Over the years, a controversial term has crept into football dialogue. ‘Short-termism’ is a phrase with negative connotation for teams opting for short-term managers, rather than sticking to one manager for an extended period. If a club isn’t getting good and consistent results, managers tend to be in the firing line, and this is where ‘short-termism’ comes into play.
Short-termism provides a quick and short-term impact for the club when owners have mounting pressure from a business point of view, and from the fans. Thus, short-termism is – what seems to be for many clubs – the only viable option, to ensure results for a club particularly in the Premier League. Especially when considering the new increased revenue in the top-tier league from sponsorship deals and broadcasting, it is no wonder owners will do anything to guarantee their club doesn’t get relegated; for clubs it isn’t about loyalty anymore.
As a result, Ticketgum.com sought to find out how prevalent short-termism is in the Premier League, by investigating how managerial changes have differed for every season since the elite League was established 26 years ago, utilising statistics from football websites Transfermarkt.co.uk and Soccerbase.com.
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Ticketgum analysed figures and found that since the Premier League was created in 1992, 10 seasons of out 26 have had more than 10 managerial changes during a single season, which equates to 38% of all seasons. In the current football season, England’s top-flight league has had a staggering 13 managerial changes – an increase of 44% from last season’s nine sackings. Therefore, this season has seen the second-highest number of changes – on par with the 2008/9 total – following 14 manager changes four years ago in the 2013/14 season, highlighting just how rife short-termism is in today’s footballing world. With just two months remaining in the league, it is certainly possible for this season’s total to equal, or even exceed, the record figure from the 2008/9 season.
Which clubs have changed their manager the most?
Ticketgum.com can thus reveal the top 20 clubs who have changed their manager the most in their Premier League history. In first place, by a long mile, is Newcastle United, who have changed their manager a whopping 19 times. In second and third place is Aston Villa and Sunderland, respectively, with 13 changes each. Tottenham Hotspur ranked in fourth place, with 12 managerial changes over 26 years, and Crystal Palace following closely behind with 11.
At the other end of the table, ranking 20th, Hull City has just four changes, alongside Liverpool whom also has four changes, and Manchester City and Queen’s Park Rangers both made five changes over their stint in the top-flight league. Quite surprisingly, between first-place (Newcastle) and 20th place (Hull City), there is a difference of 15 managers.
Out of the top 20 clubs, 12 are currently in the Premier League this season (17/18) and the remaining 8 are relegated. Of the 12 teams, seven of the teams are currently in the bottom half of the Premier League, such as West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City and Crystal Palace. Thus, proving to be a strong case that short-termism is not beneficial for the majority.
For instance, table toppers, Newcastle United, are a prime example of how changing managers frequently is not effective for club progression. For example, whilst under the management of Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle were doing well and even reached 4th and 3rd position in 2001/02 and 2002/03. However, when Robson was sacked for a poor start to the League in 2004, it all began to go downhill, with the club changing their manager consecutively for seven seasons. This resulted in the club reaching the relegation zone, and even getting relegated twice in the last 20 years. On the other hand, despite Tottenham Hotspur being the fourth highest club for the number of managerial changes in history, their spell of short-termism has possibly come to an end now they have settled on one manager for almost 4 years. So far, Mauricio Pochettino has led 206 games in charge for the team – and arguably they’re in the best form and positioning since 1992.
Which managers in the League have been in charge the longest?
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Through further analysis, Ticketgum.com also found that Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton are the only other teams to have had a manager surpass 200 games since 2009, like Spurs. Of the current managers in the Premier League, this season, the only managers to have surpassed 200 games in charge have been Arsene Wenger with 1,220 games in charge of Arsenal, followed by Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe (262 games), Burnley’s Sean Dyche (250) and Mauricio Pochettino who has been in charge for 206 games for Tottenham Hotspur. These clubs are either in the top half or mid-table, showing that having one single manager for a long period of time is better than short-termism.
However, it can be argued that staying committed to a long-term manager can sometimes be counter-intuitive. When you consider Arsenal, despite being under Wenger for 21 years and winning several trophies and fluctuating between 1st and 4th place (averaging around 3rd place over the last 20 years), it is arguable that Arsene Wenger is losing his touch following the recent string of results from Arsenal. Furthermore, even though Tottenham Hotspur are in their best form, and progressing significantly with the number of youth players they have brought in, under Pochettino they have not yet won anything.
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Interestingly, solidifying the claim that short-termism is not a good idea, former English footballer, Stan Collymore, wrote in the Mirror last week:
“Big clubs need stability when it comes to their manager and the Blues’ [Chelsea’s] model of hire and fire offers anything but stability. Finishing 10th, first, then potentially fourth, fifth or sixth shows it doesn’t work. Eventually they are going to run out of top-quality managers willing to do the job.”