Over the years, a controversial term has crept into football dialogue. ‘Short-termism’ is a phrase used to criticise teams opting for short-term managers, rather than sticking to one manager for an extended period. If a club isn’t getting good and consistent results, managers tend to be in the firing line as owners of clubs have mounting pressure from fans, and from a monetary and business point of view, to succeed. Thus, short-termism is – what seems to be for many clubs – the only viable option.
As a result, sport ticketing website, Ticketgum.com analysed how managerial changes have differed during a season since the Premier League’s ‘kick-off’ 26 years ago, in 1992, utilising statistics from Transfermarkt.co.uk and Soccerbase.com.
Ticketgum.com analysed the data and found that since the Premier League was established, a staggering 10 seasons of out 26 have had more than 10 managerial changes during a single season – that’s 38% of all seasons since 1992. In this football year alone, England’s top-flight League has had a staggering 14 managerial changes thanks to the sacking of Mauricio Pellegrino last night from Southampton FC – an increase of 56% from last season’s nine sackings. As a result, this season has seen the joint-highest number of changes with the 2013/14 season, four years ago. With just eight games left this season, it is certainly possible that the Premier League could exceed the current figure by the end of the season.
WHICH CLUBS HAVE CHANGED THEIR MANAGER THE MOST?
Ticketgum.com sought to find out the top 20 clubs who have changed their manager the most in their Premier League history. Newcastle United ranks in first place for changing their manager a whopping 19 times. In second and third place is Aston Villa and Sunderland, respectively, with 13 changes each. Tottenham Hotspur ranked in fourth place, with 12 managerial changes in 26 years, and Crystal Palace following closely behind with 11.
At the other end of the table, ranking 20th, Hull City has just 4 changes, alongside Liverpool whom also has 4 changes, and Manchester City and QPR both have made 5 changes over their stint in the top-flight league. Shockingly, between first-place (Newcastle) and 20th place (Hull City), there is a difference of 15 managers.
Out of the top 20 clubs, 12 are currently in the Premier League this season (17/18) and the remaining 8 are relegated. Of the 12 teams, as it stands, 6 teams are currently in the bottom half of the Premier League. Consequently, this is a strong case that short-termism is not beneficial for the majority.
For instance, table toppers, Newcastle United, are a prime example of how constantly changing manager is not helpful for club progression. If you look at the 2000/04 era, whilst under the management of Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle were doing well, even hitting 4th and 3rd position in 01/02 and 02/03, respectively. However, when Robson was sacked for a poor start to the League in 2004, it all began to go downhill, with the club changing their manager consecutively for seven seasons. This resulted in the club reaching the relegation zone, and even getting relegated twice in the last 20 years.
On the other hand, despite Tottenham Hotspur being the 4th highest club for the number of managerial changes, their spell of short-termism has come to an end now they have settled on one manager for almost 4 years. So far, Mauricio Pochettino has led 208 games in charge for the team – and arguably they’re in the best form and positioning since 1992.
WHICH MANAGERS HAVE BEEN IN CHARGE THE LONGEST THIS SEASON?
In addition to Spurs, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton are the only other teams to have had a manager surpass 200 games in charge since 2009. When considering the current managers in the Premier League this season, there have only been four managers who have surpassed 200 games in charge. These have been Arsene Wenger with 1,222 games in charge of Arsenal, followed by Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe (263 games), Burnley’s Sean Dyche (251) and Mauricio Pochettino who has been in charge for 208 games for Tottenham Hotspur. All of these clubs are either in the top half or mid-table, showing that having one single manager for a long period of time perhaps is better than short-termism.
However, it can be argued that staying committed to a long-term manager can sometimes be counter-intuitive. When considering Arsenal, despite being under Wenger for 21 years and winning trophies and fluctuating between 1st and 4th place (averaging around 3rd place over the last 20 years), it is arguable that Arsene Wenger is losing his touch following the recent string of results from Arsenal. Furthermore, even though Tottenham Hotspur are in their best form, and progressing significantly through bringing in youth players, under Pochettino they have not yet won anything.