The twenty Premier League teams for next season are very close to being finalised, with the final place being decided this weekend in a £120m game between Crystal Palace & Watford. Both clubs have had new managers in the last 10 months and both are (almost) reaping the rewards.
This means that 15 of the 20 teams that will be competing in the Premier League next season will have changed their Manager in the previous 12 months:
- Manchester United
- Manchester City
- Tottenham Hotspur
- West Brom
- Swansea City
- Norwich City
- Stoke City
- Aston Villa
- Hull City
- Crystal Palace or Watford
Its important to note that not all of these changes are as a result of a manager being sacked, indeed 4 of them were as a result of managers moving on to ‘bigger’ clubs, 1 due to retirement and 1 to take on the England managers job. However, regardless of the reasons for change, I wanted to look at the impact of the new manager taking over and also what will be expected of the new managers next season.
I think it’s fair to state that when a club hires a new manager the minimum that they expect of the replacement is an improvement in the team performance. In essence, if an outgoing manager has won 10 points in the previous 10 games, the new guy has to get 11 out of the same number of games, doesn’t he?
In order to assess the improvements that arise from a new manager coming in, I’ve done a comparison of the newbies that were introduced by Premier League clubs either before or during last season against their predecessors, over the same amount of games. For instance, Paolo Di Canio managed Sunderland for 7 games so I have compared this against Martin O’Neills last 7 games. Of course there may be a difference in the quality of opposition over the 7 games, however these are purely as a result of scheduling and club chairmen are aware of the games coming up anyway.
(I have restricted the comparison to the teams that were playing in the Premier League in the 2012/13 season).
In pictorial terms there’s no-one that really jumps out as having a huge impact compared to the previous manager. In fact, only 1 manager bettered their predecessor by more than 2 wins, Paul Lambert at Villa with 3 more wins by Alex McLeish. So does that mean that Lambert was the best Premier League replacement last season? The next chart shows the overall points difference by club:
So, compared to their predecessor over the same number of games, Brendan Rodgers comes out on top with 9 points more than Dalglish (38 games) and Paolo Di Canio follows in 2nd by gaining 6 points more than Martin O’Neill (7 games).
Despite all the plaudits and praise that Michael Laudrup has received, even being touted for the Everton job in some media reports, he actually finished 1 point behind Rodgers 11/12 Swansea points. Laudrup did however manage this whilst delivering a net transfer spend of +£10,709,600 versus Rodgers -£10,907,600.
Chris Hughton will no doubt be delighted with finishing 11th in the league, despite finishing 3 points behind Lamberts Norwich side the previous season. Those 3 points would have given Norwich a 9th place finish.
To give a better ‘at a glance’ view, the following shows Points per Game:
When Martin O’Neill was sacked by Sunderland there were a lot of comments on Twitter questioning the decision, and particularly the timing of it. Clearly his last 7 games giving a PPG of just 0.29 was rotten. Di Canio managing 1.14 PPG seems to justify the decision.
Interestingly, the same questions were asked about Southamptons sacking of Nigel Adkins. The fact that Pochettino managed exactly the same record of wins, draws & losses as Adkins (over the same amount of games) means that the questions remain unanswered. The only positive influence that Pochettino has had so far is that Southampton conceded less goals (20 v Adkins 25).
So, 5 of the 8 managerial changes delivered positive improvement. Only time will tell if they can continue to do so next season.
There will be (at least) 5 Premier League clubs with new managers next season so, in closing, I wanted to take a quick look at the challenges ahead of them (2012/13 figures):
Clearly David Moyes has a huge (almost impossible) task ahead of him, having to emulate (and quite frankly to better) Sir Alex. In fact, none of the jobs look easy. The only one where I would be confident enough to put money on an improvement is Chelsea, and only if Jose Mourinho does go back.
There will no doubt be lots of interest in the Stoke job as it appears it requires the lowest level of success to have an impact. However, they are clearly keen to move into a more ‘continental’ style of football and shrug off their reputation of being a ‘typically English’ kind of team. To do this will they will need to recruit a foreign manager, or at least a British manager with a continental style, and how many of them will be looking to take on the ‘project’. I wouldn’t be surprised though to see Zola’s name linked if Watford fail to gain promotion.
Stoke & Zola, a match made in Heaven.