How the Average Tenure of a Premier League Manager Compares to Other Leagues

Until now, the presence of tenured managers in the Premier League like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger loomed large and were viewed as signs of success, stability and ultimately, pride.  With Ferguson’s retirement, he has not only ended his 26 years in charge, but Moyes’ 11 years at Everton, making Wenger the longest serving manager in the Premier League by a mile.  As a matter of fact, when looking at the Premier League’s competition, not one of the managers in La Liga has served at their club for longer than three years; most have been appointed within the past two years.  The trend of ephemeral managers is not uncommon to the Premier League, but compared to their immediate rivals, the Premier League’s average tenure was almost three times that of the opposition and it is currently in steep decline.

In Italy, Napoli’s Mazzari was the longest serving manager, having been at the club for four years, but announced his departure after leading the club to second place.  In the Bundesliga, a league whose governance and ownership structure has been admired around the world, we find that the 3 year curse is broken by a few managers. Less than a month ago, Werder Bremen let go of Thomas Schaaf, a club legend who not only signed up with the club as a teenager, but would spend his entire playing career with them, and go on to manage them for 14 years.  Jurgen Klopp, among two other managers have been at their respective clubs for over 4 years now.  Klopp’s track record with Dortmund is impressive, only matched by Ottmar Hitzfeld, which explains his lengthy tenure at the club.  The other two candidates can be described as anomalies.  One of the managers is Thomas Tuchel, having taken over one year after Klopp left Mainz and the other, Norber Meier, who this year was relegated with Fortuna Dusseldorf, the same team he has helped to promote from deepest pits of the 3rd Bundesliga, explaining why he was not sacked after getting relegated.

Before the last game of the season kicked-off, the average managerial tenure for the Premier League was at 1517 days, or approximately 4 years and 2 months.  With the departures of Ferguson, Moyes, Pulis and Martinez from the managerial roster and including the two promoted managers of Cardiff City and Hull, the average tenure dropped to 792 days, which equates to roughly 2 years and 2 months.  Disregarding Wenger’s time at Arsenal, which has become an outlier at this point, the average tenure of a Premier League manager is 415 days or roughly 1 year and 2 months.  With four vacant managerial positions due to be filled, it will drag the average down.  In this case, the median can be regarded as a more accurate indicator, which was at 355 days with the inclusion of Ferguson and company, and only dipped slightly to 349.5 days without including the newly departed long serving managers.  This goes to show that the bulk of the managers in the Premier League have just about served one season at their respective clubs.  These figures, as previously mentioned, are not an anomaly.  When comparing this to the Serie A, the numbers are approximately the same. Among the 20 managers that finished the season with their clubs, the average was 480 days, with a median at 346 days.  La Liga has fared better and looking at all current managers the average tenure is 488 days, with a median set at 509 days.  Perhaps it is Spain’s financial crisis that has limited the club’s sacking practices, or this is a cyclical trend and a new wave of departing managers is about to be witnessed.

Going into next season, the league that will most likely have the highest average, pending any mass managerial layoffs, is the Bundesliga.  The managers at the last game of the season were in charge for an average of 691 days and a median of 547days.  While German financial stability is an important aspect of the game in the Bundesrepublik, German managers are known to do the rounds with proven figures like Hitzfeld, Rehagel, Heynckes and Magath having managed a minimum of three Bundesliga teams and all having managed Bayern Munich.  In Italy, it isn’t uncommon for a manager to have led Juventus and AC Milan or any combination of the top sides including Inter and Roma.  The Premier League is starting to acknowledge this model and Benitez, although heavily booed, was the first Premier League manager in the modern era to take control of two classical “top four” sides.[1]

The trend across Europe and in fact across the world is that the footballing world isn’t patient and they demand immediate changes if they are not presented with success.  In England, it was almost unheard of to sack managers in quick succession as has been done at Liverpool or Tottenham.  With the departures of Ferguson, Moyes, Pulis and disregarding Wenger’s time in control, it looks like the tenure of managers will be the lowest among the top 4 leagues in Europe.  Perhaps Everton and Manchester United will restart the clock and give their managers time, but with a continual increase in profits, the pressure levied on Moyes will most likely dictate a top 4 finish within his first two years in charge and a trophy within 3.  In light of recent departures, Pardew and Jol are two of the longest serving managers, and it comes as no surprise that both are under pressure by the fans and media for what can be perceived as a lackluster season.   Going into season 2013/2014, the number of managers (disregarding promoted sides) with more than 1000 days in charge can be counted on both hands across all four leagues.  It is quite common for managers

Gone are the days when a club is identified by the manager, fans are growing up and becoming accustomed to seeing 3 to 4 managers before they reach adulthood.  In the case of Mourinho and Guardiola, managers have garnered a fan base as well.  As it stands, Wenger is the longest serving top division manager in the world and when his tenure does end, either by mutual consent, retirement or sacking, it will be unlikely that another manager in England will reach a decade of management at one club.  Whether the sacking of managers is solely influenced by money or lack of patience is something that one cannot specifically pinpoint without analyzing ulterior motives, but it is quite certain that any manager regardless of the requirements set, will be under immense pressure to deliver.

As the all-time great, Guy Roux, once said, “Sometimes I add up how much it costs someone to come and watch us five times a month behind the goal – there are guys who probably go without meat to come to the games. Knowing you’ve made him unhappy by losing is a huge weight to bear.”

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One Response

  1. Matt May 28, 2013

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