From the Canaries archives: New manager bounce - myth or reality?
15:22 07 April 2014
In light of Neil Adams’ appointment ahead of Saturday’s crunch game against Fulham, here is an article which appeared in November 2013 looking at whether replacing a manager guarantees a win in the next game.
“Fresh momentum will see Crystal Palace arrive in Norwich with the wind against their backs today, after becoming the latest Premier League club to benefit from ‘New Manager Syndrome’.
Tony Pulis is set to take charge of his first Palace game, on the back of the Eagles pulling off a surprise 1-0 win at Hull City in caretaker manager Keith Millen’s final match last Saturday.
But just how wary do the Canaries need to be of New Manager Syndrome?
With the pressure already cranked up on City manager Chris Hughton after one win in the club’s last six league games, many fans will study the impact of Pulis’s appointment closely.
It seems the impact of New Manager Syndrome is not as profound as some may think though, in the Premier League at least.
Of the last 10 managers to be appointed mid-season in the English top tier, just three have won their first match in charge and four have not won any of their first three games.
In fact an average of just 40pc of the first five matches of the previous 10 managers to be appointed mid-season have brought wins, with 26pc draws and 34pc losses.
So does changing a manager always bring about an upturn in results?
The ‘honeymoon period’ can sometimes prove pivotal, as Sunderland found when they replaced Martin O’Neill with Paolo Di Canio in March and saw two wins from his first three matches propel them to safety.
But last month the Black Cats brought in Gus Poyet after seeing Di Canio fail to sustain his initial success.
It is that process which various studies have found to be the usual outcome, including a study by Dr Sue Bridgewater, who runs the football management course at Warwick University.
Dr Bridgewater’s studies show there is clearly no set pattern for the success or failure of a new manager, studying the average points per game in the Premier League between 1992 and 2008, before and after sacking a manager.
She concluded: “There is a boost for a short honeymoon period and then performance dips back – and indeed slightly below the level that it was before the club changed manager.
“Between 12 and 18 games after appointment, the points benefit of changing manager has vanished, suggesting that on average there is only a short-term gain and a longer-term negative effect of changing manager.”
But perhaps Norwich chairman Alan Bowkett has already read the work of Dr Bridgewater, as he backed Hughton at the club’s AGM at Carrow Road on Tuesday night.
“We’ll be fine,” Bowkett said. “We’ll be approaching the top half of the table by the end of the season.”
Those thoughts are backed by Rob Mastrodomenico, of Global Sports Statistics, who has also studied the effect of New Manager Syndrome and says: “Teams are essentially a function of what players they have – and while a manager can improve tactics and morale, if you sack someone there are usually some underlying problems.”
As ever with studies of football trends however, statistics and evidence can never be truly reflective because random events can not be accounted for. A violent reaction getting a player sent off, boot studs getting caught in the turf and injuring a star player or a deflected last-minute goal cannot be planned for – those unpredictable actions are what makes sport so dramatic.
So a manager can often not be blamed for everything that goes wrong at a club, but equally their detractors can argue that it is the manager who is in control of which players are on the pitch.
Should New Manager Syndrome strike against City, there are sure to be some Canaries fans calling for the Carrow Road board to take action.
One thing that is certain however, is that New Manager Syndrome is not a certain fix to a football club’s problems.”