Outside the Box: Pulis is gem of a manager and Jewell's still a rough diamond

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The Independent Online

The Castrol Performance Table for the League Managers' Association attempts to rank managerial results for the season across the four English leagues. Carlo Ancelotti and Sir Alex Ferguson still top the list, but Newcastle's Chris Hughton is third, Norwich's Paul Lambert fifth and Rochdale's Keith Hill 10th. An additional, crucial aspect to comparisons has been introduced by Warwick Business School, which runs the highly regarded course in applied football management at the University of Warwick, taken by Stuart Pearce, Mark Hughes and others. In her new book 'Football Management', the university's Dr Sue Bridgewater relates results to average wage bills and calculates that the most consistent over-achiever in the five seasons up to 2008 was Tony Pulis, followed by Steve McClaren and Sam Allardyce. Pulis's final League position, for instance, was regularly between six and seven places higher than his team were in a league table based on wages (which cannot all be down to long throw-ins). It is the sort of comparison that tends to appeal to clubs of a certain level looking for a new manager. Chairmen should therefore note that Paul Jewell, unemployed for the past 16 months since leaving Derby County, is in the top six.

Germany win again

Strongest league in the world it may be, financially at least, but the Premier League has again had to concede top place for attendances this season to Germany's Bundesliga. Going into this weekend's final fixtures, the PL was averaging 34,018 per game (down 1,600) as opposed to Germany's 43,592. Last week's remarkable Bundesliga figures included 80,300 at fifth-placed Borussia Dortmund and six other crowds of almost 50,000 or more. Even the lowest gate, a mere 30,210 at Bayer Leverkusen, was a full house. The key is the lower prices and, some believe, a policy of allowing standing areas. Spain rates third best in Europe, mainly because Barcelona and Real Madrid drag the average up to 27,800; next are Italy, France, Holland and then the Championship, which finished the season at 17,949. That figure was boosted by Newcastle's 43,387.

We can Work it out

Lower down the scale, a final word on Workington, featured here recently for their run of a single home game in between eight away fixtures. The irony was that playing away, even with the distances involved from Cumbria, turned out to suit the Reds better than home matches. Seven successive away wins propelled them into the Blue Square North play-offs, where good fortune finally ran out in the semi-final, with home and away defeats by Alfreton. They hope they may be spared the longest trip of all next season: Gloucester City, bizarrely placed in the northern section and due to groundshare with Cheltenham, are desperate to be moved to the Blue Square South.

Blue (or red) is the colour

And finally... probably not the best timing for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust to be staging their annual charity match at Stamford Bridge this Tuesday (9.45am), between teams of celebs and MPs. Or is that ex-MPs? "We have no idea at this point who will be turning out for the MPs' side," the organisers admit.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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