Does replacing a manager improve a club's odds of survival?
Just like every other year, football's managerial merry-go-round has continued to turn during the 2020-21 Premier League season. However, the first managerial change of this season was relatively late compared to some others, as Slaven Bilic was replaced at West Brom by Sam Allardyce in mid-December, the Baggies hierachy hoping that Big Sam's proud record of never having suffered a relegation would stay in tact, something that now looks increasing unlikely. In betting terms, Ladbrokes' new customers would have followed Sheffield United's disastrous start to the campaign and expected Chris Wilder to be the big favourite to leave his post next. However, the Blades looked like they were standing by their man, and many pundits thought they were doing the right thing - keeping a manager in place to bring them straight back up from the Championship. So it was something of a surprise when the Bramall Lane club announced his departure on the 13th of March, clearly giving a new manager little time to save them but also meaning that they needed a manager who was capable of getting them promoted, something that clearly Chris Wilder had the best credentials for!
So what about other previous Premier League managers? Whether they were sacked, resigned, or left by mutual consent, how early did they leave and how did their teams fare after their departure?
2022-23: Thomas Tuchel
Having been one of the club's few stabilising factors as it went through the turmoil of Roman Abramovich being forced to sell the club following the events in Russia and Ukraine, it seemed very harsh when Tuchel was sacked on the 7th of September. Chelsea's new owner, American magnate Todd Boehly, clearly had other ideas on how he wanted the club run and brought in Graham Potter from Brighton. However, Tuchel’s early sacking isn't the earliest time for a manager to be dismissed since the Premier League started - in the 2008-09 season, Alan Curbishley of West Ham and Kevin Keegan of Newcastle Utd, had both keft their posts by the 4th of September.
2019-20: Manuel Pellegrini
West Ham Utd replaced Manuel Pellegrini with David Moyes, just after Christmas 2019, with the Hammers in 17th place. Whilst Moyes kept them in the Premier league, they only finished one place higher, in 16th position. However, the move looked more than justified one season later as West Ham suprised everyone as they challenged for a Champions League place.
2018-19: Slaviša Jokanovic
Fulham parted company with Jokanovic on November 14th, after a run of seven consecutive matches without a win, saw the Cottagers sit bottom of the table. He was replaced by Claudio Ranieri who didn’t fare much better, spending just three months at the West London club before being sacked himself. At this point, Fulham were nineteenth in the table and despite the best efforts of Scott Parker who managed a run of three successive wins in April, Fulham were consequently relegated back to the Championship.
2017-18: Frank de Boer
Crystal Palace sacked former Dutch defender de Boer, just four games in - after the Eagles had failed to pick up a single point, or score a single goal. Already bottom of the table at that early stage, it would be the position they’d remain in until December, despite the efforts of new manager, Roy Hodgson. The former England boss turned the Eagles fortunes around, leading the club to safety and a respectable eleventh place finish, which included four wins from their final five games. No team had ever survived relegation from the Premier League, having lost their first seven games.
2016-17: Francesco Guidolin
Swansea parted company with Guidolin on his birthday of all days, with the Swans sitting just above the drop-zone after failing to win a game since the opening day of the season. His replacement was former USA and Egypt boss, Bob Bradley, who was deemed to be a long-term appointment by Everton Chairman, Huw Jenkins. However, the Swans continued their poor form, winning just one match in the whole of December and the American was dismissed after just 85 days in charge. Paul Clement took to the helm and eventually led the Welsh club to safety.
2015-16: Dick Advocaat
Ahead of the 2015-16 campaign, Sunderland had convinced their boss Advocaat not to retire, but after a run of eight games without a win, the Dutchman resigned. He cited a frustration in a lack of transfer funds for his departure, with the Black Cats nineteenth. No-nonsense manager Sam Allardyce took over and despite a mixed bag of results, which saw the Mackems lose every game in December, but go the final month unbeaten, Allardyce managed to keep Sunderland up by two points - in turn, sending their bitter rivals Newcastle United down.
2014-15: Neil Warnock
Warnock took charge of Palace at the start of the season, as Tony Pulis walked out on the club just two days prior to the campaign getting underway. Unfortunately for Warnock, he’d last four months in the job, after winning three of his 16 Premier League games and with the Eagles sitting in the drop-zone. Alan Pardew left his post at Newcastle to join Selhurst Park at the turn of the year and dragged the Eagles into the top half of the table, where they eventually finished tenth.
2013-14: Paolo Di Canio
Paolo Di Canio was dismissed by Sunderland on September 22nd, after failing to win any of their opening five games. During this time, relationships between players and manager were fractious, so it was the final straw in the eyes of Chairman, Ellis Short. Kevin Ball was appointed caretaker manager, before Gus Poyet took to the helm the following month and managed to drag the Black Cats out of the mire with four wins from the final five games. Sunderland finished fourteenth.
2012-13: Roberto di Matteo
Roman Abramovich gave di Matteo his marching orders just six months after he’d won Chelsea the Champions League and FA Cup, with the side sitting third in the Premier League - but stuck in a rut of four games without a win. Rafael Benítez was made interim manager and although the Blues still finished third, they won the Europa League Final for more silverware. Benítez left at the end of the season for Serie A’s Napoli.
2011-12: Steve Bruce
There seems to be a recurring theme here - Sunderland relieved Bruce of his duties at the end of November. Having won just two of their first 13 matches and suffering a 2-1 home defeat to bottom side Wigan was enough for Short to say goodbye. Over the coming months, Martin O’Neill managed to steady the ship and although the Mackems were unable to win any of their final eight games, they finished a more respectable thirteenth.
2010-11: Chris Hughton
Hughton was the man to get Newcastle promoted back into the Premier League, but the Toon parted company with him in early December, with the Magpies sitting in eleventh, but on a five-game winless streak. His replacement, Alan Pardew didn’t exactly set the world alight and failed to improve the club’s position, as they ended the season twelfth. However, Pardew stayed on.
2009-10: Paul Hart
2009-10 was a difficult season both on the pitch, and off it, with Portsmouth struggling with financial problems and eventually entering administration. The side suffered the worst start to a season by a top-flight club and so Hart was dismissed in late November. Avram Grant certainly had his work cut out when he took over. Pompey were sat in twentieth from the second game and remained there for the rest of the season. The South Coast club’s fate was sealed when they were docked nine points in March after entering administration.