Understanding The New Manager Bounce: A Premier League Trend

Updated: 762 Football

The New Manager Bounce is a considerable trend in the Premier League. With managers exiting rapidly, we delve into this managerial merry-go-round; the biggest change in English football.

Understanding The New Manager Bounce: A Premier League Trend
Dan Tracey Data Scientist and Football Editor

Writer, analyst, podcaster, Spurs fan. Three out of four is not bad. If there is a data angle, I will find it.

As the current Premier League season reaches its final third, the pressure is on managers both up and down the table.

The pressure that although can be warded off with an upturn in results, will usually lead to the sack and when a manager is shown the exit door, a new incumbent will be ready to try their luck within the best league in the world.

Luck that chairmen will hope is good in double-quick time and for those who know their footballing lexicon, this means that the “new manager bounce” is full effect. An effect that has the ability to change a club’s fortunes in just a number of weeks.

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This is where our latest data-driven article takes us, as we attempt to answer the eternal question - just how much worth this bounce actually has. Is it really worth its weight in goals or just another fallacy that has entered the game?

To answer this question, we have taken a sample of 159 new managerial appointments that have taken place within the Premier League’s 31-year history. Although we have excluded any installations between the months of May and August. 

While the reason for this is that a summer appointment will do little in the way of bounce – if only because you are starting at zero and in the first and last months of the season, it is either too early to gauge any direct changes or too late, because the damage has already been done.

Now that we have set the stall as to our data criteria, let's take a look at what we have managed to uncover.

HOW MUCH BOUNCE

To truly measure how successful this so-called new manager bounce is, we took each of these 161 managers in the sample and the results from each of their first half-dozen Premier League outings in charge. 

This means with 18 being the maximum measure of the bounce and zero being the lowest, the first thing that we know is that on average, this metric is worth 7.31 points per six-game stretch with any new employers.

Or two wins and a draw to simplify the result a bit further. Not a bad return for those clubs who desperately need points at the bottom of the table. However, it must be remembered that for every success story, there are some nightmare appointments as well.

THE TOP 12

Manager Club Points
Tim Sherwood Tottenham Hotspur 16
John Gregory Aston Villa 15
Gérard Houllier Liverpool 15
Thomas Tuchel Chelsea 14
Antonio Conte Tottenham Hotspur 14
Avram Grant Chelsea 13
Kenny Dalglish Liverpool 13
Glenn Roeder Newcastle United 13
Harry Redknapp Tottenham Hotspur 13
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Of the 161 managers that were recorded in our sample, it is Tim Sherwood’s appointment as Tottenham manager which had the most positive effect. The former Blackburn midfielder earned 16 points from 18 on offer during the end of 2013 and the start of 2014.

While not far behind is the pair of John Gregory and Gerard Houllier and although both have managed Aston Villa, it was only the former who managed five wins from his first six games in charge in the West Midlands.

As for Houllier, his impressive effort came about while manager of Liverpool in 2002 – although this comes with a slight caveat. That being the Frenchman retook the Anfield reins after previously taking time out due to heart surgery.

What is also interesting here, is that two managers picked up 14 points during their first six matches in charge Thomas Tuchel would win a Champions League with Chelsea and Antonio Conte led Tottenham to that same tournament, neither manager would be staying in London long.

However there is something else that needs to be factored in here and if a manager does take over at a perceived bigger club, the collection of points is going to be far easier than someone who takes over a struggling outfit.

This is why Nigel Pearson’s 13-point haul as Watford manager in December 2019, is arguably the most impressive of the top-12 and the only instance where there has been a genuine bounce – although the same point could be made for Harry Redknapp’s arrival at Tottenham in 2008 and Unai Emery's arrival at Aston Villa in 2022.

THE BOTTOM 10

Manager Club Points
Mark McGhee Leicester City 2
Kevin Keegan Newcastle United 2
Stuart Gray Southampton 2
Dick Advocaat Sunderland 2
Paul Jewell Derby County 1
Bryan Robson West Bromwich Albion 1
Terry Connor Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Mick McCarthy Sunderland 0
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Now that we have highlighted the success stories, it is time to shine a light on the horror genre and here we have focused on each of the managers that failed to get a win when looking to apply some form of new manager bounce.

A list that sees eight men in the hall of shame and although Dick Advocaat picked up only two points when he took the manager job at Sunderland, it makes for far worse reading when Mick McCarthy was installed at the Stadium of Light.

Admittedly Sunderland were a lost cause at the end of the 2002/03 season and with the former Republic of Ireland manager recording six straight defeats as the new Black Cats boss, finishing bottom of the Premier League was not all that far away.

Although the name above McCarthy in our list, is one that he also has a strong connection with and after he departed Molineux in February 2012, it was left to best mate Terry Connor to try and keep the Wanderers ship afloat and the Wolves manager position

Something that Connor failed to do and after picking up just one point from his first 18 on offer, it would also mean that Wolves would be consigned to the EFL Championship and his time as a Premier League manager has never been revived since.

OFF TO A PERFECT START

Another angle that we looked at, was whether our 161 managers got off to the perfect start and by this, we mean whether they earned three points after their first game in charge: 

First Game Total %
W 58 36.02%
D 40 24.84%
L 63 39.13%
Total 161 100.00%
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Just 58 out of the 161 (36.02%) managed to get the better of their opposition first time out and for those looking for bounce, 63 out of the 161 sample (39.13%) actually had to make do with a defeat instead. 

However, it is not just a win during the first game in charge which is important, getting momentum going is just as important and next up, we analysed how many men went on a winning streak of any kind: 

Streak Number %
Two Wins 18 11.18%
Three Wins 5 3.11%
Four Wins 1 0.62%
Five Wins 0 0.00%
Six Wins 0 0.00%
Total Managers 161 100.00%
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Of the 161 managers involved, just 18 (11.18%) managed to earn back-to-back wins when taking a new job, while only five (3.11%) have managed to earn a hat-trick of Premier League successes when in a new dugout. 

While a special mention must go to Gerard Houllier, as he is the only man to achieve four consecutive wins while taking the managerial reins – although this does once again come with the caveat of him taking back the Liverpool job after time away.

Which means either five or six wins is certainly the holy grail when it comes to the new manager bounce. Nobody has achieved this accolade as yet, but who knows it may be something that is never ticked off within the confines of the Premier League.

MANAGER OF THE MONTH

A further aspect to consider is when these managers are being appointed and just how valuable that can be to the clubs involved – something that we can measure by the average number of bounce points per month

Month Average Points
9 7.00
10 8.16
11 7.45
12 7.55
1 7.07
2 7.06
3 7.20
4 6.22
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While it is clear to see that the earlier in the season a new manager is installed, the higher average of points that they will earn. Especially if anyone is installed within the month of October, as this is worth an additional 8.16 points.

In footballing terms, that is equivalent of two precious wins and just as many draws from the first six matches and if that is the case, then any ships that look rudderless at the station can easily be turned around.

Seven also seems to be a rather lucky number from anywhere between September and March (excluding October) and after the 31st of December, things begin to take a rather downward turn. If only because this is where the desperation kicks in.

While even though the turn of the year still sees new managers pick up seven points for their troubles, the figures are barely above that of 6.99 and now things are starting to get rather desperate. 

From February onwards, this is when club chairman really do get the jitters and with teams usually down on their luck up until this point, this where the firefighters are asked to take up their posts once again.

A post that is usually tasked with keeping a club out of the bottom three and with points being an absolute premium for those in the lower half of the Premier League, it explains why less are accrued in the penultimate month of the season. 

BOUNCING ABOUT

Our final angle of research looks at this from a club-to-club point of view and with the same 161 manager sample, we can now look at how teams fare when the dice has been rolled in the boardroom.

Club Average Points Per Bounce Switches
Liverpool 11.5 4
Tottenham Hotspur 10.6 10
Manchester City 10.5 2
Manchester United 10 1
Sheffield Wednesday 10 1
Chelsea 9.67 6
Everton 9.29 7
Arsenal 9 2
Coventry City 9 3
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While it is Liverpool who earn the most points per managerial bounce and with their four switches, they have managed to earn 11.5 points on average – just shy of four wins from the first six matches in charge.

Not far off are the London club of Tottenham. They may have made 10 switches in our data sample but on average they are worth 10.6 points, 0.1 more than that of Manchester City with 10.5 – although it has been a rather long time since they have had to crack the emergency manager glass.

Half a point more than their nearest rivals Manchester United when they apppointed Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and also half a point more than Sheffield Wednesday and their appointment of Ron Atkinson. 

In sixth place are Chelsea and with the way they have been going through managers lately, Frank Lampard’s end of season spell during the 2022/23 campaign was certainly one to forget, as their average points per bounce is now 9.67.

The Blues are 0.38 points better off than Everton in seventh, seven switches equating to an average of 9.29 points. 0.29 more than the trio of Arsenal, Coventry and Middlesbrough who round out the top ten.

A LOOK TO THE PAST

Then again, there is perhaps one final aspect to consider, and this is how all this bounce compares to before clubs were in trouble and although our data shows plenty of points on the board, we can now see if the new man in charge were actually worth the risk.

While the best way to do this, is by tracking each of the last six results before a new manager installation. Which means regardless of former managers and or caretakers at the helm, we then also looked at the previous half dozen results for each of the clubs involved.

In doing so, we can now track who offered the biggest bounce of all and which chairmen may have regretted making a switch. First up, we are going to look at which managers oversaw the most positive reversal of fortunes: 

Manager Club Previous Points Bounce Points Difference
John Gregory Aston Villa 1 15 14  
Glenn Roeder Newcastle United 1 13 12  
Brian Kidd Blackburn Rovers 1 12 11  
Harry Redknapp Tottenham Hotspur 2 13 11  
Darren Moore West Bromwich Albion 0 11 11  
Roy Hodgson Crystal Palace 2 13 11  
Sam Allardyce Blackburn Rovers 0 10 10  
Mike Walker Everton 1 11 10  
Steven Gerrard Aston Villa 3 12 9  
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Once again it is John Gregory who must receive the most praise. Because although we mentioned that he earned 15 points from his first six games in charge, what we failed to mention, was Aston Villa only scored a single point in the six before.

A bounce of 14 points were afforded to the Villa Park outfit and this puts Gregory two points clear of Glenn Roeder, who managed a 12-point bounce once he had overseen six matches as manager of Newcastle.

While not many people will have forgotten Harry Redknapp’s exploits as Tottenham manager and the turnaround job was rather swift at White Hart Lane. One that saw his predecessor Juande Ramos earn just two points in the eight games prior, whereas the father of Jamie earned 13 points in six.

Although the most special of mentions must surely go to the pair of Darren Moore and Sam Allardyce. If only because neither West Brom or Blackburn had recorded a point in the six matches before their respective appointments.

Fast forward a half dozen games later and Moore had almost made the greatest escape of all at the Hawthorns. Almost but not quite, as although 11 points out of 18 were scooped up, it was not enough to keep the Baggies up.

Of course, keeping teams up is exactly what Sam Allardyce does and that is what he achieved at Ewood Park during the 2008/09 season. While picking up 10 points from the first 18 on offer would have gone a considerable way towards achieving such a feat. 

Then again, we do not need to go to deep into the past when it comes to managers with the most bounce and with Roy Hodgson returning as manager of Crystal Palace, the wily old fox would lead the Eagles to 13 points in his first six matches.

11 more than what the South London outfit earned in their previous six matches. Palace would eventually stay clear of the relegation zone but without the return of Hodgson, it could have been a far different story.

A LOOK TO THE WORST

Now that we know the managers who oversaw the biggest bounce when compared to previous fortunes, we can now look at those men who hardly hit the ground running at best and were a disaster at worst:

Manager Club Previous Points Bounce Points Difference
Stuart Gray Southampton 16 2 -14  
Roberto De Zerbi Brighton & Hove Albion 13 5 -8  
Roy Evans Liverpool 12 7 -5  
George Graham Leeds United 8 3 -5  
Velimir Zajec Portsmouth 8 4 -4  
Sammy Lee Bolton Wanderers 8 4 -4  
Frank Lampard Chelsea 8 4 -4  
Bryan Robson West Bromwich Albion 5 1 -4  
Tony Adams Portsmouth 11 8 -3  
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Although Southampton fans would have been keen to forget the tenure of Stuart Gray as manager, they will now get a painful reminder and one that comes in the form of earning just two points from his first six matches in charge.

A tally that was a world away from Glenn Hoddle’s final few weeks as manager of the Saints and when you consider that the former England boss was subsequently poached by Tottenham, those 16 points earned from the 18 available were sorely missed.

While Brighton will surely be rewarded for not panicking when Roberto De Zerbi was installed as the current manager of the Seagulls. The South Coast Club picked up 13 points under Graham Potter, the Italian earned five from his first six matches but the club are flying up the Premier League table now.

Another name of interest is Roy Evans and although his tenure as Liverpool manager saw him earn the League Cup in 1995, he got off to a rather slow start at Anfield. One that only saw him earn seven points from 18 and five less than what Graeme Souness achieved before he got the sack. 

While this was the difference by the time George Graham had been in the Elland Road hotseat for six matches and although Howard Wilkinson only managed eight points before being shown the exit door, his replacement only managed three points by comparison.

From here, there are a cluster of managers who were four points worse than their predecessor and although Bryan Robson got off to a rather slow start as manager of West Brom, he would eventually keep the Baggies up on the final day of 2004/05 season.

While Sammy Lee had a difficult task at Bolton, one that came in the way of taking the reins from Sam Allardyce and although Big Sam’s replacement was an incredibly good number two, his talents as a number one were something to be left desired.

To finish our list, we have seven managers who were three points worse off than the stretch of results beforehand and perhaps the most striking name on this list is Arsene Wenger. He may have won three Premier League titles, but it was not the bounciest of starts at Arsenal.

Admittedly he is being compared against a rather high value, so his first few weeks were not an absolute disaster but after then chairman David Dein waited so long to get the Frenchman installed as manager, his return was 11 points from 18.

Then again, the other six managers in this subgroup would have killed to return 11 points from 18 and once again Terry Connor is entered into the hall of shame. Although Wolves only earned four points in the six games before his appointment, he himself only managed a paltry one. 

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CONCLUSION

Which means if you are a club chairman who is reading this and subsequently has employment issues during the 2023/24 season, here are some things to consider: 

The bounce is worth two wins and a draw on average (across six matches)

Make your managerial change in October

You have a 36.02% chance of that change of leading to a win in their first game in charge

Methodology

Source: Wikipedia. Data Correct as of February 2024.

Meet The Expert - Dan Tracey

Dan Tracey is a multi-talented writer, data analyst and podcaster whose six-year career in the sports data sphere has seen incredible successes. From helping UEFA create their annual technical reports to writing articles for Sports Betting Websites including sites like TheLinesUS and Goal - there's no shortage of areas where his expertise shines through! In addition he can be heard on podcasts lending an insightful voice as well as providing weekly betting angles - all culminating with him teaming up OLBG.com in the present day. Simply put: wherever you find angled data being crunched? You'll also likely find Dan not far behind!

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