As we approach the close of another year, as it is common to do, we begin to reflect on the year that was 2013 – to think about all the events that transpired, new trends emerging, and what we have learned from it all. In the Premier League, one of the glaring constants throughout the year has been the rather unsettling trend of firing the manager. 2013 will go down as the year of the “sack” in the British top flight.
Earlier this year, Business of Soccer talked about the lack of consistency at the helm of BPL clubs in recent years, and that only 4 clubs could claim a constant manager for at least 4 straight seasons. At that time, those men were Sir Alex Fergusen, 26 years with Manchester United, Arsene Venger, 17 years with Arsenal, David Moyes, 12 years with Everton, and Tony Pulis, 7 years with Stoke City. At just shy of the mid-point of the 2013-14 campaign, only 1 of these managers has remained with his aforementioned club and continues his streak: Arsene Venger at Arsenal.
Granted, the retirement of Sir Alex Fergusen was well deserved and obviously cannot be considered to be a firing, however, it did lead to David Moyes leaving his long-time club Everton to replace him at Old Trafford, further perpetuating the inconsistency trend at the manager position. Pulis was let go at Stoke after 7 years of service, leaving Venger the only manager to have been with his current club longer than 3 years.
As the above infographic from Business Insider depicts, 11 clubs, or 55% of Premier League sides, have a manager that has no more than a year under his belt in charge at his current employer. The results-driven environment that has evolved in the world of elite football has led to such changes. It is a delicate balance between consistency for the better interest of the team and winning trophies and bringing in money. With the rate of increase the industry has seen for the price of top talent and other operating costs, that scale has started to tip in the favor of check marks in the ‘W’ column, to the detriment and demise of many managers.
Clubs spent more this transfer window than any in history to acquire some of the most exceptional players in the world. No club spent more in the transfer window in the Premier League this past summer than Tottenham Hotspur, and they currently sit in the 7th position at the mid-point of the season, with a couple high mark losses to both Manchester City and Liverpool. At this point in the season, the expectations were to at least be in contention for the top 4 positions of the table for a Champions League berth, but the club’s current run of form would suggest that they would be lucky to finish in the top ten if trends continue.
Ownership at Tottenham did not want to wait any longer to see Andre Villas-Boas’ ever-changing line up begin to click and turn in results, so in Premier League fashion, he was dismissed after their 5-0 loss to Liverpool in mid December. Cardiff City has also recently made headlines because it has been rumored that owner Vincent Tan has given manager Malkay Mackay an ultimatum to either resign from his post or be dismissed.
What Vincent Tan and other like-minded owners need to take into consideration are some of the adverse effects that inconsistency at the manager position can have for a club. These are not just limited to negative player reactions and performances, but could also cause unrest with the fans and other key stakeholders.
In the business of sports, winning is the ultimate driver – there may be other opinions, but the crux of all competition is to win. That pressure, or desire in many instances, is what has lead to unbelievable pressure on managers to get their clubs to perform and get the wins. The need for the constant voice and vision to steer the club along has been forced to play second fiddle to those wins. The balancing act clubs need to perform is a tricky one to be sure in order to gain both, but let us hope that for the managers’ sake that their positions prove to be somewhat more stable in 2014.