Sacrificing Long-Term Stability For Short-Term Success, a Sought Out Plan or Just a Knee Jerk Reaction?
A second exclusive by Utkarsh
“West Ham have done a fabulous job in the last 3 years, staying in the premier league and breaking into the top 10”. These words would only be imagined by someone who doesn’t have much knowledge of the league or has just started watching. The rate at which the clubs change managers is astonishing and deplorable to say the least. Barring some clubs (not anymore I think) they would have lost count as to how many people they have changed in the last 10 years. Most of them are mid-table teams whose objective is to stay in the premier league with no concrete future plans. Burnley have been a prime example of looking at long-term benefits and reaping rewards, the most recent being their 7th place finish in the Premier League.
West Bromwich Albion
But on the other hand, a team like West Bromwich Albion who have been in the Premier League since 2008 (barring 2009-10 season) have changed 12 managers since 2009. Their lowest finish came last season when they finished bottom of the pile but even in the previous seasons, they were hovering around the mid-table area.
West Brom had 4 caretaker managers in between and 8 full-time managers in a span of ten years. Tony Pulis’ record in his last season was poor, only winning once in August till his sacking in November. If the aim was to stay in the premier league West Brom managed to do it for 9 seasons before finally going down in 2018.
Swansea’s is an interesting case because Brendan Rodgers got them to the Premier League via playoffs and finished 11th in the first season. Then Rodgers signed a deal with Liverpool the following season and Michael Laudrup was given the task of guiding the Welsh team. They did one better, finishing 9th but Laudrup was sacked following a bad run of results in February 2014, leading to Garry Monk taking over the side. In the 2014/15 season Swansea finished 8th with their highest ever points tally. But later that year, Garry Monk was sacked in December 2015, replaced by Francesco Guidolin who presided over a 12th place finish but sacked again that year in October.
Bob Bradley, an American lasted only 85 days in the job. Paul Clement was appointed to stabilise the team till the end of the season and he succeeded, finishing 15th. Clement didn’t last long as he was replaced by Carlos Carvalho who couldn’t help the team stay up. What Swansea and teams like them do is they go for a quick fix rather than looking at long-term prospects. Laudrup and Monk should have been given the resources and most importantly the time to help build a team. Sacking managers lead to structural & tactical changes which new personnel take time to adjust to.
The Blues are a top example when it comes to big teams. They have been one of the most successful units since 2008 winning 11 trophies. But they have had a habit of changing managers frequently. In 2008 when Chelsea appointed Luiz Felipe Scolari, there was optimism surrounding the club because they were getting a world cup winning coach. But a run of bad results continued and he was ultimately sacked in February 2009, 7 points adrift of the summit. The difference wasn’t that big to relieve someone of his duties but there were other reasons for the club to take this step. Personal issues and lack of communication led to the ultimate downfall. Guus Hiddink was appointed interim manager till the end of the season. In the 2009-10 season Carlo Ancelotti was appointed as the head coach who in his first season guided them to The Double.
2010-11 saw Chelsea end without a trophy but finishing 2nd in the table. Roman Abramovich was quick to dismiss the Italian and appoint the highly rated Andre Villas-Boas for the start of the new season. Villas-Boas ended up undoing the work his predecessors did by finishing 6th. Interim managers came and tried to steady the ship but it had to be someone who could look at the long-term scenario keeping the club’s objective in mind.
Abramovich reinstated Mourinho as head coach in 2013 but that run only lasted for 2.5 years as Mourinho’s third season syndrome came into effect with Chelsea in 17th position when he was sacked in December 2015. Antonio Conte was named Chelsea manager in 2016 and to everyone’s surprise, won the league comfortably. But the second season wasn’t smooth sailing as Chelsea ended up with the FA Cup but missed out on CL qualification as they finished 5th leading to Conte’s sacking and the club again finding a replacement.
But it’s more of a short-term fix because clubs now don’t believe in appointing managers for a longer stint. Statistical evidence suggests that there is a marginal gain when clubs change managers and it can be seen within the team. In recent seasons a number of managers have been dismissed for losing a handful of games in what might be a short-term blip. Gone are the days when managers like Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson would be at the helm for 20 odd years. Quick fix, but no long-term commitment is the way forward.
Read Utkarsh’s other piece here