Do New Managers Lead To Better Results For Football Clubs?

new mindset new resultsWe’ve all heard someone in the football commentariat say it at one point or another, that a club is likely to respond well because of ‘new manager bounce’. The idea is that a new manager arriving to work with a team will see said team improve their results simply because the old guy in the dugout has been given his marching orders and someone else is sitting in the hot-seat. If your club is the next one due to play the side that has seen a changing of the guard, the panic sets in and fans convince themselves they’re destined to lose.

The question is, is this fear justified? Do teams actually improve when one manager is sacked and another one is brought in? It goes without saying that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to that, but we can look at a selection of different teams to see whether or not there is a pattern. Football fans, of course, are naturally superstitious and anything that changes the status quo will be looked upon with suspicion and fear. When you’re thinking of placing a bet on a team with a new manager, though, you need to think about the cold, hard facts.

Looking At The Evidence

jose mourinho sits alone in dugout

There are numerous reasons why a football club might choose to sack their manager. The reasoning behind that decision, though, is likely to dictate whether or not the new person arriving to work with the team will get the ‘bounce’ that is hoped for. If, for example, a manager has been sacked because the players are under-performing then the likelihood is that a new boss might be able to get a tune out of them. If, on the other hand, the side isn’t doing very well simply because they players aren’t very good at playing football then that’s a different matter.

Clubs that are, to coin a phrase, terribly run will doubtless discover that a new manager will have little-to-no impact on their ability to win football matches. If the problems are from the owners on down then simply opting to change the person in the dugout will almost certainly not influence the outcome of games. Even if the results do improve temporarily, it’s unlikely to be something that lasts and will instead revert to the mean sooner rather than later. In order to get a sense of how often new manager bounce is actually a think, let’s look at some real-life examples.

Here we’re going to look at ten football clubs that have sacked their manager and investigate the results before they were given the bullet and what happened after the new boss has arrived. In order to be as fair as possible, we’re going to look at five results before the sacking and another five results after. We will look across all competitions, which might sometimes include a change of division, depending on when the sacking took place. We’re also specifically looking at sackings rather than a manager leaving for a new job.

Chelsea – 2020-2021

Frank LampardPremier LeagueManchester City (Home)3-1 Loss
Frank LampardFA CupMorecambe (Home)4-0 Win
Frank LampardPremier LeagueFulham (Away)1-0 Win
Frank LampardPremier LeagueLeicester City (Away)2-0 Loss
Frank LampardFA CupLuton Town (Home)3-1 Win
Thomas TuchelPremier LeagueWolverhampton Wanderers (Home)0-0 Draw
Thomas TuchelPremier LeagueBurnley (Home)2-0 Win
Thomas TuchelPremier LeagueTottenham Hotspur (Away)1-0 Win
Thomas TuchelPremier LeagueSheffield United (Away)2-1 Win
Thomas TuchelFA CupBarnsley (Away)1-0 Win

Frank Lampard was one of Chelsea’s most success players, having arrive at the club in 2001 in a deal worth about £18 million to the selling club, West Ham United. The arrival of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich to Stamford Bridge two years later changed the face of football, with the London club soon winning every trophy there was to win, handing Lampard winner’s medal after winner’s medal. In the wake of Maurizio Sarri’s departure from the club, Abramovich turned to Lampard as the club’s new manager.

Sadly for Chelsea’s loyal supporters, a stint in charge of Derby County wasn’t enough for their former midfielder to learn the ropes of management, resulting in him being sacked in January of 2021. Former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel was brought in to replace him, so how did Chelsea do before and after Lampard’s sacking? Above we look at the five results either side of his departure.

Chelsea’s response to the sacking of Lampard was a interesting one. There was no immediate ‘new manager bounce’, given the club drew their first match. They won their next four in all competitions, but the level of opposition has to be taken into account, with perhaps only the match against Tottenham Hotspur being one that they would have been expected to win regardless. It is also worth noting that Lampard wasn’t doing a terrible job in results-only terms, having won the matches they probably should have done.

Sheffield United – 2020-2021

Chris WilderPremier LeagueWest Ham United (Away)3-0 Loss
Chris WilderPremier LeagueFulham (Away)1-0 Loss
Chris WilderPremier LeagueLiverpool (Home)2-0 Loss
Chris WilderPremier LeagueAston Villa (Home)1-0 Win
Chris WilderPremier LeagueSouthampton (Home)2-0 Loss
Paul HeckingbottomPremier LeagueLeicester City (Away)5-0 Loss
Paul HeckingbottomFA CupChelsea (Away)2-0 Loss
Paul HeckingbottomPremier LeagueLeeds United (Away)2-1 Loss
Paul HeckingbottomPremier LeagueArsenal (Home)3-0 Loss
Paul HeckingbottomPremier LeagueWolverhampton Wanderers (Away)1-0 Loss

2020-2021 was a season of managers leaving their post prematurely, though in the case of Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder it was ‘by mutual consent’ rather than as a result of a sacking. Even so, we can look to see whether his departure from Bramall Lane made much of a difference to the Blades, who had made an historically bad start to the Premier League season even whilst they were progressing to the quarter-final of the FA Cup. The table above looks at the last five matches of his reign and the first five of his successor.

Perhaps it is somewhat unfair to look at Paul Heckingbottom’s time in charge of Sheffield United and ask whether he brought the club a bounce, given that he was appointed as an interim manager rather than a new one in his own right. Even so, the side lost all five of their matches following his appointment, having won one of the previous five under Chris Wilder. Ironically, the Blades did win three of their remaining six games, but they took place well after any supposed ‘bounce’ could really be considered to have happened.

Sunderland – 2013-2014

Paolo Di CanioPremier LeagueSouthampton (Away)1-1 Draw
Paolo Di CanioCarabao CupMilton Keynes Dons (Home)4-2 Win
Paolo Di CanioPremier LeagueCrystal Palace (Away)3-1 Loss
Paolo Di CanioPremier LeagueArsenal (Home)3-1 Loss
Paolo Di CanioPremier LeagueWest Bromwich Albion (Away)3-0 Loss
Kevin BallCarabao CupPeterborough United (Home)2-0 Win
Kevin BallPremier LeagueLiverpool (Home)3-1 Loss
Kevin BallPremier LeagueManchester United (Home)2-1 Loss
Gus PoyetPremier LeagueSwansea City (Away)4-0 Loss
Gus PoyetPremier LeagueNewcastle United (Home)2-1 Win

It’s fair to say that Sunderland were circling the Premier League’s drain well before Paolo Di Canio was give the boot, with the entertaining Italian actually having been responsible for keeping them in the top-flight the previous season. He was sacked after just five games of the campaign in 2013-2014, however, after the Black Cats endured a rather tough start to proceedings. The table here looks at the results they managed with him in charge and what happened after he was given the bullet.

Kevin Ball took over as interim manager of the Black Cats and enjoyed an immediate win in the Carabao Cup, but given the club’s success in the same competition under Di Canio, it is difficult to argue that that was any sort of bounce. His position was temporary, with Gus Poyet being given the job permanently and taking a 4-0 pasting from Swansea City in his first game in charge. They ended up finishing 14th and reaching the final of the Carabao Cup, so there’s an argument that Poyet did well even without the immediate ‘bounce’.

Tottenham Hotspur – 2003-2004

Glenn HoddlePremier LeagueLeeds United (Home)2-1 Win
Glenn HoddlePremier LeagueLiverpool (Away)0-0 Draw
Glenn HoddlePremier LeagueFulham (Home)3-0 Loss
Glenn HoddlePremier LeagueChelsea (Away)4-2 Loss
Glenn HoddlePremier LeagueSouthampton (Home)3-1 Loss
David PleatCarabao CupCoventry City (Away)3-0 Win
David PleatPremier LeagueManchester City (Away)0-0 Draw
David PleatPremier LeagueEverton (Home)3-0 Win
David PleatPremier LeagueLeicester City (Away)2-1 Win
David PleatPremier LeagueMiddlesbrough (Home)0-0 Draw

It is never easy for a club legend to be sacked, but that’s what the Tottenham Hotspur board felt had to happen in the wake of Glenn Hoddle’s awful start to the 2003-2004 campaign. The former England manager had been in charge of the club for two and a half years, but when Spurs found themselves in the relegation zone after six matches the decision was taken to pull the plug on the one-time midfield maestro. Above is a look at how things were going for the club when he was still in charge and after a new manager was appointed.

Is this the first clear example of a new manager bounce taking effect? Possibly, though it’s unclear how many of the games Spurs will have been expected to win even if Hoddle had remained in charge. The Manchester City that they played was before Sheikh Mansour took over the club, whilst Everton narrowly avoided relegation that season. Leicester City weren’t as lucky and went down, whilst Middlesbrough finished the campaign in 11th place. Even so, no losses for Pleat compares favourably to the three suffered by Hoddle.

Liverpool – 2015-2016

Brendan RodgersPremier LeagueNorwich City (Home)1-1 Draw
Brendan RodgersCapital One CupCarlisle United (Home)1-1 Draw (3-2 Win After Extra-Time)
Brendan RodgersPremier LeagueAston Villa (Home)3-2 Win
Brendan RodgersEuropa LeagueFC Sion (Home)1-1 Draw
Brendan RodgersPremier LeagueEverton (Away)1-1 Draw
Jürgen KloppPremier LeagueTottenham Hotspur (Away)0-0 Draw
Jürgen KloppEuropa LeagueRubin Kazan (Home)1-1 Draw
Jürgen KloppPremier LeagueSouthampton (Home)1-1 Draw
Jürgen KloppCapital One CupBournemouth (Home)1-0 Win
Jürgen KloppPremier LeagueChelsea (Away)3-1 Win

Brendan Rodgers came the closest to winning the Premier League that any Liverpool manager had done during the 2013-2014 season, but a dreadful follow-up, including a 6-1 loss away to Stoke City on the final day, meant that many supporters wanted him sacked. He clung onto his job into the following campaign, but a 1-1 draw with Everton in October proved to be a poor result too far for the club’s owners. He was given the bullet during the international break and Jürgen Klopp was brought in to replace him, with the following being how results worked out before and after.

Liverpool supporters would no doubt point to the level of effort put in by the players in the 0-0 draw away to Tottenham Hotspur as proof that they did indeed get a bounce from Jürgen Klopp’s arrival, but in terms of pure results things didn’t change dramatically until they won away at Stamford Bridge. Prior to that things carried on much where they left off, with draw following draw. Given the Reds went on to win the Champions League and Premier League in future seasons, there’s no question that the appointment of Klopp was a good one, but there wasn’t an immediate ‘bounce’ following his arrival.

Charlton Athletic – 2006-2007

Iain DowieLeague CupBolton Wanderers (Home)1-0 Win
Iain DowiePremier LeagueNewcastle United (Away)0-0 Draw
Iain DowiePremier LeagueManchester City (Home)1-0 Win
Iain DowieLeague CupChesterfield (Away)3-3 Draw (4-3 Win After Extra-Time)
Iain DowiePremier LeagueWigan Athletic (Away)3-2 Loss
Les ReedPremier LeagueReading (Away)2-0 Loss
Les ReedPremier LeagueEverton (Home)1-1 Draw
Les ReedPremier LeagueSheffield United (Away)2-1 Loss
Les ReedPremier LeagueBlackburn Rovers (Home)1-0 Win
Les ReedPremier LeagueTottenham Hotspur (Away)5-1 Loss

Iain Dowie always had a tough act to follow when he was brought in as Alan Curbishley’s replacement, given the fact that Curbishley had been managing the club for 15 years. He reportedly beat out over 20 possible replacements to become Addicks boss, having previously left Crystal Palace by mutual consent. Things didn’t go to plan for him, however, with the club suffering four defeats and managing just one win in his first five competitive games in charge. Above we look at what happened before he was sacked and once the new manager arrived.

It would be difficult for even the most myopic of supporter to decide that Charlton Athletic enjoyed a new manager bounce after the departure of Iain Dowie and the temporary appointment of Les Reed. Even if you fast-forward to the appointment of their next permanent manager in Alan Pardew things don’t get much better. Pardew drew his first game in charge, won his second and then lost the next three. Given they were relegated at the end of the season and haven’t returned to the top-flight since, it’s fair to assume mismanagement at the highest level of the club.

West Bromwich Albion – 2020-2021

Slaven BilicPremier LeagueManchester United (Away)1-0 Loss
Slaven BilicPremier LeagueSheffield United (Home)1-0 Win
Slaven BilicPremier LeagueCrystal Palace (Home)5-1 Loss
Slaven BilicPremier LeagueNewcastle United (Away)2-1 Loss
Slaven BilicPremier LeagueManchester City (Away)1-1 Draw
Sam AllardycePremier LeagueAston Villa (Home)3-0 Loss
Sam AllardycePremier LeagueLiverpool (Away)1-1 Draw
Sam AllardycePremier LeagueLeeds United (Home)5-0 Loss
Sam AllardycePremier LeagueArsenal (Home)4-0 Loss
Sam AllardyceFA CupBlackpool (Away)2-2 Draw (3-2 Loss On Penalties)

Slaven Bilic was the manager that saw West Bromwich Albion promoted back to the Premier League at the end of the 2019-2020 Championship season, but he couldn’t get the team to carry that form on into the new campaign. The club gave him a decent chance, but in the end it was decided that they needed to bring in the help of an expert if they were to survive. Sam Allardyce had earned a reputation as a fire-fighting manager, even if his England career had ended in disgrace, but could he rescue the Baggies?

Having previously managed seven clubs in the Premier League without being relegated, Sam Allardyce was finally consigned to the drop courtesy of West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies didn’t enjoy much of a bounce after his appointment, losing four of his first five matches in charge. The only match that didn’t end in defeat was a surprise one against Liverpool at Anfield, but when you consider that the Baggies had drawn with eventual league winners Manchester City before Bilic’s departure, even that wasn’t much of a result.

Bolton Wanderers – 1995-1996

Roy McFarlandCoca-Cola CupNorwich City (Home)0-0 Draw (3-2 Loss On Penalties)
Roy McFarlandPremier LeagueTottenham Hotspur (Away)2-2 Draw
Roy McFarlandPremier LeagueLeeds United (Home)2-0 Loss
Roy McFarlandPremier LeagueCoventry City (Home)2-1 Loss
Roy McFarlandPremier LeagueSheffield Wednesday (Away)4-2 Loss
Colin ToddFA CupBradford City (Away)3-0 Win
Colin ToddPremier LeagueWimbledon (Home)1-0 Win
Colin ToddPremier LeagueNewcastle United (Away)2-1 Loss
Colin ToddPremier LeagueBlackburn Rovers (Away)3-1 Loss
Colin ToddPremier LeagueAston Villa (Home)2-0 Loss

It is often described in the sports pages as being the case that football clubs deliberately sack their manager in the hope of getting a new manager bounce. If that was Bolton Wanderers’ plan during the 1995-1996 season then they would have done better to appoint someone other than the assistant manager to the role. Though the side’s form under Colin Todd would have been enough to keep them up if they’d shown it all season long, the question is, did he offer them a bounce when he took over the main job from Roy McFarland?

Ultimately, whether a new manager gets a bounce or not in your eyes will depend entirely on how quickly you think it should happen and how long you believe it should last. There’s no doubt that Bolton benefitted from Colin Todd being put in charge in the short-term, thanks to two wins back-to-back after defeats and draws under Roy McFardland. The honeymoon period was short-lived, however, and four straight losses followed before a 4-1 win over Middlesbrough preceded a 6-0 loss to Manchester United.

Sheffield Wednesday – 1999-2000

Danny WilsonPremier LeagueSouthampton (Home)1-0 Loss
Danny WilsonPremier LeagueNewcastle United (Home)2-0 Loss
Danny WilsonPremier LeagueWest Ham United (Home)3-1 Win
Danny WilsonPremier LeagueWatford (Away)1-0 Loss
Danny WilsonPremier LeagueMiddlesbrough (Away)1-0 Loss
Peter ShreevesPremier LeagueAston Villa (Home)1-0 Loss
Peter ShreevesPremier LeagueWimbledon (Away)2-0 Win
Peter ShreevesPremier LeagueChelsea (Home)1-0 Win
Peter ShreevesPremier LeagueSunderland (Home)2-0 Loss
Peter ShreevesPremier LeagueLeeds United (Home)3-0 Loss

At the time of writing, no manager has lasted longer before being sacked than Danny Wilson managed at Sheffield Wednesday during the 1999-2000 campaign. He got 29 matches before the Owls’ owners decided to pull the trigger, presumably in the hope that the next manager would get to know the team well enough to bring them back up the following season. Peter Shreeves took over as caretaker manager and Wednesday have yet to make it back to the English top-flight.

A home defeat to Aston Villa meant that there was no immediate bounce for Peter Shreeves, but two wins in a row suggests that there was at least some response from the players. That being said, they won two and lost three compared to the record of won one and lost four that Danny Wilson had managed before his sacking, so it wasn’t exactly a return to the glory days. Whatever Sheffield Wednesday’s owners were hoping for when they left it so long before sacking Wilson, things didn’t work out as they were hoping.

Crystal Palace – 2014-2015

Neil WarnockPremier LeagueAston Villa (Home)1-0 Loss
Neil WarnockPremier LeagueTottenham Hotspur (Away)0-0 Draw
Neil WarnockPremier LeagueStoke City (Home)1-1 Draw
Neil WarnockPremier LeagueManchester City {(Away)3-0 Loss
Neil WarnockPremier LeagueSouthampton (Home)3-1 Loss
Keith MillenPremier LeagueQueens Park Rangers (Away)0-0 Draw
Keith MillenPremier LeagueAston Villa (Away)0-0 Draw
Alan PardewFA CupDover (Away)4-0 Win
Alan PardewPremier LeagueTottenham Hotspur (Home)2-1 Win
Alan PardewPremier LeagueBurnley (Away)3-2 Win

Neil Warnock was Crystal Palace manager for 129 matches during his first stint in charge of the club, winning 47 and losing 43 matches, drawing the remaining 39. None of the managers that followed quite lived up to the task, so when Tony Pulis was sacked after 28 games in charge, the desire to bring Neil Warnock back in was an understandable one. Second comings are really what they crack up to be, however, and Warnock was sacked during the festive period, with Keith Millen taking temporary charge and not for the first time.

It’s rare for us to get a chance to directly compare a new manager’s results to those of the old one, but because of when Warnock was sacked we can do exactly that here. Warnock lost at home to Aston Villa, with temporary manager Millen getting a draw in the away game. Alan Pardew went one better, defeating Tottenham at home after Warnock had only managed a draw on the road. Pardew enjoyed three wins as permanent manager, perhaps being the first true example of a boss that enjoyed a bounce after his appointment.

Is New Manager Bounce Real?

ClubManagerFormer, Caretaker Or Permanent Manager?Last / First Result
ChelseaFrank LampardFormer3-1 Win
ChelseaThomas TuchelPermanent0-0 Draw
Sheffield UnitedChris WilderFormer2-0 Loss
Sheffield UnitedPaul HeckingbottomInterim5-0 Loss
SunderlandPaolo Di CanioFormer3-0 Loss
SunderlandKevin BallCaretaker2-0 Win
SunderlandGus PoyetPermanent4-0 Loss
Tottenham HotspurGlenn HoddleFormer3-1 Loss
Tottenham HotspurDavid PleatPermanent3-0 Win
LiverpoolBrendan RodgersFormer1-1 Draw
LiverpoolJürgen KloppPermanent0-0 Draw
Charlton AthleticIain DowieFormer3-2 Loss
Charlton AthleticLes ReedPermanent2-0 Loss
West Bromwich AlbionSlaven BilicFormer1-1 Draw
West Bromwich AlbionSam AllardycePermanent3-0 Loss
Bolton WanderersRoy McFarlandFormer4-2 Loss
Bolton WanderersColin ToddPermanent3-0 Win
Sheffield WednesdayDanny WilsonFormer1-0 Loss
Sheffield WednesdayPeter ShreevesCaretaker1-0 Loss
Crystal PalaceNeil WarnockFormer3-1 Loss
Crystal PalaceKeith MillenCaretaker0-0 Draw
Crystal PalaceAlan PardewPermanent4-0 Win

The ten different managerial replacements we’ve looked at above were chosen completely at random in order to give us a fair sense of whether a bounce for a new manager is a real thing. Obviously what you want from a ‘bounce’ will differ from person to person, but here above is the last result of the previous manager and the first result of each of the new managers, including those that came in permanently after a brief stint from a caretaker.

Of the 12 managers that took over at one point or another, only four of them had a definitively better result than the person that was in the hot-seat before them. That is around 33%, suggesting that the idea of a definite ‘new manager bounce’ is something of a fallacy. That’s not to say that teams don’t improve in the long-term because of a new manager, but considering most football supporters are convinced that their team is going to loss when they come up against a new manager, the facts don’t support this as the case.

If you’re thinking of having a flutter on the likely outcome of the first match of a new manager, the option that you opt for should largely depend on how the team was performing before the new boss’s arrival. Three managers notched up a draw, five saw their club lose their first match in charge and four were winners, so the statistics suggest that a loss is the most likely outcome. Given the length of time it takes a manager to stamp their mark on a club, that is perhaps not all that surprising if you ignore the cliché.