It’s only the start of October and newly promoted teams QPR, Norwich and Swansea have already dropped thirteen points each. The directors of those clubs must surely be thinking about jettisoning their managers and bringing in new faces. Sure, Neil Warnock, Paul Lambert and Brendan Rodgers won promotion last season – but what have they done recently? Yes, my Chris-Hughton-was-unfairly-dismissed-by-Newcastle axe is still blunt and I have a very sarcastic model of grinder.
This post looks at the performance of the sides in their first seasons after promotion to the Premier League, particularly the outcomes of twisting and appointing a replacement manager mid-season as opposed to sticking with the man who brought them up.
Defining the number of points that was needed to avoid relegation in a particular season is slightly more complicated than it may seem at first glance. Take the bottom of the 2009/10 table. For Burnley, Hull or Portsmouth, the minimum points total that could have led to survival was 35 points, with which a team could have trumped West Ham to 17th place on goal difference. For West Ham, or indeed any team that finished above the bottom three, the smallest number of points that could have been survived with was 30. So the target for survival is either 30 or 35 depending on which team is considered. As such, a line is drawn to both totals and the gap between is filled to create one “line” of increasing width (unless the 17th and 18th placed teams had the same number of points) that represents the points per game boundary of the drop zone.
Be sure to look out for evidence of what I am calling, and soon everyone will no doubt be calling, the Brand-new Boss Boost or BBB. That is the speculated effect of a new manager having an instant positive impact on a team’s results caused not by necessarily being a better man for the job, but by fresh competition for selection or some other superficial change.
I have applied this treatment to the last six seasons and analysed the graphs on a case by case basis. Given the each side’s varying circumstances and the small sample size, it would be foolish to try to draw sweeping generalisations about the merits of keeping your manager. The extrapolated “what-if” totals are, of course, thoroughly hypothetical. When I say things like “had he remained as manager” I mean “had he remained as manager and continued to win points at the same rate”.
Replacing Mick McCarthy gained Sunderland one shiny point.
Wigan and West Ham both had great seasons so their managers were never in danger.
Reading‘s victories, which came in four bursts, were many and Steve Coppell’s job was never at risk.
Neil Warnock kept Sheffield United above the pink line for almost all of the season’s second half but they slipped below it on the last day of the season.
Watford‘s start wasn’t dreadful but they did not come close to troubling the sunny side of the relegation boundary after three consecutive defeats in November. The club stuck with Aidy Boothroyd throughout.
Roy Keane struggled to find survival form until late in the season but Sunderland‘s patience was rewarded.
Alex McLeish won more points per match than Steve Bruce, who left Birmingham to join Wigan, but still came up short. Unlike Bruce, McLeish never once experienced life above the pink line.
Derby would have been better off to the tune of five points (or 45% of their actual total) by sticking with Billy Davies.
Tony Mowbray’s West Brom‘s winless streaks were punctuated by three runs of good form that probably each came at just the right time to convince his bosses to let him see the season out. The first two good spells brought their heads above water but the third did not.
Stoke closed the season very strongly and finished eleven points clear of the drop.
Hull, on the other hand, had an awful end to the season and their huge bulge above the relegation line was almost completely eaten away and they stayed up by a single point.
After back-to-back wins in December, Wolves only really flirted with the top edge of the relegation line and ended eight points clear.
Birmingham went twelve matches unbeaten in the middle of the season.
Burnley‘s dreadful form under Brian Laws could be interpreted as a continuation of a decline that begun under Owen Coyle, although the Scotsman’s great start to the season give him a hypothetical end-of-season total of 38 – eight points clear of the drop.
Alan Pardew’s first match ended Newcastle‘s winless run that had lasted the last five of Chris Hughton’s games in charge. The extent of his improvement over his predecessor depends on how long you think that poor run would have continued under Hughton.
Roy Hodgson’s impact on West Brom‘s point accumulation was not instant, he began with draws in winnable fixtures against Wolves and Stoke, but soon after the improvement was great – raking up points faster than Di Matteo had done even in his impressive start to the season. Had he been trusted with seeing out the season, Roberto Di Matteo would have kept West Brom up by a single point.
If you’re one to put faith in BBB, which I’m not, it would have been just what Blackpool needed to push them over the forty points line.