Premier League: Crunching the numbers on this season’s managerial exits

The last three full seasons have each seen exactly seven Premier League managers leave their posts

Tom White
Tuesday 09 November 2021 16:24
<p>Daniel Farke, left, and Dean Smith were both sacked in recent days </p>

Daniel Farke, left, and Dean Smith were both sacked in recent days

The weekend’s sackings of Premier League managers Daniel Farke and Dean Smith mean the top flight has seen five managerial departures this season – the earliest since 2004-05 that mark has been reached.

Norwich’s first league win of the season, against Brentford on Saturday, could not keep Farke in his role and Smith followed on Sunday with Aston Villa on a five-game losing run.

The last three full seasons have each seen exactly seven Premier League managers leave their posts, so this campaign is already well on its way to eclipsing that total – here, we look at how the numbers stack up.

Calm before the storm

This season is already closing on the previous three in terms of Premier League managerial departures (PA graphic)

A period of relative calm in the top flight, partly stemming from the disrupted schedule as the Covid-19 pandemic hit, has given way to a flurry of firings this season.

Xisco Munoz was the latest coach ejected from Watford’s merry-go-round, Newcastle’s new owners relieved Steve Bruce of his duties and Nuno Espirito Santo lasted just four months at Tottenham before the weekend’s double-whammy made it a quarter of the Premier League to have made a change.

Smith was let go on November 7 – not since Jacques Santini’s resignation from Tottenham on November 5, 2004 has the fifth managerial change of a season happened earlier. Farke’s November 6 departure exactly matched Slaven Bilic’s from West Ham in 2017-18 for the fourth in a season.

Up to and including the 2007-08 season – which saw six changes by the end of November but, like 2004-05, only nine in total – the Premier League averaged 6.3 managerial changes per season with only 1994-95, the last year with 22 clubs, reaching double figures (11).

For the decade that followed, from 2008-09 to 2017-18, that average rose to 9.8 per season culminating in a record 15 in-season changes in the last of those seasons.

There were only seven in 2018-19, a number repeated in the following two seasons as the pandemic forced delays and rearrangement of football’s schedule and left clubs in limbo for prolonged periods, but that lull appears to be behind us.

Sacking season

Nuno Espirito Santo kick-started this month’s exodus (Nick Potts/PA)

Nuno, Farke and Smith have also added to the notable spike in managerial departures in November, one of the busiest months of the season for changes in the dugout.

There have now been 30 November departures in 30 Premier League seasons, with more than three weeks remaining to add to that total and match the record of four in 1994-95. Four of those 30 have come at Spurs, with Nuno following Mauricio Pochettino two years ago, Santini in 2004 and Gerry Francis in 1997.

Only two other months can boast a higher casualty rate – May with 37 and December with 32, while no other month surpasses 20.

There are logical explanations for those totals, with May almost invariably marking the end of the season while the January transfer window unavoidably sharpens the focus of clubs considering a change prior to that point. As evidenced this season, November’s international break is another natural checkpoint with enough games played for the table to take shape.

That December figure looms ominously for the likes of Manchester United’s under-pressure boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the likelihood that this season will end with the highest figures in recent memory.

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