Hire, Fire, Hire Again: The Increasingly Mad Existence Of Premier League Managers

The EPL is the new Serie A when it comes to sackings
13:00, 11 Aug 2023

Who remembers the days when the hiring policies of so-called ‘eccentric’ club presidents over on the continent were the subject of much mirth and derision?

You know the ones, in Italy they call them the ‘mangia-allenatori’ (coach-eaters). Massimo Cellino changed manager 36 times in 22 years as Cagliari president and has since gone on to repeat the revolving-door practice with Leeds United and now Brescia, while the late Maurizio Zamparini saw off more than 40 coaches in 15 years as Palermo chief.

During the 2015-16 season alone, Zamparini hired seven different managers at the Stadio Renzo Barbera for a total of nine spells between them, including one boss – Guillermo Schelotto – who didn’t have the correct coaching badges and had to sit alongside an ‘official’ manager for the duration of his one-month stay. Giovanni Bosi also took charge for five days, oversaw a 3-1 home defeat to Torino, and was fired in order to bring back Beppe Iachini, who had led the Rosanero at the start of the campaign.

In a country whose major cities endure a huge number of street sellers offering any and all short-term purchases from ski hats and sledges to sunglasses and sodas, there might as well have been washed-up football managers sat on rugs by the kerb waiting to be flogged to the next desperate club owner.


It used to be enough to have English football aficionados shaking their heads in disbelief, but nowadays we are sleepwalking into a similar state of affairs in the Premier League. Last season there were a total of 14 managerial changes, up 40 per cent on the previous record for turnover in the division’s 31-year history.

Scott Parker, Thomas Tuchel, Bruno Lage, Steven Gerrard, Ralph Hasenhuttl, Frank Lampard, Jesse Marsch, Patrick Vieira, Antonio Conte and Brendan Rodgers were all relieved of their duties having begun 2022-23 in Premier League jobs. Graham Potter left Brighton & Hove Albion to take the Chelsea gig but didn’t see out the season at Stamford Bridge, with Nathan Jones, Cristian Stellini and Javi Gracia experiencing similar after being appointed midway through the term.

While at the top end of the league there are examples of great stability in Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, and Mikel Arteta’s progress at Arsenal owes much to the club sticking with him during tough times a couple of years back, the overwhelming response to difficulties in the Premier League these days is to go looking for a new head coach.

It is a tactic which can only be claimed to work by supporters of those clubs who have got away with it. Sure, Everton bringing in Sean Dyche for Lampard bailed them out. Yes, Roy Hodgson was successful enough after replacing Vieira back at Crystal Palace. But that same kind of knee-jerk reaction did nothing for Southampton, or Leicester City, or Leeds, the latter of whom went for that old chestnut of calling upon ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce for a failed four-game stint which cost them half-a-million quid in salary.


Even Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, who landed up nowhere near relegation, were both left back-tracking on appointments made during the campaign as the demands of the Premier League cajoled owners into multiple changes of manager. And this practice isn’t going to stop.

Gary O’Neil did a cracking job upon succeeding Parker at Bournemouth but his reward was the sack, and now that he’s landed at Wolves one has to believe they’ll panic and fire him the second they spot troubled waters.

Will Sheffield United overlook Paul Heckingbottom’s great work if he struggles to get his team going early in the 2023-24 season? What will Everton do if their recent form continues? If Fulham don’t match their successes of the last two years, will they have the resolve to hold on to Marco Silva? And are Nottingham Forest going to be as patient with Steve Cooper for another season if this one starts as slowly as the previous one?

The increasing chasm between the top flight and the Championship has become good for nobody. Owners and chairmen crap their pants at the dawning realisation that balance sheets can look very different in the second tier, and the most radical thing they can think of is to ‘Call for Big Sam’, or reach for the latest bright young thing – see Jones, Gerrard, Potter etc. And no number of examples of that policy blowing up in teams’ faces – yes, you Southampton – seems to be enough to put off clueless decision-makers doing the same thing over and over.

Expect to see at least 15 managers lose their jobs in 2023-24. By 2027-28 it will be in excess of 20. The Guardiolas and Klopps will be a thing of the past in no time at all, and in 15 years’ time fans will wonder how it was physically or mentally possible for Sir Alex Ferguson to keep treading the same route to work every day for 26 years without the ground collapsing beneath him.

The Premier League has lost its mind, and is not about to find it any time soon. It makes for absolutely magnificent chaos.


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