Managerial changes: Which club chairmen are the most trigger happy?

The summer has brought a fresh wave of managerial changes, with the likes of Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan having a new face at the helm next season, so we were curious to find out which clubs have been the most prolific at dispensing with managers.

There have been 100 clubs across the ‘big five’ European leagues who have spent at least half of the last decade in the top flight, so we analysed every one of their managerial changes to see which chairmen have the itchiest trigger fingers.

The villains

Four of the six most impatient chairmen are in charge of clubs in Serie A, with its offshore clubs leading the way. Palermo, based in Sicily, have gotten through an astonishing average of three managers per season during their nine top-flight campaigns in this decade. This means that the average tenure of a manager there is less than 13 league games in length!

Owner Maurizio Zamparini, given pride of place at the top of our graphic, has been the man responsible for most of these managerial changes and his reign of terror may continue for a while yet after the sale of his controlling stake in the club fell through earlier this year.

Fellow islanders Cagliari, situated to the north west in Sardinia, are a clear second, having averaged two bosses per season, and Italian clubs dominate the overall top 10. The average Cagliari boss in this period has therefore survived for exactly half a season before being replaced.

Another Italian club – Siena – also make the top five, with two La Liga sides – Zaragoza and Santander – rounding it out; there’s clearly something in the air in Mediterranean boardrooms that causes patience to evaporate more rapidly than elsewhere.

Overall, Serie A is the only one of the ‘big five’ leagues where the average club gets through more than one manager a season, in stark contrast to Ligue 1 where a boss gets an average of over 67 league matches to make a good impression. The French top flight is the only one in which no club has gotten through more than one manager a season; the most trigger-happy have been Marseille, where new managers tend to get a shade over 42 league games before moving on.

The victims

This analysis would not be complete without a look at the victims of cold-blooded chairmen, and it is little surprise that many of the most regular casualties – six of the top 10 – hail from Italy.

Topping the list is Davide Ballardini, who has had nine separate managerial stints in the last 10 years. Over half of these have been at either Palermo (three) or Cagliari (two) – the two most trigger-happy clubs in our analysis – so he may well have the thickest skin in all of Europe.

The good guys

We wanted to end on a positive note so sought out clubs whose chairmen have exercised the most restraint in the last decade. It’s a bit much to ask for clubs to stick with the same manager over a decade and indeed only one has managed to do so in the last 10 seasons: Arsenal.

There are five others who have at least constrained their managerial changes to the summer, avoiding the disruption of pulling the trigger in mid-season. No Italian clubs make this list but three are from La Liga, most notably Barcelona, who have changed their manager five times in 10 years but always between seasons. Could such controlled chaos be one of the secrets of their ongoing success?

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Andrew works at the Press Association where he oversees all the company’s sport betting editorial, having previously worked on the Teletext Sport desk and been editor of the England cricket team’s website. A lifelong Huddersfield Town fan, his preferred way to unwind is to head for the hills on his bike.

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