So it’s taken just four games, but Crystal Palace have decided they’ve had enough of Frank De Boer. The Dutchman leaves the club bottom of the league with no points and no goals scored, to be replaced by good old Roy Hodgson. The ex-England manager will be taking charge of his 16th different club and the Palace board will be hoping he is at least as successful as he was at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion. But aside from the more long-term managerial ability of Hodgson, what sort of instant impact can we expect to see him have?
Every managerial appointment in the EPL since the 2007/08 season has been analysed to compare data in the 5 matches prior to the appointment with the 5 matches after the appointment. Specifically, data regarding points earned, goals scored, and goals conceded will be examined to see whether new managers positively or negatively affect a team’s overall performance, attacking performance, and defensive performance. 62 appointments in total were analysed.
The data shows that new managers make a considerable, positive impact at a club. This is not surprising for a number of reasons (The Numbers Game excellently details what is likely the main one; that of regression to the mean). What is perhaps more interesting though, is that the improvements from an attacking sense (goals scored) and from the defensive side (goals conceded) are almost identical. Teams on average score 1.74 more goals in the 5 games after a new manager is appointed, and tend to concede 1.69 goals fewer.
The hope prior to collecting this data was to be able to give some sort of useful guidance for Togga managers following Palace’s appointment of Hodgson. “New managers tend to shore up the defence” with an accompanying tip to pick up Fosu-Mensah, or “Goals galore follow a manager’s arrival” and some advice to persevere with Benteke. Unfortunately, the data has not been kind enough to allow that. Instead, it is simply the case (probably a rather obvious one) that managerial appointments to the Premier League tend to improve a team’s attacking performance and defensive performance equally, with a considerably increase in points earned as a result. Nevertheless, in search of something relevant, I have delved into the individual data, and sought out a few interesting bits…
- Big Sam was apparently approached about the Crystal Palace job but turned it down. Perhaps he may be more interested in a return to West Ham should Slavan Bilic (the new bookies favourite to leave his post) be shown the door. Allardyce makes up 3 of the 62 appointments analysed in the data. Interestingly his impact tends to be on improving the defensive side of teams, with little change in attack. Cresswell and Zabaleta may be worth picking up if this (albeit unlikely) move happens.
- Rafael Benitez is the 2nd favourite to depart next at 4/1. If he does leave Newcastle there will be no shortage of suitors for him. A stay in the Premier League would not be surprising and any prospective club would see equal improvements in both attack and defence if his impacts at Newcastle and Chelsea are anything to go by.
- Southampton’s Mauricio Pellegrino is another one coming under pressure. Alan Pardew is available and a second spell at the south coast club may be tempting for both parties, especially given that his impact at both Newcastle and Crystal Palace was huge in terms of points (increases of 7 in each instance). These improvements were slightly more biased towards attack than defence, which would suit a Southampton team struggling to score goals. Trades for Tadic and Gabbiadini may be on the horizon.
- Chelsea and Conte appear to have put aside any differences arising from missed transfer targets and a shock opening day defeat, but the bookies still have the Italian as the fifth favourite to leave next. Should this happen, Abramovich could turn to his favourite interim manager Guus Hiddink. The much-loved Dutchman has done it twice before, overseeing contrasting results. In 2009 he improved the defence considerably, but had little impact in attack, whilst in the 2015/16 season he improved the attack to a great extent, but had little impact in defence. Your guess is as good as mine as to what this means for Luiz, Willian, and Morata.