It is the time of the season when chairmen start to lose patience and managerial changes occur on a regular basis as under-performing bosses pay the price for a poor start to the campaign.
West Ham’s Slaven Bilic has become the fourth managerial departure of the season in the Premier League following Frank de Boer’s early departure and the dismissals of Craig Shakespeare at Leicester and Ronald Koeman at Everton.
We were curious to work out when managerial changes are most likely to happen and, perhaps more importantly for both chairmen and punters, who are the ideal candidates for any vacant roles.
When do managerial changes happen?
We found that, over the last decade, almost a third of all managerial changes take place by the 10th week of the season. Half of all changes were made by the 15th round of matches and two thirds had taken place by the halfway stage of the season, so there could be more changes still to come. That could be bad news for the likes of Tony Pulis and Paul Clement, who are under pressure at West Brom and Swansea respectively.
Identifying the ideal replacement at a top club
We analysed the data from every mid-season managerial appointment across the big five European leagues in the last decade and zoomed in on the 20 most successful, in terms of how they improved their new club’s performances. From these we identified the three key characteristics of a successful mid-season replacement at a top club, defined as one that was in contention for a European place based on their finishing position in the previous season.
Firstly, a track record of winning silverware and taking a side into Europe is important – this is not a field for novices. Secondly, we found that fewer than half of the 20 most successful appointments had prior experience of the division, so ‘knowing the league’ wasn’t necessary, and thirdly we saw a high rate of success at clubs who promoted from within.
We have applied these criteria to a list of potential appointments and come up with a five-name shortlist for any chairmen in search of a replacement manager. Thomas Tuchel and Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim stand out, with ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri and recently-dismissed Bayern supremo Carlo Ancelotti rounding out our list.
What about at a relegation battler?
For clubs more interested in avoiding the drop, the characteristics are very different. In the top 20 appointments at clubs whose league performances suggested a struggle against relegation, finding someone who has been around the block was key, typically a manager with at least six previous jobs and over a decade of experience.
Trophies on a CV are just window dressing, as most of the canniest hires had not won a major tournament nor even managed a team in Europe. Thirdly, this is where some local knowledge can make the difference, with three quarters of the best performers being from the same nation and with experience of the division as either a player or manager.
These criteria suggest the likes of Sam Allardyce or Alan Pardew should be in the frame, although Wales boss Chris Coleman also fits the bill and may be looking for a fresh challenge after their World Cup disappointment. A more ambitious club may be able to attract three-time LMA Manager of the Year David Moyes, or convince Walter Mazzarri to try and succeed where he failed at Watford.
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