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Opinion Piece: What are some of the most notorious 'New Manager Bounces' in the Premier League?

Is a player, event, or club all hype or the real deal? Welcome to the home of The Hype Train's opinion pieces, where members of our team discuss a wide array of footballing matters. Here, Ben Hunt looks at the instant impact new Manager's can make upon the arrival at a Premier League club. All aboard.

Investigating the ‘New Manager Bounce’ Phenomenon

Following new Everton manager, Sean Dyche’s, utterly inevitable 1-0 win against league leaders Arsenal two Saturday’s ago (4th Feb 2023), I wanted to look into the much-fabled ‘New Manager Bounce’.

It’s been debated for years whether this phenomenon really exists, but the fact it still pops up whenever a manager gets a positive debut result suggests there might be more to the myth. Throughout this article I will be discussing some of my favourite Premier League case studies of this enigma, along with some of the possible reasons behind it.

Ole’s breath of fresh air at Man United:

Often in bad runs of form poor performances on the pitch breed discontent off it, and the negative atmosphere within the club becomes palpable. Sometimes all that’s required to change the tide is a fresh start.

A prime example of this is when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over from the gloomy Jose Mourinho at Manchester Utd in 2018. As is so often the case with Mr Mourinho, his last months at the club were shrouded in darkness and controversy. After poor displays on the pitch and rifts with multiple players (including a very public one with Paul Pogba) the three-time Premier League winner was acrimoniously sacked, leaving the Red Devils in an unenviable state.

Within a day, the fresh-faced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had been appointed as Caretaker Manager, and in stark contrast to Mourinho, the United legend’s cheery outlook, commitment to youth and vow to play more attacking football, quickly lifted the gloomy mood at Old Trafford left by the ‘Special One’.

And despite his largely unimpressive managerial CV, Solskjaer’s stellar man-management skills resulted, incredibly, in him winning his first 5 Premier League games in charge, becoming the first United manager to do so since Sir Matt Busby in 1946.

This being said, even the most fair-weather United fan could see that Ole was in over his head. And predictably in November 2021, a now withered-looking Ole would go on to suffer similar stagnation issues to his predecessor. After weeks of poor results and reports of a dressing room revolt, Ole would eventually get the sack after an embarrassing 4-1 defeat to relegation fodder, Watford.

But still, a near three-year stint as Manchester United manager… not bad going for a ‘P.E teacher from Norway’.

Tommy Tuchel’s Tactics:

Generally, when results aren’t going a team’s way it’s the fault of the manager, and coaching staff’s, subpar tactics. Tactics that have worked for a time may have been ‘figured out’ by rival teams, or perhaps the tactics were never right in the first place. Either way, more often than not, a new perspective is necessary.

Frank Lampard’s sacking by Chelsea in January 2021 is a good case in point. After overachieving in his first season at Chelsea, results began to suffer, and with reports circling of a relationship breakdown with the board, Lampard was the next to fall from the Blues’ managerial merry-go-round.

This paved the way for Thomas Tuchel, who despite falling below expectations at PSG, brought with him a wealth of experience and tactical nous.

Tuchel’s first port of call was to patch-up Lampard’s leaky defence. To do so the German reverted to the five at the back (or three at the back depending on how you look at it) system, that had worked so superbly under Antonio Conte. On top of this, Tuchel quickly instilled a more structured and aggressive pressing system than his predecessor, Lampard.

Following this change in approach, Tuchel would go unbeaten for 13 games, setting the record for the longest unbeaten run by a new head coach in Chelsea's history.

But the best was yet to come for the Chelsea fans. As Tuchel’s tactics would lead the West London club to an unforeseen, and frankly unfathomable, second Champions League title, beating Pep Guardiola’s chronic Champions League bottlers, Manchester City, in the final.

Eventually however, everyone’s turn on Chelsea’s managerial merry-go-round must come to an end, and having not aligned with the plans of Chelsea’s new, big-spending, owner Todd Boehly, Tuchel was sacked, just fifteen months after his European triumph.

The Big Sam Effect:

There are many managers I’d consider to be a safe pair of hands in Premier League history. Bruce, Pulis, Pardew, honestly the list is endless. Unfortunately, however, managers of this ilk are consistently victims of their own, seemingly incurable, stereotype.

Coined as relegation specialists and considered uncultured when compared to their European counterparts, these managers are seldom considered for the top jobs, as Big Sam explains so elegantly here…

‘I won’t ever be going to a top-four club because I’m not called Allardici, just Allardyce.’

But, sometimes a bit of experience and stability is exactly what is needed to change the fortunes of a struggling club and, in my eyes, there’s no one better than the man himself, (statistically) England’s most successful manger, Big Sam Allardyce.

In joining Sunderland in October 2015, Big Sam inherited both the worst defence and the least fit squad in the Premier League. But, in true drill sergeant fashion and to the dismay of a few senior squad members, Allardyce started work on these issues immediately, improving defensive shape and stamina simultaneously.

And, after adding a trio of shrewd signings in the form of Wahbi Khazri, Lamine Kone and Jan Kirchhoff, the Black Cats form gradually picked up, peaking at just the right time in the season.

In doing so the former Bolton manager staved off relegation once again and earned himself his dream role, as he got the call-up to become England manager. But perhaps the less said about that the better…

Sherwood’s Spurs Shake Up:

When teams are underperforming the manager inevitably faces the consequences, while the mollycoddled millionaire players are generally protected from the negativity. However, quite often once a manager is replaced, the same players that failed their previous manager, miraculously start performing. Normally due to the fear of falling out of favour or being sold. 2013/14 Tottenham Hotspur provide the perfect example of this.

Following Gareth Bale’s big-money sale to Real Madrid and Spurs’ catastrophic summer transfer window, which included signings Paulinho, Chadli, Soldado, Capoue, Chiriches and Lamela, then manager, Andre Villas-Boas was sacked. This came after he proved incapable of integrating, and galvanising, his overpaid, swollen squad. What followed was, without a doubt, my favourite managerial stint in football history. Enter Tim Sherwood.

The straight-talking Sherwood, despite having no managerial experience, came in as caretaker manager and immediately shook things up. In an ode to Mike Basset, Sherwood insisted on playing ‘four-four-f******’-two!’ and publicly chastised his side for lacking character.

This proverbial kick up the backside of his players would seemingly work. After losing his first game in charge against West Ham in the League Cup, Sherwood went on to win his inaugural Premier League game, (somehow) earning him the job on a full-time basis.

And, for a time, it looked like a shrewd appointment as, despite a rather insipid looking strike partnership of Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor, Sherwood’s Spurs would go unbeaten in his first six league games.

The remainder of the season would hold several peaks and troughs for Sherwood and his Spurs side. Whether by design or sheer dumb luck, one high would certainly be the introduction of a young Harry Kane to the Tottenham team, who has gone on to become Spurs’ all-time top goal scorer and a club legend.

So below, just for fun, I’ve listed some more highs and lows, depending on how you look at them, from Sherwood’s Spurs tenure…

- His insistence on playing 4-4-2 in true Mike Basset fashion

- Three certainties in life: Death, taxes and Tim Sherwood wearing his gilet

- Calling Chelsea’s assistant manager Steve Holland, a ‘patronising c***’ following a 4-0 loss

- Handing a whingeing fan his symbolic managerial gilet and asking him to coach the team

- His ongoing bitter feud with, then Benfica manager, Jorge Jesus

Anyway, after months of up-and-down results under Sherwood, the Spurs players would eventually revert to type and undermine their manager. And following heavy defeats at the hands of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, Sherwood was sacked, bringing to an end an eventful 6 months.

Want to join in on the discussion? Ben Hunt is a new Contributor at The Hype Train in 2023, and you can have your take on our latest opinion piece by finding the Train on Twitter at @HypeTrainHQ, and Ben at @BenHunt1238

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The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in general football and Fantasy sports reporting, starting with Fantasy Premier League (FPL), before expanding to MLS Fantasy coverage in 2018.

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