The first managers to go each PL season and what effect it had…

Date published: Monday 9th September 2019 1:09

The logic in making an early managerial change is usually found in giving a replacement enough time to turn a season around. But that isn’t always how it turns out. In fact, only four times in the last two decades has a manager been able to improve their new team’s league position by five places or more by the end of the campaign. The average improvement for the last 20 teams who were the first to replace their manager is only 1.7 places…

Here are the first managers to go in each of the last 20 seasons…

 

1999/2000: Ruud Gullit – Newcastle
August 28, 1999
League position upon departure: 19th
Replacement: Sir Bobby Robson
League position at end of season: 11th
With Newcastle second from bottom with one point from a possible 15, Gullit quit on August 28, a year and a day after he was appointed. The Dutchman blamed poor results as well as media intrusion for his decision to walk: “I take full responsibility for the results, but also for harassment to my family in Holland. My private life has been intruded,” he said. Exiling Rob Lee and dropping Alan Shearer didn’t help, mind. Sir Bobby took over, Newcastle won his first game 8-0 and they immediately began to climb the table.

 

2000/01: Gianluca Vialli – Chelsea
September 12, 2000
League position upon departure: 10th
Replacement: Claudio Ranieri
League position at end of season: 6th
Vialli guided Chelsea to an FA Cup triumph in 2000 and was given £23million to spend in the summer but the Italian was gone five games into the new season following a poor start that included only one win amid rumours of disagreements with key players including Gianfranco Zola, Frank Leboeuf and Albert Ferrer.

 

2001/02: Jim Smith – Derby County
October 7, 2001
League position upon departure: 19th
Replacement: Colin Todd
League position at end of season: 19th
Smith offered his resignation after more than six years at the helm with County scrapping at the foot of the table after just one win in seven Premier League matches. He was offered the job of director of football instead but he politely declined. Smith’s assistant Colin Todd took over but he too was gone 18 games later. John Gregory was appointed as the Rams’ third manager of the season but he was unable to stop the rot with County finishing ten points off the safety mark.

 

2002/03: Peter Reid – Sunderland
October 7, 2002
League position upon departure: 17th
Replacement: Howard Wilkinson
League position at end of season: 20th
“Nearly a quarter of the season has gone and we are at the wrong end of the table and can’t wait any longer for performances to improve,” said Sunderland chairman Bob Murray after ending Reid’s six-year reign. Appointing Wilkinson didn’t help – he was gone by March, with relegation inevitable by the time Mick McCarthy arrived.

 

2003/04: Glenn Hoddle – Spurs
September 22, 2003
League position upon departure: 18th
Replacement: David Pleat
League position at end of season: 14th
Daniel Levy broke away from his honeymoon to sack Hoddle, citing an “unacceptable lack of progress and any visible sign of improvement” after a start which reaped just four points from six matches. Pleat took over until the end of the season but he fared little better, with Tottenham finishing in their lowest position in six years despite Hoddle having spent around £12million on new players the previous summer.

 

2004/05: Paul Sturrock – Southampton
August 23, 2004
League position upon departure: 10th
Replacement: Steve Wigley
League position at end of season: 20th
Sturrock was told to clear his desk less than 48 hours after receiving a public vote of confidence from Rupert Lowe following a battling win over Blackburn in their second game of the season. Upon his U-turn, Lowe said: “Management in the Premier League is highly pressured and when this pressure is compounded by a constant stream of negative and unfair media coverage, which has taken on a life of its own recently, the position becomes untenable.” Steve Wigley took over but he too was gone in December. Harry Redknapp then came in but Saints were still relegated on the final day.

 

2005/06: Alain Perrin – Portsmouth
November 24, 2005
League position upon departure: 18th
Replacement: Harry Redknapp
League position at end of season: 17th
The Frenchman helped keep Pompey up the previous season but his magic soon wore off. Perrin was axed despite five of his players reportedly going to chairman Milan Mandaric to plead for more time for the manager. In Perrin’s place returned Redknapp, who managed to save Pompey from the drop in the nick of time.

 

2006/07: Iain Dowie – Charlton Athletic
November 13, 2006
League position upon departure: 20th
Replacement: Les Reed
League position at end of season: 19th
Dowie was tasked with replacing Alan Curbishley after a 15-year tenure but the Addicks hit the panic button just 15 games into their new regime. Les Reed replaced Dowie but he too was axed a month later on Christmas Eve. Alan Pardew then had a go but he was unable to save Charlton from the drop.

 

2007/08: Jose Mourinho – Chelsea
September 20, 2007
League position upon departure: 5th
Replacement: Avram Grant
League position at end of season: 2nd
Mourinho was sensationally mutually-consented after taking on Roman Abramovich and coming off second best. Grant came in and watched while the Chelsea players mounted a challenge for a Premier League and Champions League double, though the Blues eventually came off second best in both competitions to Manchester United.

 

2008/09: Alan Curbishley – West Ham
September 3, 2008
League position upon departure: 6th
Replacement: Gianfranco Zola
League position at end of season: 9th
Curbishley guided West Ham to sixth in the table after winning two out of three matches before walking out, citing “a breach of trust and confidence” between himself and the club’s Icelandic owners, who had sold Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney without consulting the manager.

 

2009/10: Paul Hart – Portsmouth
November 24, 2009
League position upon departure: 20th
Replacement: Avram Grant
League position at end of season: 20th
Pompey endured the worst start ever made by a Premier League team, losing their first seven games and, though they won two of their next six, Hart was axed with the club deep in the mire, on and off the pitch. Grant took over but Pompey’s fate was sealed when they were docked nine points in March for entering administration.

 

2010/11: Chris Hughton – Newcastle
December 6, 2010
League position upon departure: 11th
Replacement: Alan Pardew
League position at end of season: 12th
“Regrettably, the board now feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward,” read Newcastle’s statement after they sacked the manager who had just guided them back into the Premier League. That individual turned out to be Pardew, who failed to improve Newcastle’s position by the end of the season.

 

2011/12: Steve Bruce – Sunderland
November 30, 2011
League position upon departure: 16th
Replacement: Martin O’Neill
League position at end of season: 13th
The Black Cats won only two of their first 13 Premier League games and after a 2-1 home defeat to bottom side Wigan, Bruce was axed. “Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change,” said chairman Ellis Short. O’Neill came in and though he inspired a run of seven wins in ten matches over Christmas and New Year, Sunderland tailed off for a 13th-place finish.

 

2012/13: Roberto Di Matteo – Chelsea
November 21, 2012
League position upon departure: 3rd
Replacement: Rafa Benitez
League position at end of season: 3rd
Di Matteo was given the shove by Abramovich just six months after delivering the club’s first Champions League triumph and their seventh FA Cup. The season started well with seven wins in eight Premier League matches and Chelsea were top of the table just over a fortnight before Di Matteo was sacked. But a run of four without a win and struggles in the Champions League group stages led to his dismissal. “The team’s recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the board felt that a change was necessary now,” the Blues explained.

 

2013/14: Paolo Di Canio – Sunderland
September 23, 2013
League position upon departure: 20th
Replacement: Gus Poyet
League position at end of season: 14th
Sunderland took only one point from five league matches, during which time the relationship between the Italian manager and his players appeared to break down irreparably. After offering his players some harsh criticism, it was reported that Lee Cattermole, who had recently been stripped of the captaincy, hit back on behalf of the squad. When news of the row reached Ellis Short, it was the final piece of evidence he needed to conclude that a change was necessary. Under Poyet, four wins in their last five matches lifted the Black Cats from bottom to 14th.

 

2014/15: Neil Warnock – Crystal Palace
December 27, 2014
League position upon departure: 18th
Replacement: Alan Pardew
League position at end of season: 10th
Warnock replaced Tony Pulis, who walked out on Palace with only two days to go before the start of the season. But Warnock himself was heading for the exit between Christmas and New Year with Palace in the drop zone following a 3-1 home defeat to Southampton on Boxing Day. Warnock won just three of his 16 Premier League games, giving a win percentage of 18.8% compared to Pulis’s 42.3% the previous season. Former Palace player Pardew returned to the club from Newcastle and dragged the Eagles into the top half.

 

2015/16: Dick Advocaat – Sunderland
October 4, 2015
League position upon departure: 19th
Replacement: Sam Allardyce
League position at end of season: 17th
Sunderland convinced Advocaat not to retire during the summer of 2015 following the Dutchman’s job well done in keeping them up at the end of the previous season. But a failure to invest in the squad left Advocaat frustrated and his resignation had been in the offing for some time before he finally walked away after eight games without a win at the start of the campaign. “I am truly saddened by Dick’s decision, but I respect him for his honesty,” explained Ellis Short. “It is also testament to his character that he has foregone any kind of a financial settlement, something which is very unusual in football.”

 

2016/17: Francesco Guidolin – Swansea
October 3, 2016
League position upon departure: 17th
Replacement: Bob Bradley
League position at end of season: 15th
Swansea gave Guidolin his cards on his birthday with the team in 17th place not having won since the opening weekend. Huw Jenkins said Bradley was a “long-term appointment” who will “stabilise matters on and off the pitch”. Just 85 days later, he too was sent packing after seven defeats in 11 matches which left the Swans one place off the bottom on goal difference. Paul Clement made a better fist of things, with the Welshmen securing safety with four wins and a draw from their last five matches.

 

2017/18: Frank de Boer – Crystal Palace
September 11, 2017
League position upon departure: 19th
Replacement: Roy Hodgson
League position at end of season: 11th
De Boer was sacked after five games and just 77 days in charge at Selhurst Park. Having failed to score a single goal in four Premier League matches under the Dutchman, the Eagles were languishing in 19th place by the time Hodgson arrived. De Boer’s was the shortest Premier League tenure in terms of games with this and his previous role at Inter Milan lasting a combined 162 days.

 

2018/19: Slavisa Jokanovic – Fulham
November 14, 2018
League position upon departure: 20th
Replacement: Claudio Ranieri
League position at end of season: 19th
Despite spending a fortune on almost a new team upon being promoted from the Championship, Jokanovic was axed with the Cottagers sitting bottom of the Premier League table with five points from 12 matches. Upon appointing Ranieri as his replacement, Shahid Khan proclaimed: “Claudio is risk-free and ready-made for the Premier League, and particularly so for what we need at this moment at Fulham.” Ranieri was gone within three and a half months after the title winner with Leicester failed to reverse Fulham’s slide back into the Championship.

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