Does sacking a manager mid-season help?

January has become such a key month in player movement. It turns out that November is the month for managers. A study listed as many as 32 managers in the Premier League getting the sack in November.

Managerial bubble: Slaven Bilic was sacked by West Ham United on November 6, 2017. The team, which was 18th in the Premier League table, is now out of the danger zone, occupying the 12th spot.   -  Getty Images

  After completing my piece on the January transfer window, I was thinking about all the managerial changes that have taken place this season. I decided to do a little research. Some of the facts and numbers I came across (mostly from the unforgiving English Premier League) were intriguing to say the least and I thought this column should be about the men who have the toughest job in modern football.

I remember writing on the subject a while back, but like I said, I was intrigued by a few things since.

All about winning

The stakes in the Premier League are higher than ever and the patience of clubs with their managers seems to be wearing thin everyday. How can you otherwise explain the sacking of as many as five managers in the Premier League by the 12th game week?

The count — if I am not mistaken — now stands at eight. That’s close to half the teams in the League.

In the last column, I spoke about how January has become such a key month in player movement. It turns out that November is the month for managers — except that not all of them move to another club after getting sacked. A study by Sky Sports listed as many as 32 managers in the Premier League getting the sack in November.

I could be wrong, but there seems to be a correlation in the way clubs go about sacking managers at the end of the year and the way they shop during the January transfer window. Even the slightest of doubts in a manager’s ability is met with a pink slip because you don’t want to trust the man to effectively spend your money in the January market.

Does it help?

The big question, however, is, does sacking a manager midway through a season help? I am of the belief that it is a very subjective thing. A change on the touchline could be a masterstroke for one club but a disaster for another. However, the numbers seem to tell an interesting story. Statistics collated over the last 10 years in the Premier League show that in all but one case of a managerial sacking in November, the points-per-game of the club always improved after the changeover. No club in the past decade of the EPL has finished lower than the position in which it was post a managerial change. That is stunning statistics.

But as much supposed ‘success’ the exercise brings, I feel modern-day football could do with some stability. You cannot fathom how tough a job it is to be consistently responsible for delivering results every week. As players, we can have bad days on the pitch, dry spells in front of the goal and injuries, but come back stronger. A manager has no such luxury. It’s a tough job and the incumbents need some time.

Ideas and philosophies

Every manager comes with his set of ideas, ideals and a philosophy that the teams needs to buy into. Once that’s done, it’s about executing it and that is a process. I have been fortunate enough to play under a host of managers and I’ve learnt so much from each one of them.

When I joined Bengaluru FC in 2013, our then coach, Ashley Westwood, decided to play me in a position that was never really mine — on the left in attack. I struggled and went goalless for six or seven games. But he was adamant that his plan would work for me. When the season ended, I walked away with the golden boot award and did it playing on the left.

Three season later, Albert Roca came to BFC and with him came his philosophy of possession-based football. We had a wretched run, where we failed to secure a win in seven games, something very unlike of us. But Mister (Roca) was adamant that we play the way we are training and we went on to win the Federation Cup and make the final of the AFC Cup.

No set formula

Of course, persistence with a manager need not guarantee success, but I believe there is a better chance of succeeding there than with a knee-jerk reaction. If the plan has substance, you have to back it and the rewards will come.

We don’t live in an ideal world and there is so much more — than just the way you play — at stake, which makes a manager’s job a big ask. At the end of it, there are no sure-shot recipes for success with regards to sticking with a manager or getting rid of him