea and Man Utd were so big for so long, spending way way more than anyone else and because of that spending, winning way way more than anyone else they become THE go to place for Managers and Players alike.

    Up until very recently the gulf between their spending and everyone else’s was so vast they could even afford to install non elite managers and still win everything. Chelsea and City did this and maintained their success, though they never lasted long before an ‘elite’ was brought in.

    Manchester Utd on the other hand did the same and failed. They are still failing. So they are indeed an example of spending enormous amounts of money and failing. But the question is why have they failed?

    Is it because they spent big or is it because they haven’t got the manager right yet ?

    I suggest it’s the problem with managers.

    A simple question, if Klopp had gone to Man Utd and Not Liverpool and Liverpool had put in place the list of managers employed at Utd, do you think Man Utd would of fallen from grace as they have, and would Liverpool of won their first title for over 25 years ?

    I obviously don’t know the answer but what I believe is Man Utd would still be battling it out with Man City and Chelsea for the title every season, and Liverpool would still be where they were for the last 25 years, hovering around the top 6, top 4.

    My view, as anyone who reads untold will know, is that if you want to challenge for the title, the need to spend big is a given. Is is non negotiable. You HAVE to spend big.

    Now as we know, lots of clubs are now spending big, and lots are failing, but why?

    Well, as I went into great detail about a couple of weeks ago, there’s many reasons, one of which is indeed what this article is all about. Getting the right manager. That in itself is extremely difficult as Man Utd are finding. As we are finding. Hopefully we how now found him. Only time will tell.

    And there we have it. That all important word. TIME !!

    And to give a manager time you need faith, hope, trust and most of all PATIENCE. And patience is something that fans and owners are sorely lacking.

    We here on Untold, the regulars at least, seem to be by nature a loyal and patient bunch, but we are not the norm. I myself was willing to stick with Emery for a little longer. Whether that would of been right or wrong nobody can ever know. Most wanted him gone, even sooner than he was.

    Personally, now in retrospect I think it was the right decision as I really think Arteta can take us back as high as our budget will allow, and that’s all you can ask.

    But am I right? Some want Arteta gone already. Some think he is not the man.

    And this is the dilemma faced by every club other than Man city and Liverpool, who have the 2 best managers in the World in place, virtually every week.

    Win a local derby and you’re on your way. We’ve cracked it. This is THE man.

    Get knocked out of the FA Cup by a lower league side whilst putting in an inept lifeless display and he has to go. This brings to light the eternal question. How much time do you give the manager? Do you hold your nerve? Do you cut your loses ?

    As we can all see with the managerial merry-go-round that plays out in front of our very eyes every season, the later seems to be, not only the fans, but the owners default position.

  2. Post Wenger, Arteta is the best appointment Arsenal have made. His approach and his disciplinarian methods are nothing short of appropriate for the modern footballer.
    Contracts with footballers should include discipline based penalties including loss of earnings. This will curb the arrogance of well paid players sulking in financial glory rather than acting with humility.

    Artetas football approach has also been a breath of fresh air in both offense and defence. Results are best under the circumstances as we are limited by ‘slope and transition’ controlled by current environmental standards.

    Until these standards are eliminated from the game, football has only one way to go. Money will not overcome a bent system.

  3. @Menace,

    I fully agree with your opinion. When you think about the fact that the owners hail from the NFL/NBA and other leagues in the US where it is normal that players misbehaving don’t get away with it, we are most probably seeing Mr Arteta getting full backing for his approach in discipline related matters as for the owners, it is the normal normal, not the new normal.

    And considering the fact that the squad is very young, this is probably the best approach : it gives them a framework and a sense of being in it together with no prima-donnas and everyone having his chance based on performance and attitude. Give your best all around, the manager will give you a chance. And if you look at the more senior players left in the squad, I don’t think one could fault them in the ‘attitude/team first’ department.

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