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New faces but even less time: managers in the Premier League

25 August 2014

65FULHAM0402ANew names have dominated Premier League managerial appointments in the last two years, but there is some evidence that these less-familiar faces are being given even less time than ‘experienced’ Premier League managers to improve their teams.

Four Premier League clubs appointed new managers this summer; three of these appointments were new to the league (van Gaal, Koeman, Irvine) whilst the fourth, Mauricio Pochettino, was himself a Premier League rookie just 16 months earlier.

Over the last 20 months, clubs have gone largely gone for managers with little or no previous Premier League experience; in fact the only manager appointed with more than 1 Premier League club on his managerial CV was Mark Hughes at Stoke City.

We’ve divided managerial appointments into three categories, depending on the previous experience of the manager (caretakers excluded):

  • Had previously managed 2 or more Premier League clubs (e.g. Redknapp at QPR)
  • Had previously managed 1 other Premier League club (e.g. Rodgers at Liverpool)
  • Had not previously managed in the Premier League (e.g. Laudrup at Swansea)

Since 2001, there’s been no real trend in the types of appointments, despite the last two years being noticeable for the tendency to hire managers with limited Premier League experience.

managers1

What’s particularly intriguing, however, is the amount of time these new managers are being given in their new jobs. Nearly a third (15/46) of managers with no previous Premier League jobs have lasted less than 6 months; this is a much poorer record than those with 1+ Premier League clubs on their CV. The sample size is small, so at this stage it’s more a trend to watch rather than a rule of thumb.

managers3

Whether these managers have been outright failures or simply have not been given the time of their more experienced counterparts is unclear. If the latter reason explains the trend, it is curious that clubs would be so keen to sack managers that were, on average, riskier options (on the basis of being untested in the Premier League). Risk often brings greater uncertainty, and in the face of greater uncertainty it’s arguable that these managers should be given more time than those with previous experience.

A number (10/46) of these managers have been given time though and gone on to last more than 3 years – people like Roberto Mancini, Rafael Benitez and Gareth Southgate*.

As previously mentioned, the sample size is small and there will be plenty of caveats (not all managers are sacked, some managers are not caretakers but clearly stop-gaps, should we categorise van Gaal the same as Sherwood? etc), but there is some merit in observing whether ‘newer’ managers are treated differently to those with more history in the Premier League.

*The only three managers who previously had Premier League jobs and also lasted 3+ years in a new job were Harry Redknapp (Tottenham), Martin O’Neill (Aston Villa) and David O’Leary (Aston Villa). 

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