Why Nobody Wins In The Football Manager Sack Race

Football - Ipswich Town v Coventry City Coca-Cola Football League Championship - Portman Road - 3/5/09..Ipswich manager Roy Keane applauds fans after the final whistle Photo via Newscom

The last month and halfway point of the season has seen the start of the managerial silly season where managers feel about as safe as one of the main characters in a Final Destination film.
There have been a large number of sackings in the Championship in the last two months as chairman convince themselves that half a season of underachievement and struggle can only be resolved by a change of manager.
Unable to radically change their playing squads due to a lack of funds and player contracts, chairman who cannot blame themselves for egotistical and self preservation find a scapegoat in the manager.
The statistics are shocking, the League Managers Association released some statistics last year that shows that the average life expectancy of a manager is just 1.4 years with nearly half of the 92 Premier and Football league clubs changing manager in the 2008-2009 season.

In the Championship most of the sackings have taken place near the bottom of the table as chairman try desperately to save their club’s season, but this cannot work for every club as someone has to be relegated to League One next season.

There is certainly something to be said about new manager syndrome, research shows that most managers enjoy a honeymoon period where they are unlikely to be dismissed.

Yet the evidence shows this is rarely a permanent change in fortunes, I found a fascinating article that compares the average points levels of club both before and after the sacking of a manager since the inception of the Premier League to 2008.

The report shows that although there is on an average a marked improvement in results upon sacking a manager, but this is on average negated within 13-18 games of the sacking as the average points per game return falls to the pre-sacking level.

Even if you ignore a numbers based approach, the football system is set up in a vicious cycle for today’s managers, it seems like every club is fighting just to survive and the numbers and expectations just do not stack up.

You have to be realistic, whilst it seems like I am stating the obvious, it seems that many of those controlling our football clubs have forgotten that not every team can play in the Premier League and not every club can avoid relegation. Yet relegation or a few bad results alone do not turn a manager into damaged goods.

If this was the case then few managers would get more than one management appointment however it has turned into a circus, some managers seem to bounce from club to club with little time to make a positive impact.

Whilst there will always be a point where a manager can instill confidence in his players or display any sign that things can improve, a system where nearly half of clubs change manager cannot be sustainable particularly when there is a fat settlement cheque to pay.

Key Research

What is the Impact of Changing Football Manager? – Sue Bridgewater


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