The new-boss bounce is not an ideal route to lasting success

The Weekend Dossier

Roberto Di Matteo's masterminding of Chelsea's audacious Lisbon raid showed the impact a new manager can have. But Sunderland's defeat to Everton the same night was a reminder that stability remains a more productive path to long-term success. Yet if the team-building David Moyes has done over a decade is what Martin O'Neill must now aspire to, the short-term bounce he provided on Wearside means he can follow today's relegation scrap between Wolves and Bolton with detachment.

Molineux was the setting for O'Neill's first look at his new charges back in December when he saw them lead then lose to Wolves. The result left Sunderland 17th in the table when O'Neill started work, three points and two places behind Wolves. Three months and nine wins later Sunderland are safe. Wolves are bottom. They, too, have changed their manager, but this has only made their predicament worse, Terry Connor having picked up one point in five matches since replacing Mick McCarthy.

The other Wanderers have taken a different approach, sticking by Owen Coyle even when Bolton were bottom in October and January. Relegation could be catastrophic for the Trotters, who are in hock to owner Eddie Davies to the tune of more than £100m. Two-thirds of their £68m turnover is directly attributable to being in the top flight, mainly through TV payments, and even with that cash injection the club lost £26m last season.

Bolton need to stay up and in recent years have fired Sammy Lee and Gary Megson when their elite status was threatened, but while the possibility of a change was discussed, they have stood by Coyle and been rewarded with two victories which lifted them out of the bottom three.

There is recognition that the broken legs suffered in pre-season by Stuart Holden, Lee Chung-yong and Tyrone Mears left the squad short-handed, and the transfer circus surrounding Gary Cahill did not help either. Nevertheless, many a club would have lost patience with a manager who started the season with five straight home defeats during which 17 goals were conceded.

Having survived that beginning, Coyle was vulnerable again when Bolton went bottom in January, especially as O'Neill started to work his magic at Sunderland. Chairmen inevitably looked at Sunderland and wondered if they could repeat the trick; indeed, Queen's Park Rangers began thinking about sacking Neil Warnock after O'Neill's team had won at Loftus Road. Rangers acted the following month, bringing in Mark Hughes, but the switch has not worked – Hughes's record is worse than Warnock's despite playing most of his games to date against clubs in the bottom eight.

Had owner Tony Fernandes studied Hughes's record at Blackburn, Manchester City and Fulham he would have found that he is not a manager who has immediate success. In each case the club prospered, but only after a slow start as players adapted to his methods. QPR, a place off the relegation zone when the Welshman arrived, did not have the luxury of time, especially as Hughes's first eight matches were identified by the club as their winnable ones.

This is the crux of the matter. Some managers build clubs from top to bottom, some only work with the first team, some are fire-fighters. A chairman needs to know which type he wants, and it often depends on the stage of the season.

Having hired a club-builder, Bolton decided to stand by him. Having changed their managers, QPR and Wolves needed fire-fighters, men with strong motivational qualities who can instill belief and organisation into a team – someone like O'Neill or, ironically, Warnock, who was interviewed by Wolves before accepting Leeds' firmer offer.

Instead of focusing on the back four (neither side has kept a clean sheet in the league since November), both Connor and Hughes appear to be encouraging their teams to pass the ball more. This is laudable, but changing the way a team plays is best done in pre-season.

Research on behalf of the League Managers' Association by Warwick University indicates that a new manager often provides a short-term lift but results then slip back. This is not to argue managers cannot be replaced; there comes a time when clubs need a change at the helm. It was clear very early on that Chelsea recruited Andre Villas-Boas far too early in his managerial career, while the state of Wolves' defence, and the team's fragile confidence, suggested for all McCarthy's past success on a tight budget a new face at Molineux might be beneficial. Steve Morgan's mistake was not having a replacement lined up, as Connor was never likely to provide an instant lift. He had been McCarthy's coach since 2008 and on Wolves' staff for 13 years. The voice on the training ground was unchanged. The difference with Di Matteo is that he only returned to Stamford Bridge in August and was hardly a confidante of Villas-Boas, having been recruited by the club, not the manager. It has been evident from his team selections that he and the Portuguese saw many things differently and the players have responded, albeit that is not yet reflected in the league.

Di Matteo's chances of becoming Chelsea manager permanently remain slim, but that reflects less on him than on a club whose underperformance relative to Roman Abramovich's investment in the Russian's nine years at the club is the strongest argument for managerial stability of all.

Five Asides

1 Hoddle for England? The time is still not right

As I have always felt Glenn Hoddle was made England manager 10 years too early (likewise Steve McClaren), the suggestion that he leads the team into Euro 2012 would have merit were it not for the fact that he has not managed anyone since leaving Wolves six years ago, and seems to have gained no self-awareness whatsoever in the dozen years since his sacking by England.

Hoddle was fired not because of anything he said about disabled people, but because the team were dull and unsuccessful (three wins in the last eight competitive matches) and his relationship with the media had descended to state of mutual loathing. His comments were merely an excuse for his removal, one which the media and FA gleefully grabbed. More contemporaneous detail at http://ind.pn/GVHz8m

2 Same old Storrie as Pompey count cost

Peter Storrie was Portsmouth's chief executive from 2002 to 2010, during which time the club spent seven seasons in the Premier League. What do they have to show for all that TV money? One FA Cup, one relegation, a dated stadium with the land around it held by a previous owner, no training ground, no youth academy.

Yet as Portsmouth hurtled towards their first administration Storrie drew £1.2m a year in salary and bonuses, including £3,000-a-game win bonuses. No wonder he wants to return.

3 Sorry City down to the £110m bare bones

Poor Roberto Mancini. With Sergio Aguero injured, Mario Balotelli unreliable and Carlos Tevez only just returning from exile, he only has Edin Dzeko (£27m), David Silva (£26m), Samir Nasri (£24m), Adam Johnson (£7m) and James Milner (£26m) to find a forward line from. Down to the ossa nude.

4 Economics says Rangers will struggle to keep stars

Phillip Beard, QPR's CEO, says the club's new signings will stay even if Rangers are relegated. Really? Economics suggests they will only stay if QPR cannot sell them, as the wages bill will be astronomical by Championship standards, even with parachute payments. They will also find that the players they prefer to keep are the only ones other clubs wish to buy.

5 Even Petrov's leukaemia may have a silver lining

Yesterday's news will have been devastating to Stiliyan Petrov and his friends and family, but some good may come out of their agony. If Villa appeal to their support for bone marrow donors to come forward and register, many lives could be saved.

Twitter: @Glennmoore7

This weekend's team news...

Aston Villa v Chelsea:

Odds Home 7-2; Draw 5-2; Away 5-6.

Kick-off Today, 3pm (Sky Sports 2; Highlights BBC 1, 10.20pm)

Team news Alan Hutton misses out for Aston Villa, with Eric Lichaj in contention to replace the right-back. Charles N'Zogbia also misses out. Chelsea have doubts over midfielder Raul Meireles (knee), but Branislav Ivanovic and Ramires are fit.

Everton v WBA:

Odds Home 5-6; Draw 5-2; Away 7-2.

Kick-off Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.20pm)

Team news Jack Rodwell (hamstring), Seamus Coleman (thigh) and Royston Drenthe are all missing for David Moyes' side, although Steven Pienaar is available again. For West Bromwich Albion, James Morrison (knee) could be out for the remainder of the season, while Zoltan Gera (knee) and Steven Reid (foot) are also out long-term.

Fulham v Norwich:

Odds Home 7-10; Draw 11-4; Away 4-1.

Kick-off Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.20pm)

Team news Alex Kacaniklic goes into the Fulham squad after being recalled from a loan spell at Watford, as Fulham manager Martin Jol has no fresh injury concerns. Grant Holt is suspended for Norwich City following his red card against Wolves last weekend, while midfielder Anthony Pilkington (hamstring) is doubtful.

Manchester City v Sunderland:

Odds Home 2-9; Draw 11-2; Away 11-1.

Kick-off Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.20pm)

Team news Sergio Aguero remains out for Manchester City after picking up a "stupid" injury, according to manager Roberto Mancini. Vincent Kompany (calf) is expected to return but Joleon Lescott (groin) remains out. Wayne Bridge is ineligible for Sunderland against his parent club, while Kieran Richardson (calf) is short of match fitness.

QPR v Arsenal:

Odds Home 9-2; Draw 16-5; Away 4-7.

Kick-off Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.20pm)

Team news Djibril Cissé begins a four-match suspension for Queen's Park Rangers following his red card at Sunderland last weekend, while Armand Traoré (hamstring) also misses out. Arsenal include centre-back Laurent Koscielny (knee) but could be without midfielders Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin (both hamstring).

Wigan v Stoke:

Odds Home 13-8; Draw 9-4; Away 7-4.

Kick-off Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1 10.20pm)

Team news Wigan remain hopeful Victor Moses (jaw) will be fit and David Jones returns to contention, although Mohamed Diame (groin) and Hugo Rodallega (knee) remain extreme doubts. Stoke welcome back Ricardo Fuller from suspension, while centre-back Jonathan Woodgate (calf) could feature for the first time in a month.

Wolves v Bolton:

Odds Home 5-4; Draw 5-2; Away 2-1.

Kick-off Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.20pm)

Team news Karl Henry (hamstring) will undergo late checks, while David Davis (rib) and Ronald Zubar (suspension) may also return to contention. Bolton manager Owen Coyle is without Darren Pratley after the midfielder injured his leg at Tottenham on Tuesday, although defender David Wheater may return after being rested recently.

Newcastle United v Liverpool:

Odds Home 15-8; Draw 12-5; Away 7-5.

Kick-off Tomorrow, 1.30pm (ESPN; Highlights BBC 1, 10.20pm)

Team news Newcastle welcome back Cheick Tioté (hamstring) and Ryan Taylor (calf), but Fabricio Coloccini (hamstring) is out. Charlie Adam (knee) is unavailable for Liverpool, but Maxi Rodriguez (illness) has recovered and Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger could also return.

Tottenham v Swansea:

Odds Home 2-5; Draw 7-2; Away 15-2.

Kick-off Tomorrow, 4pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights BBC 2 10pm)

Team news Aaron Lennon (hamstring) returns to the Tottenham squad after missing three weeks, but Ledley King (knee) is doubtful. Swansea are without centre-back Steven Caulker against his parent club, although Brendan Rodgers welcomes back Nathan Dyer from suspension.

Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United:

Odds Home 8-1; Draw 15-4, Away 4-11.

Kick-off Monday, 8pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights Sky Sports 1 1am, Tuesday)

Team news Gaël Givet (hamstring) remains a doubt for Blackburn Rovers, so manager Steve Kean may again name an unchanged side. Manchester United hope to have defender Rio Ferdinand (back) fit, but Nani remains out with an ankle injury.

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