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 When is the correct time to fire a manager
Topic Originator: forever black and white  
Date:   Tue 14 Sep 10:44

RESEARCH PAPERS IN MANAGEMENT
STUDIES
WHEN SHOULD YOU SACK THE MANAGER?
RESULTS FROM A SIMPLE MODEL APPLIED TO THE
ENGLISH PREMIERSHIP
Chris Hope

When should you sack the manager? Results from a simple model applied to the
English Premiership.
Chris Hope
Judge Institute of Management
April 2002
Abstract
By the end of October 2001, less than three months into the 2001-02 football season,
21 managers from the 92 English Premiership and Nationwide League clubs had lost
their jobs. Many commentators thought that the clubs were too quick to act. So what
strategy should a football club adopt when deciding whether to sack its manager?
This paper introduces a simple model assuming that a club’s objective is to maximize
the number of league points that it scores per season. The club’s strategy consists of
three choices:
• the length of the honeymoon period during which it will not consider sacking
a new manager,
• the level of the trapdoor, the average number of points scored per game; if the
manager’s performance falls below this, he will get the sack,
• the weight that it will give to more recent games compared to earlier ones.
Data from the last six seasons of the Premiership are used to calibrate the model. The
best strategy is to have only a short honeymoon period of 8 games, to set the trapdoor
at 0.74 points per game, and to put 47% of the weight on the last five games. A club
adopting this strategy would obtain on average 56.8 points per season, compared to a
Premiership average of 51.8 points. It would employ an average of 5.7 managers
every ten seasons, against the Premiership average of 4.5 managers. It would have
sacked John Gregory at Aston Villa and Walter Smith at Everton, but not Ruud Gullit
or Gianluca Vialli at Chelsea, nor Joe Royle at Everton, just.
Priorities for further work include developing the model to include the distinction
between home and away games, the quality of the opposition, the importance of
avoiding relegation, and the different aspirations of different clubs, and applying it to
other leagues than the Premiership

Introduction
The 2001 – 2002 season was an uncomfortable one for the managers of the 92 clubs
in English Premiership and Nationwide League football. By the 26th of October 2001,
18 managers had lost their jobs since the start of the season in August, and Walter
Smith, then Manager of Everton, was lamenting
“I feel managers are being sacked too quickly. I think circumstances placed upon directors in the
financial sense means some are getting panicked into changing their managers too quickly. It means
clubs never get the stability which I believe is so vital to them.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport/hi/english/football/newsid_1621000/ 1621182.stm
Smith’s lament went unheeded, and at the end of October, just five days later, it was
reported that
“Oldham Athletic have sacked manager Andy Ritchie - the 21s

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 Re: When is the correct time to fire a manager part 2
Topic Originator: forever black and white  
Date:   Tue 14 Sep 10:50

Oldham Athletic have sacked manager Andy Ritchie - the 21st manager to leave his club since the
start of August.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport/hi/english/football/teams/o/oldham_athletic/newsid_1629000/1629700.stm
Smith himself was to lose his job in March 2002.
So were the clubs too quick to act? What can we say about the strategy that a football
club should follow in deciding whether to sack its manager?
This paper introduces a simple model of this decision problem. The club is assumed
to want to maximize the number of league points that it scores per season. To do this
it would like to employ the best manager it can. There are five types of manager: poor,
fair, good, excellent and world class. But the club cannot observe the quality of its
manager directly. Instead it looks at results on the pitch.
The club has three choices to make:
• the length of the honeymoon period during which it will not consider sacking a
new manager,
• the level of the trapdoor, the average number of points scored per game; if the
manager’s record falls below this, he will get the sack,
• the weight that it will give to more recent games compared to earlier ones. The
club increases this weight by increasing the amount of smoothing it applies
when keeping track of the manager’s results.
The choice is complicated by the likelihood that a change of manager will initially
inspire the team and get a boost in performance, and then require some time to
rebuild, during which the team’s performance will drop. And even the best manager
will eventually see his performance drop somewhat with age, and even more as his
skills and relationship with the club decay.
Whenever a new manager is appointed, he will demand a contract for a number of
seasons, and a hefty salary. If he is sacked before his contract expires, the club will
have to pay it up, using money that could otherwise have been used to buy success on
the pitch, for example through buying new players.
So the essence of the club’s dilemma is this: every time it sacks a manager it may get
a short-lived boost in performance, but it incurs a substantial cost and a subsequent
period of rebuilding, both of which cost points. But if it doesn’t sack a mediocre
manager, it will continue to perform badly.
If the club sets the honeymoon period too short, it risks wasting money by sacking a
lot of managers, some of whom might have turned out to be excellent or world class,
but unlucky in their first few games. If it sets the honeymoon period too long, it will
keep even poor managers for longer than their performance would merit.
If the club sets the trapdoor too high, it will sack a lot of managers, some of whom
could be superb managers going through a sticky spell. Too low, and even mediocre
managers will never get the sack.
If the club relies too much on the most recent results, it will sack a lot of managers, as
even a short bad patch wi

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 Re: When is the correct time to fire a manager
Topic Originator: forever black and white  
Date:   Tue 14 Sep 10:53


even a short bad patch will lead to dismissal. If the club uses too little smoothing, it
will take a long while to sack even those managers whose performance has aged and
decayed.
The next section describes a model built using the terms in italics in the above
description. Then, results from the English Premiership are used to calibrate the
model, and the records of some well-known managers are examined. The model is
used to explore a range of strategies that a club could adopt, and some general
guidelines are found. Then an optimal strategy is calculated, its implications
described, and it is applied to some real managers. Finally the simplifications of the
model are discussed and some proposals for further research are made

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 Re: When is the correct time to fire a manager
Topic Originator: jake89  
Date:   Tue 14 Sep 12:51

We have 1 point.
We've been leapfrogged by a team with no manager.
We've been beaten by a part-time team with far fewer resources.
Our manager has signed clear duds.
Good players are sat on the bench.
Manager takes zero responsibility.

Forget the fickle world of football, if this were a "normal" job, that manager would be sacked pronto.
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 Re: When is the correct time to fire a manager
Topic Originator: da_no_1  
Date:   Tue 14 Sep 12:52

About half one this afternoon

"Some days will stay a 1000 years, some pass like the flash of a spark"
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 Re: When is the correct time to fire a manager
Topic Originator: Berry  
Date:   Tue 14 Sep 13:52

Quote:

da_no_1, Tue 14 Sep 12:52

About half one this afternoon


You got me all excited…..pah!
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