The conundrum that faces every Premier League owner at some point – to stick or twist.
Over the past 12 months we’ve seen plenty of clubs opt for a switch in the dugout in search of better results whilst some, namely Chelsea, Southampton and Leeds, sacked two managers in the same season, although neither reaped the rewards for it come the end of May.
Stability and managerial careers don’t really go hand in hand, but some clubs proved that it was indeed time to go for the man in the dugout as their fortunes improved drastically after a new manager came in, Aston Villa perhaps the most obvious example as they secured European football.
The riches of the Premier League often mean it is those at the bottom who are more likely to change their manager, but not all of them enjoyed the rewards. The Athletic has showcased how clubs improved – or got worse – after they wielded the axe.
Aston Villa – 10 places gained
Sacked Steven Gerrard, hired Unai Emery – were 17th, finished 7th
A 3-0 defeat at Fulham in October left Villa floundering near the bottom of the table and Gerrard paid the price with the hierarchy at Villa Park opting to bring Emery back to England after his failed stint at Arsenalalbeit he’d rebuilt his reputation in Spain. His stock remains on the rise after delivering European football.
Wolves – 5 places gained
Sacked Bruno Lage, hired Julen Lopetegui – were 18th, finished 13th
There is doubt over whether the ex-Real Madrid boss will stay, but he certainly proved his managerial credentials by comfortably steering Wolves clear of the drop amid previous relegation fears. Lopetegui has now claimed finances may force him to leave Molineux, which would be a blow given his capabilities.
Bournemouth – 2 places gained
Sacked Scott Parker, hired Gary O’Neil – were 17th, finished 15th
For some the change ended up producing the manager of the season with so many backing the Cherries for an immediate return to the Championship. O’Neil had Bournemouth safe with several games to spare after masterminding some notable wins, particularly at Tottenham.
Everton – 2 places gained
Sacked Frank Lampard, hired Sean Dyche – were 19th, finished 17th
The minute the Toffees hired Dyche they increased their chances of surviving ten fold and, although it took until the final day, that proved to be the case. A win over Arsenal in his first outing as boss showed the gritty determination necessary to preserve their top flight status.
Crystal Palace – 1 place gained
Sacked Patrick Vieira, hired roy Hodgson – were 12th, finished 11th
They may have only made a minimal rise up the table, but the improvement was huge. The Eagles hadn’t won in 12 when the Frenchman was finally sacked and were in free fall, heading for a relegation battle. Hodgson registered four wins in six games to guarantee safety, but he may have taken his final game as a manager.
Leicester – 1 place gained
Sacked Brendan Rodgers, hired Dean Smith – were 19th, finished 18th
18th or 19th are as bad as each other because, regardless of their little rise, the Foxes are heading for the Championship with the most expensive squad to ever face the drop. Smith wasn’t able to lead any type of renaissance, despite picking up three points on the final day, leaving Leicester with some major problems over the summer.
Southampton – no change
Sacked Nathan Jones, hired Ruben Selles – finished 20th
The Saints had long looked doomed and Jones was unable to enjoy any new manager bounce, enduring one of the Premier League’s shortest ever tenures. It left his Spanish replacement with an impossible task and Southampton’s relegation was confirmed with several games to go.
Chelsea – 1 place lost
Sacked Graham Potter, hired Frank Lampard – were 11th, finished 12th
Todd Boehly handed Potter his first job at a major club, coupled with a five-year deal as he spoke of a long-term project that failed to last 12 months. Potter struggled to settle on a starting XI, not helped by the continued recruitment around him, but never looked at ease in the role and it was no surprise when he was axed, albeit Lampard’s horrific interim spell saw him lose six of nine games.
Southampton – 2 places lost
Sacked Ralph Hasenhuttl, hired Nathan Jones – were 18th, finished 20th
Another sacking that was by no means a surprise, but those at St Mary’s certainly didn’t get their recruitment right. In the midst of a relegation battle they turned to a man who, whilst having an impressive football league record, had no experience of coaching in the top flight.
Leeds – 2 places lost
Sacked Jesse Marsch, hired Javi Gracia – were 17th, finished 19th
Some fans had issue with Marsch’s style of football and a defeat at relegation rivals Nottingham Forest was the final straw for the American. Gracia won crucial games against those around them, but a horrendous defensive record led to some brutal defeats and he went after just a hand full of games in charge as Leeds’ mess continued.
Leeds – 2 places lot
Sacked Javi Gracia, hired Sam Allardyce – were 17th, finished 19th
As mentioned above, heavy losses saw Leeds booed off at Elland Road and a second change was made in a matter of months. The club’s bosses turned to Allardyce as they sought the ultimate great escape, but even Big Sam couldn’t pull it off despite a huge bonus waiting if he did. A draw and three defeats in his four games was the best he could offer.
Tottenham – 3 places lost
Sacked Cristian Stellini, hired Ryan Mason – were 5th, finished 8th
The Italian never looked the right fit and, after a shocking 6-1 defeat at the hands of Newcastlehe was relieved of his duties with Mason, once more taking over for a short period. The toxic atmosphere around the club didn’t help the rookie coach, who is keen on taking the role permanently with the job still vacant.
Tottenham – 4 places lost
Sacked Antonio Conte, hired Cristian Stellini – were 4th, finished 8th
It was a rant that seemingly insulted and took aim at everyone involved at the club that left Tottenham with no decision but to axe Conte, who looked like he was trying to talk his way out of the job. Giving the role to his No 2 though raised eyebrows and he only lasted a month.
Chelsea – 6 places lost
Sacked Thomas Tuchel, hired Graham Potter – were 6th, finished 11th
On paper it looked a shocker – axing a Champions League winner weeks into the season and hiring the Brighton boss. Boehly clearly wanted his own man and took the first bad defeat at his chance to axe the German, who was popular among the fans. No doubt Tuchel, who has since won the Bundesliga, will have been noticed how Chelsea slipped down the table to record their worst season in well over two decades.