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The Cost of Sacking a Premier League Manager

The Cost of Sacking a Premier League Manager

Halloween has long evaporated but the horrors of a sacking dawn upon capricious candidates whose jobs are on the line. The days of giving a manager time are long gone. Both, the 2013-14 season and 2017-18 season bore witness to the most in-season departures (10). Fast forward to where we’re currently at and you’ll have noticed that 5 managers have already been given marching orders in just over 3 months. To add to the existing misery, all 5 sackings have come in 34 days. 


Sacking in the Premier League


Xisco Munoz was first to catch the contagion after suffering a narrow defeat to Bielsa’s budding side. Sacked after having sat on 14 points, Munoz was replaced by Claudio Ranieri who not long ago suffered a similar fate, not once, not twice, but three times.

Elsewhere, foreigners from the Middle-East deposited a whopping 305 million pounds to purchase the black & white side of Geordie shore, only to withdraw Steve Bruce, their main man-in-charge.


Nuno sacked from Spurs


One rarely hears cases of being sacked 2 months after being awarded ‘Premier League Manager of the Month’. Such was the story of Nuno Espirito. Dean Smith's dismissal came as a result of 5 consecutive defeats marinated with waning patience from the board. Daniel Farke on the other hand produced mixed emotions by ferrying Norwich back and forth in the English divisions. To avoid being stuck in this loop, the club now find themselves on the lookout for a new suitor. 

November happens to be the month with most managerial dismissals during mid-season. So there's surely more to come. However, this article emphasises that manager turnover is neither an effective nor efficient approach.

Cost of sacking a manager

 *Stats from 2017*

Reasons For Sacking

The return of fans and post-pandemic financial pressure has added to the criteria based on which managers get sacked. 

    1. Managers go through a honeymoon period during which the manager is not harshly analysed based on results. However, once that periods ends, a positive co-relation is observed between manager turnovers.
    2. The level of trapdoor - which is every manager’s average number of points scored per game is taken into account. If at all a manager’s performance falls below this, a sacking is imminent. Thus, a sequence of bad results triggers clubs to replace the manager, hoping for better performances afterwards. 
    3.  There is also a famous saying, ‘’A manager is only as good as his last game.’’ This exemplifies the fact that weightage is given to recent games as opposed to earlier ones.

So Is It Worth Sacking a Manager? 

The answer is no. Manager turnover doesn't make a change. The data suggests that when results hit rock bottom and teams are under-performing, the return to expected form is inevitable - with or without sacking a manager.


Ranieri Premier League


Take ex-Leicester City title winning manager, Claudio Ranieri for example. He was sacked 25 games after leading the Foxes to their first Premier League title, as a result of 5 consecutive defeats. He was replaced by assistant Craig Shakespear who instantly produced 5 back-to-back wins until experiencing a dip in performances 4 months later - which consequently led to his early dismissal too. 

Bounce Effect

In almost all cases, the immediate upturn in form after sacking a manager is temporary, followed by a gradual return to average results. On average results improve for the first six games after dismissing a manager, after which, results taper off and return to levels recorded nine games before the sacking. This is the rule, however some cases might have exceptions. 

1. Slaven Bilic

Every low point during his 27-month tenure was followed by an upturn in form - identical to the bounce effect that frequently occurs after clubs sack their manager. 

Slaven Bilic stats

2. Arsene Wenger

Being one of the best in the business, Arsene Wenger experienced similar lows during his 22-year long spell. 

Arsene Wenger stats


At the start of the 2019/2020 season, managers on average lasted for 789 days which is equivalent to 2 years, 8 weeks and 3 days. That's less than one-tenth of Wenger's term at Arsenal. 

In comparison the average life span of a manager in the 2009/10 season was 1301 days - equivalent to 3 years, 6 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. 


How Do Chelsea Compare?


List of managers sacked by Chelsea


The revolving door continues to operate at Chelsea. Roman Abramovich, known for his limited patience has spent an excess of 100 million pounds on sacking managers since 2004 up until Frank Lampard's sacking in 2021.  

So What Should Clubs Do?

1. Clubs should have a well-planned honeymoon period for managers, because if not, it may risk wasting money on sacking managers. If the honeymoon period is set too high, some managers who might turn out to be world class, but unlucky in their first few games might get sacked. Conversely, if it sets the honeymoon period too low, it will risk keeping incompetent managers for longer than their performance would merit. 

 2. Similarly, clubs need a sweetspot to set the level of trapdoor. If the bar is too high, it will sack a lot of managers, some of whom could be going through a sticky spell. On the other hand setting it too low could have mediocre managers still occupy the seat. 

 3. Lastly and most importantly, if the club relies too much on most recent results, a lot of managers would get sacked, as even a short bad spell would lead to a dismissal. However, if the club uses too little smoothing, it will take a long while to sack even those managers whose performance has aged and decayed. 

It shouldn't come as a surprise that extremely high salaries reflect the compensation of managers for job uncertainty rather than for superior quality. If it all could be narrowed down to one cause, perhaps it would be fair to say that the ever-increasing financial benefits in the Premier League is what's causing the itchiness in the boardrooms.

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On the other hand setting it too low could have mediocre managers still occupy the seat.
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