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Interim Managers: Own Goal or Inspired Substitution?

The post-season managerial merry go-round is already in full swing with this season’s top three in the Premier League all replacing their managers; so it’s goodbye to Ferguson, Mancini and Benitez and hello to Moyes, Pellegrini and Mourinho. Manchester United has perhaps made the biggest statement with their appointment, opting for the continuity that has served them so well over the last quarter of a century. It looks as if Moyes, like Ferguson before him, will be given the time he needs to adapt and thrive in his new role whilst across Manchester, City fans will be hoping that their owners don’t develop the same itchy trigger finger that has afflicted Roman Abramovich’s tenure at Chelsea.

Worryingly for City fans it seems that their owners are developing the same single-minded target culture that has led to Abramovich hiring and firing no less than eight managers in six years since Mourinho last occupied the hot seat. This quote from City’s new chief executive Ferran Soriano is revealing:

“If we look at the next five years and I could plan now, I would say I want to win five trophies in the next five years. That may mean we win no trophies one year and two in another, but on average, I want one trophy or title a year.”

It will be interesting to see how Pellegrini fairs if they don’t win a trophy next season or, they’re sixth at Christmas and faring poorly in Europe again. What has tended to happen at Chelsea is that Abramovich simply pulls the plug and appoints an interim manager to steer the ship until the end of the season. Avram Grant replaced Mourinho in 2007, Hiddink replaced Scolari in 2009, Di Matteo replaced Villas-Boas in 2012 and Di Matteo himself was replaced by Benitez last season.

Incredibly this policy has, to a certain extent paid off; the use of interims seems to have been embedded in Chelsea’s culture to such an extent that they fare far better at Stamford Bridge than other Premier League clubs. This interim managers in football infographic shows that interim managers at Chelsea had a higher win percentage and a lower loss percentage than their full time counterparts, a better goals to game ratio and secured four trophies including the Champions League, Europa League and two FA Cup’s. When looking at interims in the Premier League era, Chelsea has four of the top five managers in terms of win percentage which is pretty striking. It will be impossible to know however how many trophies they would have won had they opted for stability and stuck with the man they appointed in the first place.

Despite the fact that interims certainly seem to cut the mustard at Chelsea, you feel that City would be wise not to follow the same revolving door policy and instead look across Manchester to try and recreate the same period of stability as their fiercest rivals. Whichever way you look at it, it will be fascinating to see how the three new men in charge of the top three get on next season.

By Stephen Baker