How Has The Life Span of a Premier League and Championship Manager Changed In The Last 10 Years?

As even the passing observer of English football will have noticed by now, the days of giving a manager time are long gone. There is hardly a single boss not a bad run form away from at least feeling the ground start to shift beneath his feet, if not even be shown the door.

But just how cut-throat has management in the Premier League and Championship become in the last ten years? We took a look at the average life span of bosses in each of England’s top two tiers, comparing them with the start of the 2019-20 season with that of the 2009-10 campaign a decade ago.

How Brutal Is The Premier League?

To see how great the difference was in the average life span of a Premier League manager now compared to ten years ago, we first looked at how many days each top-flight boss had been in charge for on August 10, 2019, the day the 2019-20 campaign kicked off.

We then did the same for all of the Premier League’s managers on the opening day of 2009-10, August 15 2009, and compared the two:

2019-20 season

Team Manager on August 10, 2019 Number of days in charge by August 10, 2019
Arsenal Unai Emery 444
Aston Villa Dean Smith 304
Bournemouth Eddie Howe 2493
Brighton Graham Potter 82
Burnley Sean Dyche 2475
Chelsea Frank Lampard 37
Crystal Palace Roy Hodgson 697
Everton Marco Silva 436
Leicester Brendan Rodgers 165
Liverpool Jurgen Klopp 1402
Man City Pep Guardiola 1135
Man Utd Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 135
Newcastle Steve Bruce 24
Norwich Daniel Farke 807
Sheff Utd Chris Wilder 1185
Southampton Ralph Hasenhuttl 248
Tottenham Mauricio Pochettino 1901
Watford Javi Gracia 566
West Ham Manuel Pellegrini 445
Wolves Nuno Espirito Santo 801

2009-10 season

Team Manager on August 15, 2009 Number of days in charge by August 15, 2009
Arsenal Arsene Wenger 4710
Aston Villa Martin O’Neill 1107
Birmingham Alex McLeish 627
Blackburn Sam Allardyce 240
Bolton Gary Megson 660
Burnley Owen Coyle 632
Chelsea Carlo Ancelotti 75
Everton David Moyes 2711
Fulham Roy Hodgson 596
Hull Phil Brown 954
Liverpool Rafael Benitez 1886
Man City Mark Hughes 436
Man Utd Sir Alex Ferguson 8318
Portsmouth Paul Hart 25
Stoke Tony Pulis 1158
Sunderland Steve Bruce 73
Tottenham Harry Redknapp 293
West Ham Gianfranco Zola 338
Wigan Roberto Martinez 61
Wolves Mick McCarthy 1121

On average, then, at the start of the 2019-20 Premier League, a manager lasted 789 days, which is the equivalent of 2 years, 8 weeks and 3 days. For context, that’s less than one-tenth the reigns of Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson at Arsenal and Manchester United respectively.

By comparison, on the day 2009-10 began, the average life span of a Premier League boss was 1301 days, which equates to 3 years, 6 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. So, in the last ten years, a top-flight manager lasts in the same job for about a year-and-a-half less, on average.

Image result for wenger ferguson
Managers don’t enjoy the same longevity as Ferguson anymore

Why the sharp decline? Well, for starters, Wenger’s 22-year spell at Arsenal and Ferguson’s 26-year tenure at United have both ended in the last decade, and their longevity, of course, accounted for much of the extra length of time for 2009-10.

But clearly, ‘sacking culture’ is becoming rifer in England’s top tier – on the day 2019-20 kicked off, seven managers were less than a year into their jobs; by comparison, at the start of 2009-10, just five were in this position.

Not only that, but with the ever-increasing financial benefits in the Premier League, boardroom are getting itchier. Everton, for example, followed up David Moyes’ 11 years as manager with four different permanent bosses in the next six years. The revolving door continues to operate at Chelsea, meanwhile, with nine different men occupying the Stamford Bridge hot seat in the last decade.

And further down the table, the fear of slipping through the trap door to the Championship grows ever greater. Fulham, for instance, have been relegated twice in the last decade; in both of those campaigns, they sacked two managers.

Hodgson has been Palace manager since September 2017

Crystal Palace have only been in the Premier League since 2013, yet Roy Hodgson has been in charge for the Eagles the longest of their seven bosses since promotion, and he has only celebrating the two-year anniversary of his appointment in September 2019.

In fact, since 2009-10, no season has seen fewer managerial changes as the nine which took place in that campaign, with 2018-19 seeing ten after three consecutive of 13.

How Does The Championship Compare?

The Premier League may have garnered a reputation, rightly or wrongly, for being too trigger-happy, but what about the league full of teams for a place at the top table?

2019-20 season

Team Manager on August 3, 2019 Number of days in charge by August 3, 2019
Barnsley Daniel Stendel 423
Birmingham Pep Clotet 44
Blackburn Tony Mowbray 892
Brentford Thomas Frank 291
Bristol City Lee Johnson 1274
Cardiff Neil Warnock 1032
Charlton Lee Bowyer 331
Derby Phillip Cocu 29
Fulham Scott Parker 85
Huddersfield Jan Siewert 194
Hull Grant McCann 43
Leeds Marcelo Bielsa 414
Luton Graeme Jones 88
Middlesbrough Jonathan Woodgate 50
Millwall Neil Harris 1557
Nottingham Forest Sabri Lamouchi 36
Preston Alex Neil 760
QPR Mark Warburton 87
Reading José Gomes 224
Sheffield Wednesday Lee Bullen 17
Stoke Nathan Jones 206
Swansea Steve Cooper 51
West Brom Slaven Bilic 51
Wigan Paul Cook 794

2009-10 season

Team Manager on August 3, 2019 Number of days in charge by August 3, 2019
Barnsley Simon Davey 990
Blackpool Ian Holloway 79
Bristol City Gary Johnson 1415
Cardiff Dave Jones 1536
Coventry Chris Coleman 536
Crystal Palace Neil Warnock 667
Derby Nigel Clough 212
Doncaster Sean O’Driscoll 1065
Ipswich Roy Keane 107
Leicester Nigel Pearson 414
Middlesbrough Gareth Southgate 1158
Newcastle Chris Hughton 68
Nottingham Forest Billy Davies 219
Peterborough Darren Ferguson 931
Plymouth Paul Sturrock 620
Preston Alan Irvine 627
QPR Jim Magilton 66
Reading Brendan Rodgers 64
Scunthorpe Nigel Adkins 1006
Sheffield United Kevin Blackwell 541
Sheffield Wednesday Brian Laws 1006
Swansea Paulo Sousa 46
Watford Malky Mackay 54
West Brom Roberto Di Matteo 39

So, on average, at the start of the 2019-20 Championship, a manager lasted 374 days, which is the equivalent of 1 year, 1 week and 2 days – that’s less than half the average life span of a Premier League boss at the start of the 2019-20 top-flight campaign.

Compare that with the day the 2009-10 Championship campaign started ten years ago, and a second-tier manager lasted on average 561 days, which equates to 1 year, 6 months, 1 week and 6 days. So, while there has been a drop-off, it has been of only about six months, which pales in comparison to the decline seen in the Premier League in the last decade.

Image result for championship play off final
Championship teams are desperate for their shot at glory

In short, then, the Championship is even more of a graveyard for managers and their careers than the Premier League.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising; given the Premier League offers hundreds of millions of pounds per year in revenue and more, the clamour among Championship owners to throw everything at a promotion challenge increased by the year. The amount of managerial changes in 2018-19 in the Championship – 15 in total – essentially bear this out.

So, too, does the hiring-and-firing culture just as prevalent at some second-tier clubs as at top-flight sides. QPR, for instance, are on their fifth permanent boss since returning to the Championship just four years ago, while 14 different managerial reigns have taken place at Nottingham Forest in the last decade.

They say there’s no guarantees in football, but for managers wanting to cut their teeth in the English game, there is probably at least one – at some point, probably prematurely, you will receive your P45.

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