The 2013-14 English football season has been somewhat different in its pattern of dismissals and resignations to previous seasons. We have had 37 dismissals of football managers in the 2013-14 compared with 43 last season. The number of resignations of football managers is also lower, with only 6 resignations compared with 20 for the comparable period last season. In addition over 125 coaches lost their jobs in the professional football leagues in the 2013-14 season.
The mix of dismissals by league looks noticeably different to that seen in recent seasons. Figure 1 shows the pattern of football dismissals by league in the past six seasons. In most of these, dismissals have been highest in Leagues 1 and 2, reaching as high as 14 for League 1 dismissals in 2008-09, 12 in 2010-11, and 11 for League 2 in three of the last four seasons. Dismissals in the Championship were also high, with 11 dismissals in 2009-10 and 13 last season.
Figure 1 Manager dismissals in England by league, 2007-08 to date
Dismissals in the Championship are again high, with 10 managers dismissed this season. However, the highest number of football managers dismissed has been in the Premier League, a trend which runs counter to previous seasons in which dismissals in the Premier League were lower – often half the level or less of those in the Football League.
Table 1 shows the split of dismissed managers by league.
This season 12 managers have been dismissed in the Premier League, the highest number of managers dismissed in this league since its formation in 1992.
The average tenure – the length of time these managers were in post before their dismissal – was 1.22 years. This is lower than in the Premier League in previous seasons (see Table 2) and lower also than the overall average tenure of dismissed managers in the last two seasons.
The overall average tenure of dismissed managers this season is 1.44 years, down from 1.87 last season and 1.7 in 2011-12. Appendix 1 shows the tenure of dismissed managers over time. Average tenure of dismissed managers in the Premier League is now lower than the overall average tenure of dismissed managers.
Table 2 Average tenure of dismissed managers, last 3 seasons
Notes: 1 The Premier League tenure figure last season was raised, in part, by the dismissal of Tony Pulis at Stoke after 6.94 years. Without Pulis, the average tenure of dismissed managers in the Premier League is 2.22 years. 2 The tenure figure for the Championship in 2013-14 is raised by the dismissal after above average tenure of Gus Poyet (Brighton 3.68 years), Nigel Clough (Derby 4.72 years) and Chris Powell (Charlton 2.16 years).
Appendix 2 shows the longest-serving football managers in the professional leagues. Half of all professional football managers have now been in post for less than one year.
The previous highest number of dismissals in the Premier League was 9 (in 1994-95), last season’s 8 dismissals in the Premier League was the second highest number of managers dismissed in the Premier League.
Table 3 Premier League dismissals, 1992-93 to 2013-14
Whilst in some instances, changing manager has improved the performance of these clubs such that they have remained in the Premier League (as in the cases of Sunderland and Crystal Palace), for others (such as Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff) the change of manager did not result in the club remaining in the Premier
League, and indeed the instability caused by the changes may have been a contributory factor to relegation.
Table 4 shows the impact of changing manager by clubs in the bottom half of the Premier League in the 2013-14 season.
Table 4 Impact of changes in average points in 6 game blocks
|Jol to Muelensteen||1||0.833||1||1||0.66|
|Muelensteen to Magath||1||0.66||0.66||1.33|
|Di Canio to Poyet||1||0.5||1||1.5||1.833|
|Mackay to Solskjaer||1||1.166||0.833||0.66||0.66||0.833|
|Holloway to Pulis||1||0.833||0.5||1.166||1.166||1.5|
|Hughton to Adams||1.166||0.833||1.33||0.22|
|Clarke to Mel||1.33||1.66||0.66||1.166||0.5||1.33|
|Average impact of change||1.099||1.046||0.783||0.838||0.969||1.374|
This is shown graphically in Figure 2.
Figure 2 The impact of changing manager in the bottom half of the Premier League by club, 2013-14
Whilst upward trends can be seen in the changes of manager by Sunderland and Crystal Palace, downward trends are seen in the changes at Norwich, Cardiff and Fulham. If the average impact is shown graphically, the trend line is upward, although not until around the 13 – 18 game mark (see Figure 3).
Figure 3 Average impact of changing manager in bottom half of the Premier League, 2013-14
The conclusion that changing football manager is an easy option should, however be viewed with considerable caution for a number of reasons.
First, this analysis looks at the central tendency from a small number of cases, so if just one or two management changes produce positive results, as in the cases of Crystal Palace and Sunderland this season, this masks the decline in fortunes of Cardiff, Norwich and Fulham from changing their managers. In 4 out of 6 of these changes of football manager, the club was doing less well 12 games after the change than they were 12 games before.
Second, Deloitte’s reviews of football finance, Szymanski and Kuper and others show a correlation between the value of player wages and sporting performance. These snapshots of performance over time should be viewed in the bigger picture of wage rank and performance before and after this period. In the case of Sunderland, the turnaround in performance followed a period in which they underachieved compared with their expected wage rank, although it should be noted that Tony Pulis has vastly exceeded the level of performance which might be expected from Crystal Palace using this criteria.
Given the cost and complexity of changing football manager, this is definitely not a magic bullet.
In 2013-14, there were fewer resignations of football managers – only 6 compared with 20 in 2012-13. A number of the 20 resignations in 2012-13 were of football managers resigning to progress to clubs further up the leagues. The lower number of resignations suggests a different pattern of recruitment by clubs in the 2013-14 season.
Further analysis shows that there are three types of appointment. The first of these is the appointment of out-of-work football managers within the country, such as John Gregory at Crawley, David Flitcroft at Bury and Micky Mellon at Shrewsbury.
The second type of appointment is of managers coming into football management jobs from other countries. Seven of the new managerial appointments were of candidates from other countries; Felix Magath at Fulham, Aitor Karanka at Middlesbrough, Giuseppe Sannino at Watford, Jose Riga at Charlton, Oscar Garcia at Brighton, Pepe Mel at West Brom and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer at Cardiff. The change of manager in some, though not all, of these cases seems to have been prompted by a change in the nationality of the owners. So the new Belgian owner of Charlton Athletic appointed a Belgian manager, and the Italian owners of Watford another Italian manager.
The third, and in 2013-14 the largest, group of appointments to football manager positions were those of internal candidates who were already within the clubs who dismissed managers. Promotion of assistant managers, or of other staff, accounted for cases such as Russ Wilcox at Scunthorpe United, Stuart Gray at Sheffield Wednesday, Graham Kavanagh at Carlisle United, Rene Meulensteen at Fulham, Tim Sherwood at Tottenham Hotspur, Mark Warburton at Brentford, Neil Adams at Norwich City, Mike Jackson at Shrewsbury, Gary Monk at Swansea City, Andy Awford at Portsmouth and Darrell Clarke at Bristol Rovers.
If this continues into future seasons, this promotion of internal candidates who have gained experience in other positions within the club may provide higher levels of continuity and stability within clubs. It should be noted, however, that in a number of these cases – such as those of Mike Jackson, Rene Meulensteen, and Tim Sherwood – the internal candidate has already been dismissed after short tenure, which may indicate a tendency to view these internal appointments, in some cases, as interim appointments.
Editors’ note: This article first appeared on the League Managers Association website. Reproduced with permission.
The broader football management dismissal trend of average tenure of the dismissed managers looks as follows:
|Season||Dismissals||Resignations||Average tenure dismissed
managers in years
The top 10 current longest serving managers up until May 2013-14 included Arsene Wenger, now the longest serving league manager since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson (after 26 seasons) at the end of 2012-13, his successor David Moyes of Everton (11.23 seasons) and Tony Pulis who was dismissed by Stoke City in May (2013) after 6.94 seasons. Without these three, the longest serving Football managers in England are:
1. Arsène Wenger OBE – Arsenal (17.7 years)
2. Paul Tisdale – Exeter City (8 years)
3. Mark Yates – Cheltenham Town (5.58 years)
4. Russell Slade – Leyton Orient (4.16 years)
5. Karl Robinson – MK Dons (4 years)
6. Alan Pardew – Newcastle United (4.07 years)
7. Darren Ferguson – Peterborough (3.98 years)
8. Dean Smith – Walsall (3.3 years)
9. Micky Adams – Port Vale (2.99 years)
10. Jim Bentley – Morecambe (2.99 years)