*With Manchester United starting the process to find a new manager, like a football vulture I had to take the opportunity to re-post this. Didn’t I?
I left school at 16 and, after a short stint as an apprentice fitter, I joined the Royal Navy. On completion of my training I was posted to HMS Brave, a Type 22 Frigate which was to be my home for the next 3 years.
The captain at the time was a smashing bloke, a real leader with a wicked sense of humour but a guy who also respected the line between officers and ratings. He would take the time to wander around the ship and say hello, feigning interest in whatever task you were on with, although he never let it show that his interest was anything other than genuine.
He was the ‘firm but fair’ type of leader and the ships company liked and respected him, which meant that we were all working toward a single objective and the ship performed well.
Even when I was responsible for creating a diplomatic incident which resulted in the ship being kicked out of St Johns, Newfoundland (a story that I can only tell when I’m drunk) he showed me a level of support and restraint that I really didn’t deserve. He was a good captain.
Then, when the Gulf War started, HMS Brave was sent to provide support to the coalition. The ship was ready and the crew were ready but sadly our captain wasn’t. He turned into a shadow of the man that we all knew and respected, struggling with even the most basic of operational tasks. The pressure of being responsible for this multi-million pound piece of kit and potentially hundreds of mens’ lives broke him.
Early on in the deployment he was removed from his post by the First Lieutenant until a permanent captain could join. This was no doubt very embarrassing for the Admiralty, however they could never have seen it coming.
The point of the story is that, when you are giving someone a role, it is virtually impossible to predict how they are going to operate, or change, or react. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, there are never any guarantees.
Which means that appointing managers of football teams is essentially guesswork. Yes you can look at their history in previous roles, and the successes therein but it needs to be comparable history to make an educated decision doesn’t it?
When Chelsea appointed Mourinho they knew what they were getting. When Crystal Palace hired Pulis they knew what they were getting, and hired him regardless. Rodgers to Liverpool, Allardyce to West Ham, Bruce to Hull City.
Sometimes though it doesn’t quite work out and a toss of a coin might have been a better decision making tool. Manchester United thought they knew what they were getting when they appointed David Moyes and Newcastle can be forgiven for not foreseeing that Pardew has, erm, ‘anger management issues’. I’m sure that the coin that was used to decide on hiring Pochettino is safely tucked away in the Southampton owners safe, ready for next time.
Whilst I accept that hindsight is a football fans favourite tool, let’s look at the managers brought in to take over Premier League teams this season:
I’d always assumed that the most successful managers were those that had been ‘headhunted’ and that the wisest advice was to avoid sacked managers as if they were successful they wouldn’t have been sacked in the first place. This seasons changes would appear to suggest that philosophy is flawed.
Now let’s look at how they’re performing (position and points per match):
Soooo, in terms of league position, the manager with Premier League experience is the one performing best.
Ok, I know that at a glance it doesn’t mean much as there are only 7 managers in the chart, however, as mentioned above I am convinced that Palace hired Pulis to deliver exactly what he has so far.
Apart from Pulis and Mel, all of the other new guys have found the last 8 games a particular struggle (although Solskjaers consistency is Solskjaer all over).
Sherwood skews things a little as he inherited a very strong set of players and had to be a special sort of person to not deliver at least a consistent level at Spurs.
Seems like an appropriate time to look at the managers performance v the previous manager.
In terms of Points Per Match, all new managers except one are outperforming their predecessors and all but two are doing at least as good (bad) with league position.
But, are they performing as well as their owners would’ve hoped when they appointed them?
I would say that, with the exception of Tony Pulis, the answer is a resounding no. Despite changing their managers when they were either in 19th or 20th position, Cardiff, Sunderland and Fulham are still favourites to be relegated and their new regimes have gone out with a whimper rather than a bang.
Pulis has managed a 5 place climb up the table and almost an extra point per game v Holloway, the others are limping around the numbers that their predecessors achieved and who is to say that, if AVB was still in charge at Spurs or if Mackay was kept on at Cardiff that they wouldn’t be in better positions.
Each of the clubs who have brought in new managers during the season will have had reasons for selecting the ones that they did. They might have carried out in-depth statistical analysis of each candidate. They may have conducted hours of interviews and assessments. They may have sat through slides and slides of presentations by hopefuls.
None of it matters.
There are no guarantees.
Hopefully the captain will succeed and the ship won’t sink
So just toss a coin, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.