Competition structures · English clubs · English football · English league · Football finances & business · Football managers · Referees

The Hot Seat Gets Hotter All The Time

Luiz Felipe Scolari and Tony Adams join the list of Premier League managers sacked or replaced this season.

World Cup winner Scolari had only been in the job since June 2008, when he became Chelsea’s third boss in a year.


Portsmouth’s decision to sack Tony Adams after only 16 Premier League games again underlines the pressures of modern management.

The Premier League managers sacked or replaced since the start of the season are:

  • Alan Curbishley, resigned as manager of West Ham United on 3 September 2008.
  • Kevin Keegan, resigned as manager of Newcastle United on 4 September 2008.
  • Juande Ramos, sacked as manager of Tottenham Hotspur on 25 October 2006.
  • Harry Redknapp, resigned as manager of Portsmouth to take over at Tottenham Hotspur.
  • Roy Keane, resigned as manager of Sunderland on 4 December 2008.
  • Paul Ince, resigned as manager of Blackburn Rovers on 16 December 2008.
  • Tony Adams, sacked as manager of Portsmouth on 9 February 2009.
  • Luiz Felipe Scolari, sacked as manager of Chelsea on 9 February 2009.

It makes even less sense to sack a manager after the January transfer window closed on 2 February 2009, as whoever comes in as  the replacement is not in a position to bring in new players before the end of the season.

BBC Sport reports that League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan has called on clubs to give managers more time to make their mark, and quoted him as saying:

“After speaking with Tony this morning, he was very disappointed, particularly for the fans, and very frustrated at only being given 16 games and three months.

That isn’t in my opinion long enough to build relations with the team and the club and all the stakeholders down there.

Earlier in the season, Paul Ince had 17 games at Blackburn and it is a worrying trend.

The average tenure at the moment for a manager is 15-16 months, which is the lowest it has ever been.

At the same time you recognise the pressures the club chairmen are under, particularly in the Premier League, in terms of the financial impact of not keeping your league status.

But you have to look at clubs like Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, Everton and David Moyes and Aston Villa and Martin O’Neill.

Currently, 53 managers have been in their job a year or more, and 34 for two years or more, about the same as on 26 October 2008.

However, the rate at which managers are replaced in the first and second tiers of English football is as high as or higher than it has ever been.  Apart from the managerial changes in the Premier League listed above, the following Championship clubs have also replaced their manager since the start of the season:

  • Queen’s Park Rangers, with Paulo Sousa appointed in November 2008, after Iain Dowie had been sacked the month before.
  • Watford, Brendan Rodgers replaced Aidy Boothroyd in November 2008.
  • Charlton Athletic, Phil Parkinson replacing Alan Pardew in November 2008.
  • Nottingham Forest, Billy Davies appointed in January 2009 after Colin Calderwood had been sacked in December.
  • Derby County, Nigel Clough appointed in January 2009 after Paul Jewell had resigned.
  • Norwich City, Bryan Gunn replacing Glenn Roeder in January 2009.
  • Southampton, Mark Wotte replacing Jan Poortvliet in January 2009.

After a number of managerial replacements by League One and Two clubs between September and December 2008, only Walsall and Leyton Orient have changed managers since the start of 2009.

League One and Two clubs have been forced to face up to the reality of financial constraints much earlier than Premier League and Championship clubs, especially with several clubs entering or on the brink of administration, and without the false promise of the Premier League that lures Championship sides.

In a post on 4 January 2009, I said:

With the cost of relegation from the Premier League as great as it is,  managers of struggling clubs are under constant scrutiny, as chairmen and board of directors of these clubs look at who they want at the helm before spending any money to get the club out of trouble.

Clubs that try to spend their way to safety risk being weighed down by the financial burden should they be relegated in any event.

Further, the pressure-cooker environment of the Premier League is a catalyst for criticism of match officials, who already have a difficult job.

Increasing the number of levels in an expanded European pyramid would reduce the financial burden of relegation.

With the amount of money being spent on football even in difficult economic times, club owners are looking for a faster return on expenditure.

The pressure cooker is at work on the bigger clubs too.

Looking at it more broadly, increasing the number of levels in an expanded European pyramid would enhance revenue while reducing the financial risks.

I suppose no one will listen. Not anyone that matters anyway, and not until the damage is done.

A bit like global warming. Or the meltdown in the financial markets.

How long before football faces up to its own meltdown?

As for the chairmen and boards that appoint managers only to sack them within a year, there’s not much more to be said than:

Whether a manager is any good or not, if the chairman and the board decide within a year of appointing him that he is so bad that he should be sacked or replaced, why was he appointed in the first place?


3 thoughts on “The Hot Seat Gets Hotter All The Time

  1. My comment on Paul Fletcher’s blog today:

    The list of managers by length of current service on the LMA website is ace isn’t it.

    I’ve been using it since at least December 2007 to see what proportion of managers of Premier League and Football League clubs have been in the job for a year or more, and two years or more:

    The figures now are 52 and 32 respectively, largely unchanged.

  2. The number of managers in their current job for a year or more has fallen to 45. The number of managers in their current job for two years or more has fallen to 27.

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