With 'just' three sacked, the Premier League is a manager's safe haven

The Weekend Dossier: The Championship has already gobbled up and spat out 14 managers this term

Sadly, we have become almost immune to people losing their jobs. Perhaps it is another consequence of an endless recession. Jobs go. Life goes on. In football, there is scant regard for employment. It is 20 years since supporters started vociferously (and gleefully) informing managers that they were about to be put on the dole. "You're getting sacked in the morning" is not one of English football's greatest works. A social conscience sometimes escapes the game. Bad results? Give someone the sack, anyone, just get rid of them.

It is to that backdrop that the League Managers' Association released these figures: 37 managers (or 40 per cent) in England have lost their jobs since the start of the season (we're only in February, don't forget), either through dismissal or resignation. Imagine 40 per cent of a workforce wiped out in seven months and the reality of those figures should sink a little deeper. It is a phenomenal turnover. The grim reaper in English football has never had it so good.

Yet – and it feels incredible, so it must be incredibly – the Premier League has become the bastion of calm. Twenty men stepped out into the lion's den on that first weekend back in August: 17 of them are still there. That means "only" 15 per cent of top-flight managers in England have lost their jobs. (It also means that the rate of people leaving their posts in the remaining three leagues in English football stands at a staggering 47 per cent, with just under a third of the season still to play.)

In the Premier League only Chelsea, Southampton and Queen's Park Rangers have felt the need to replace their manager mid- campaign. The three were among the bookmakers' pre-season favourites to get the chop. Anything that went on Wembley-bound Michael Laudrup (8-1 before a ball was kicked) and Steve Clarke (comfortably in the top 10 for the campaign's entirety, also 8-1 in August) looks particularly misjudged. Nigel Adkins, however, was in charge of a newly promoted team with an unpredictable chairman. Roberto Di Matteo was the man who had to win the Champions League to get a permanent position. They looked vulnerable before a ball was kicked, and so it proved, but it is the new-found solidity in Premier League boardrooms, during a season, that is revealing.

New media – and by that we mean the internet and specifically Twitter – has hastened the demands from noisy (if not necessarily representative) supporters for change. So far this season the eye of those calling for a dismissal has at some period pointed at Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew, Martin O'Neill, Sam Allardyce, Brian McDermott and Paul Lambert.

Currently Rafa Benitez, Arsène Wenger and Roberto Mancini find themselves unable to move away from talk of their impending dismissal. "F****** hell" was the response of Mancini yesterday to speculation that he was about to be replaced by the Malaga coach, Manuel Pellegrini. Mancini is manager of the current Premier League champions. That is easily forgotten in some quarters; not however, it is emerging, in boardrooms. Premier League clubs are keeping their fingers away from the trigger while the season unfolds.

This year's calm, relative to the rest of English football, follows a trend. Last season only four managers went in the top flight during the campaign. Change during 38 games is no longer seen as a wise move.

Steve Bruce (Sunderland) was sacked at the end of November, Neil Warnock (QPR) went on 8 January, Mick McCarthy (Wolves) was relieved of his duties in 13 February, and from there, with more than three months of football to run, only Andre Villas-Boas (Chelsea) was fired.

Three this season. Four last. The Championship has already gobbled up and spat out 14 managers this season. The Premier League used to change more mid-season as well, if not quite to that level. In 2010-11, six managers lost their jobs during the season. In 2008-09, eight managers bit the dust, as did the same number the season before. The haste for mid-season change is lessening.

The LMA is aware of the change in mid-term casualties. It is an area amid increasingly brutal statistics (55 per cent of first-time managers never get another job) to offer a hint of optimism.

It is also the case that you will get more of a chance to impact upon a club if you land a job at the top table. The average duration of a Premier League manager's term of office is currently 3.88 years (figures obviously helped by the longevity of Sir Alex Ferguson and Wenger), compared to 1.29 in the Championship. For the record, League One is similarly fraught at 1.36 years to impact upon a club and League Two at 2.23.

The opportunity to afford change is important. It offers stability. It does not, however, mean that pre-season is a bed of roses. Alex McLeish (Aston Villa), Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool) and Harry Redknapp (Tottenham) all went last summer, but at least they were not cut off mid-term – as those in the graveyard of the Championship will admit, it is better than their lot right now.

Five Asides

1. Sparks still flying in Turkey

Fenerbahce's Europa League tie with Bate on Thursday was played behind closed doors because fireworks and objects were thrown on to the pitch during an earlier game against Borussia Mönchengladbach. It was still not enough to stop a lit flair landing near the dugouts during the first half, arriving attached to a parachute.

2. Rochdale's feat endures

"It is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime occasion for a Fourth Division player, it'll be a long time until another one gets there." They are the words of Peter Whyke to Bradford City's players. He should know. In 1962, he and his Rochdale team reached the final of the League Cup from the fourth tier, the only team other than Bradford to do so: "Even after more than 50 years there are still people coming to our house for autographs." Rochdale lost the two-legged final to Norwich. That anecdote is a pointed reminder that football fans see more than score lines.

3. Fans' Van Persie blunder

When the blinkers go on fans, there is no hope. Sections of Arsenal's support backed the decision to sell Robin van Persie last summer. The argument then was that he was old (28), injury-prone and the arrival of new players with the £20m Manchester United paid would more than offset the sale. I don't really need to put anything here, do I?

4. Big boys fall short...

It is 17 years since the Premier League was not represented in the Champions League quarter-finals. For Arsenal, hopes of progress to the last eight now seem slim after the loss to Bayern Munich. Manchester United's hopes are better, but no better than 50-50, against Real Madrid after a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu. However, the Champions League was still more of a cup competition in 1996, filled, strangely, with each country's champions. Thus England's failure was limited to the failure of Blackburn Rovers. More questions should be raised if four clubs cannot produce a team able to reach the last eight.

5. Minnows seize the day...

Premier League big boys will also not be represented in the League Cup final tomorrow. Good. Swansea City and Bradford City have treated the competition with huge respect this season. Thus, one of them will win it.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence