When Do Managers Get Sacked?
NFL and football fan. I've seen my two favourite sides, Stoke and the San Diego Chargers play at the new Wembley....and both lost.
Will Nigel Adkins and Mark Hughes keep their jobs? When do managers get fired? Today on the blog Mark Taylor takes a look at the kind of form that gets managers sacked.
Every Premiership team has now completed over a quarter of their allotted matches for the 2012/13 season. It's an ideal time to take stock of your favourite side's performance so far, but the soul searching will be most keenly felt at the foot of the table, where sides find themselves still well adrift of the annual 40 point target that usually guarantees another year of top flight football.
As of November 19th QPR prop up the Premiership following a dour 1-0 defeat at the hands of perennial Premiership survivors, Stoke City and Rangers have just 4 points from their 12 matches. Twelve matches are still likely to be a very noisy sample size, but it's hard to escape the conclusion the QPR are prime candidates to experience another season of struggle.
Scaling up QPR's current points total to a full 38 game season yields just 13 points for Mark Hughes' side. However, the majority of very poor, early season performers see a jump in their points gathering over an actual season, partly because their wretched early form often owes something to none repeatable bouts of bad fortune and partly because January affords a side the chance to reinvest in playing talent. Additionally, fixtures such as the visit of a similarly struggling Southampton side in match week 12 guaranteed points for at least one of the Premiership's bottom two.
Unfortunately for a struggling Premiership manager, chairmen live very much in the here and now and since managers are willing to take credit when good fortune propels their side higher than their true worth, they invariably pay the ultimate penalty when they drop deeper than they truly merit.
It is no surprise that Hughes is currently vying for favouritism in the "Next Manager to Leave" markets with Nigel Adkins, his counterpart on Saturday (indeed one or both may have left their post by the time this post is published). So I thought it may be instructive to look at the average team performance recorded by Premiership sides in the previous quarter of a season, comprising nine matches, immediately prior to a managerial dismissal.
The reason for dismissing a manager are obviously many and varied, but the most frequent is underperformance by the team. Even teams who are considered as universally and permanently successful as Manchester United appointed Sir Alex Ferguson following the sacking of Ron Atkinson while they languished in the bottom two of the old First Division.
Job On The Line
Nine games are going to be influenced by strength of schedule issues, but there's little to suggest that Chairman weigh these considerations above raw points per game achievements over the recent past. Often single matches become "must win" affairs for a beleaguered manager. So for our starting point we need a baseline for the number of points an average side would pick up over nine matches facing an average schedule. Such a side will win around 37% of such matches and draw around 26% gaining an average of between 12 and 13 points along the way.
Below I've charted the average winning record of Premiership teams in the nine games prior to the dismissal of their most recently sacked manager. I’ve also included the current record for the four team managers currently heading the “Sack Race” market.
|Average 9 Game Record Prior To Dismissal||2.3||3.1||3.5||10|
On average a chairman intent on sacking his or her manager has seen his record fall below the benchmark points haul of 12 to 13 points for an average side over the nine game period. In gaining an average of 10 points from nine matches, teams are showing the kind of form that would guarantee survival if repeated over a whole season, but leaves little margin for error.
In the remainder of the table, I've shown the record for the four front running teams in the Premiership sack race and it's easy to see why Hughes, Adkins and O'Neill head the market. Indeed Hughes' current record (as of November 12th) is eclipsed by his sacked predecessor, Neil Warnock who gained 5 points from his final nine matches.
Mancini's presence in fourth place is more indicative of another factor to weigh when considering how likely a manager is to be replaced. Expectation is different for more expensively assembled sides and the likes of Chelsea and indeed Manchester City expect to be competitive in both league and Europe given their expense forays into the transfer market.
Villas-Boas' failure to compete in the Premiership sealed his fate at Chelsea in 2011/12, but it also required a below par run of results which gained just 12 points from his final nine matches before he was finally shown the door. Mancini's City is all but out of the premier European competition, but his strong league showing of 21 points from the last possible 27 probably explains why he is by far the longest priced of the front runners.
Spending For Survival
We can gain an insight into the relationship between transfer spend and expected survival by charting the record of the recently relegated sides from the Premiership. Transfer spend is notoriously difficult to accurately capture, both because of unreliable figures and the effects of inflation. But averaging numbers from a variety of sites shows that relegated sides from the Premiership had a net transfer spend of around £5 million in their demotion year.
By contrast the benchmark team for recent Premiership survival, Stoke City has spent an average of nearly £15 million per season. A shrewd investment by their chairman who has built up two extremely successful businesses, one in catering and on in gambling and therefore, presumably understands the theory of risk and reward. He's risked £15 million, complete with potential sell on value, to win a continued Premiership pot of £45 million.
If we use these ballpark investment figures and apply them to the lesser lights of the Premiership we may conclude that an investment of around £5 million invites a season where survival expectations are limited, but amounts in excess of £10 million give chairmen much higher hopes of a relatively successful campaign.
Southampton invested £28 million prior to 2112/13 and QPR £16 million and injury excuses or poor buys aside, a generous chairman with high expectations combined with poor points returns are extremely likely to see both managers ultimately fall by the wayside.
Read more of Mark's work on his The Power Of Goals blog
And follow Mark of Twitter: @MarkTaylor0
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I think it's all about result whether you have money or not, that should be the bases of things in todays football but of course, we are all looking towards trust as the factor but that is just being ideal in today's world. Di Matteo could sacked today and that should tell us something about the system today. 9 managers for chelsea in 9 years and all of them brought in different results, good and bad, but all end up with a good pension plan.
Nigel Adkins did a great job at Southampton since he took charge and I think he will manage to survive to this bad period! Remember he took the Saints when they were somewhere, on 10th spot in League One and promoted them in 2 seasons into Premier League!