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The World Is Full of Fools, Who Never Get It Right

Managers are changing. Its happening. The culling season is upon us. Sacchino, De Carlo, Di Canio and Ficcadenti have all fallen by the wayside already as Serie A owners look to make their limited investments fly. There will be more – December seems to be a popular time. Merry Christmas, folks. New manager for the new year. I was wondering whether it made a bit of difference. The manager’s influence can only stretch so far, surely?

Opportunity to use the wordEXTRAPOLATION.

The last season we have to work with is 2011/12, so that’s the season I’ve worked with. I’m going to present you with a couple of tables, and a couple of graphs. The first table will be a league table with all the managers records extrapolated as if their spell lasted 38 games (some of them, of course, did); there was 37 managers in charge in Serie A last season, well, 37 spells – 34 managers, as three had more than one spell. I ought to mention that, noticing the difference between certain home and away records (hello, Palermo!) I thought I’d extrapolate the two separately.

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Is there anything on there particularly surprising? I was surprised Stramacchioni had started so well at Inter, and I thought Sersi Cosmi had done a little better at Lecce than that points tally suggests.

This table is…well, a bit of fun, but the high placing of
Stramacchioni shows a worthwhile point. I also find the barriers I’ve put in for European qualification and relegation quite interesting (they’re placed at the points required to either achieve or avoid, depending, according to the actual table). To see that Cesena are always below it tells us something, while seeing Novara above it during Tesser’s second spell tells us something different. Check out how well Bologna did under Pioli, too. He must be quite a guy, that Pioli.

Putting that to rest, though, there’s more pertinence to bring from this information.

You Don’t Know What To Do, So You Do Anything You Like

The real test of a manager is to improve the fortunes of his team. Rarely (particularly in Italy) does somebody take over a team that are doing particularly well and have to maintain that; its normally a number of disappointing showings that initiate the trend.

So, the graph that follows is the improvement (in terms of points per game) or otherwise of each managerial change throughout the season. I’ve arranged it chronologically because, to me, it stands to reason that a group of players don’t suddenly become good, but if a manager is better than his predecessor, he may improve them over time. Where a team replaced their manager more than once during the season (Genoa…I’m looking at you) a manager is ranked against his immediate predecessor.

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The only real managers to make a difference were the ones who had time to action changes – the only PPG changes above 0.5 were negative outside the top and bottom two – or the ones who had particularly short spells, oh, and Sersi Cosmi, about whom I have written on this blog before. The long and short of it, for me, is the ‘Games Managed’ column in the top table. If a manager was given enough games, they did better – none of the 38 game seasons were below the relegation mark. There is, of course, a question of cause and effect here. Nobody can fully relegate a team, because nobody is given the chance to; we can’t know if they would if they were allowed.

I think that sticking with the manager is probably the better idea – the three relegated clubs had 8 managers between them; when the top five clubs only had one manager each, doesn’t that say something?

Don’t ever change….

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