A new manager arriving at a club will tend to bring in a new sense of optimism and confidence – particularly one who joins a club midweek, as presumably the only reason said manager has arrived is because the club is struggling. Fans will be filled with the belief that a new manager means a change in fortunes, players will be busting a gut to prove to their new boss why they deserve that huge pay cheque they’ve been cashing in.
You’d be forgiven for thinking a new manager would result in a handy boost in fortunes for a top flight club.
But alas, you’d be wrong. And this is particularly hard to take if you’re an Aston Villa fan waiting for Remi Garde’s first game in charge on Sunday, when league leaders Manchester City arrive at Villa Park.
We’ve crunched the numbers for every manager who has joined a Premier League club mid-season since the start of the 2010/11 season. Incredibly there have been 31 mid-season appointments in five years as the managerial merry-go-round spins turns quicker and more aggressively than a rabid badger on the waltzers.
Of those 31 gaffers, just six have won their opening game in charge – a win rate of just 19 per cent. More worryingly for Villa fans is that four of those six managers were facing opposition lower than them in the league table. The only notable shock was Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace debut as they beat Tottenham 2-1 at home, despite being 17 points behind Spurs pre-kick off. The full roll of honour of the six winning gaffers is below – they’re points difference in the league going into the match is in brackets:
- December 2010: Alan Pardew at Newcastle – Won 3-1 v Liverpool (Three points behind them in the league)
- March 2012: Roberto Di Matteo at Chelsea – Won 1-0 v Stoke (10 points ahead of them in the league)
- December 2013: Tim Sherwood at Tottenham – Won 3-2 v Southampton (Three points ahead of them in the league)
- February 2014: Garry Monk at Swansea – Won 3-0 v Cardiff (Three points ahead of them in the league)
- January 2015: Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace – Won 2-1 v Tottenham (17 points behind them in the league)
- January 2015: John Carver at Newcastle – Won 3-0 v Hull (Eight points ahead of them in the league)
Of the other 25 managers, nine have managed to pick up a point, while 16 of them – more than half – started their managerial reign in defeat.
The marginally good news for Aston Villa fans is that 22 of those 31 managers faced an away trip in their opening contest. Aston Villa have the luxury of a home tie to welcome Remi Garde into, and an exuberant home support can fuel a rousing performance for the new chief. Well, maybe. If you look at the managers’ debuts when they’ve been at home it reads won four, drawn three, lost two. It’s an improvement, but not enough to prompt us to unload the wheelbarrow on Aston Villa just yet.
The worrying thing for the Villa is the team’s form. Of the 31 managers in the last five years, only four have arrived at a club with zero points from their last five league games. That’s the scenario Garde has strolled into, with Aston Villa losing the last seven on the bounce. All four of those managers suffered defeat in their opening game – showing that a great manager does not a great team make.
- March 2013: Nigel Adkins at Reading – Lost 4-1 v Arsenal (Were on a five game losing run)
- October 2013: Gus Poyet at Sunderland – Lost 4-0 v Swansea (Were on a five game losing run)
- December 2013: Rene Meulensteen at Fulham – Lost 2-1 v Tottenham (Were on a five game losing run)
- February 2015: Tim Sherwood at Aston Villa – Lost 2-1 v Stoke (Were on a five game losing run)
Similarly when the gulf in class between a manger’s new team and the opposition is so large, a beneficial bounce effect becomes even more unlikely. Aston Villa go into their clash with City 21 points behind the league leaders, and that does not bode well looking at our stats. Three managers have started their new careers with task as tough as that, and only Terry Connor at Wolves got a result.
- February 2012: Terry Connor at Wolves – Drew 2-2 with Newcastle (21 points between them in the league)
- March 2013: Nigel Adkins at Reading – Lost 4-1 v Arsenal (27 points between them in the league)
- March 2013: Paulo Di Canio at Sunderland – Lost 2-1 v Chelsea (24 points between them in the league)
Taking all of the above into account, Manchester City to win the game at odds of looks like the very obvious punt. No matter what magic Remi Garde can weave inside the Villa dressing room, it’s unlikely to turn around the team’s fortunes quite as instantly as fans would like. Particularly not when you have lost the last seven and are facing a side who have dropped just eight points this year.
The one saving grace for Villa is that they are unlikely to get hammered. In the last five years 16 managers joined a club mid-season and lost their opening game – 13 of these defeats however were by just a single goal. Man City are to beat Villa by a goal and that may be the bets bet to go in on, with the 1-0 scoreline priced up at , and a 2-1 City win is .
The biggest opening game defeat for a new gaffer in the last five years? Gus Poyet getting thrashed 4-0 by Swansea two years ago. Every cloud has a silver lining Aston Villa fans. It could be worse, you could support Sunderland.
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