Presenting the inside scoop on the latest Football League news

Does Replacing a Manager Work?

Steve Lomas’ sacking at Millwall earlier today brought the number of managerial casualties in the football league to a total of 17. That means that of the 72 league clubs in the Football League pyramid, 23.6% have changed their manager this season.

Prior to Lomas leaving Millwall, the average length of time a Championship manager spends in one job was 2.26 years.  With Lomas being in the job since June 2013, that figure will come down.  Gone are the days where managers would spend decades with one club.  In fact, outside of the top flight of English football, only two clubs within the 72 league clubs have stuck with a boss for over five years.  Those are Paul Tisdale at Exeter City and Chris Wilder at Oxford United (seven and five years resepctively).

The average duration for a League One manager staying in their job is 1.49 seasons, and in League Two it is 1.97.  This makes the average stay for a Football League manager 1.90 seasons.  Less than two seasons.  With Football League clubs changing their managers with increasing regularity, this brings instability to football clubs, but must also cause financial havoc.  Not only do clubs have to pay off a manager that they sack, but more often than not they are paying off his backroom staff too.  Add to that any payments for managers already in another job, and it becomes quite expensive to do this every two years.  Sack a manager before a transfer window, and then it could become even more expensive as he seeks to bring in his own players and put his stamp on the team.

But is changing a manager statistically worth it?  Do the points returned and any lift in form outweigh the general instability and costs associated with changing manager?  The72 will be tracking manager changes over this season as we attempt to answer the quesion.

There is quite an even spread of sackings across the Championship, League One and League Two so far this season.

FL Managerial Changes

Of the managerial changes this year, only one was by resignation.  Two have been by mutual consent.  The remaining 14 are sackings where the board/chairman has lost patience with the manager and pulled the trigger.



What is interesting to note is that when a manager has been sacked/left/resigned, not one of the clubs so far this season has hired a manager currently employed elsewhere.  Perhaps this is down to the costs and paying compensation to the club that would be releasing a manager.  It could also be down to the higher number of skilled coaches in the game out of work.

Below is a table of clubs that have changed managers so far this season.  What is interesting is that in all but two of the manager changes, there does appear to have been an upturn in form for the clubs, even if it is a minimal change.  Where the difference in points per game before and after the manager left is below 0.25 points per game, you have to question if keeping the old manager would have kept some stability and would that have been the same effect/better?  Carlisle’s points per game increased by 0.73 after sacking Greg Abbott.  However, Carlisle took 10 points from next four games after the sacking.  A look at the League One table now though shows all four of those teams are below Carlisle in the league, and perhaps those would have been the same results with or without Greg.


The three most recent managerial sackings have not been included in the total (highlighted yellow).  Excluding those three Championship casualties, the data so far shows that clubs are 0.37 points per game better off for sacking their manager and replacing.

Sheffield United and Scunthorpe United look like the team who have gained most, indicating that the manager’s may indeed have been holding the team back.  Scunthorpe have been propelled into the promotion places in League Two since the managerial change.

On the other side of the fence, Portsmouth’s decision to dispense with Guy Whittinham’s services is looking poor as they are significantly worse off per game than they were with him.

The72 will keep on top of managerial movements throughout the season and the affect on a clubs fortunes.



Related Posts