Guest Post by Paul Micelli
As the latest English football season draws to a close, the managerial merry-go-round begins in earnest as a number of high-profile figures find themselves looking for new employment before the start of the forthcoming 2010/2011 campaign. In turn, clubs who have recently dismissed or lost a manager will be looking for new faces to lead them to glory or, in many cases, to keep them playing at a competitive level.
There is an old adage in football about a manager never being more than six games away from the sack. A previous run of good results can be easily forgotten by over-zealous chairmen if current form begins to see a team underachieving or slipping closer towards the relegation zone. Occasionally, it can be success that leads to the loss of a manager as leading clubs close in with promises of higher wages, bigger transfer budgets and a realistic chance of winning elusive silverware.
Naturally, a change of management inevitably leads to changes at other levels of club football and the effects can have a wide range of implications. While the appointment of a new manager may offer a noticeable lift in fortunes, some sides will begin to suffer after several seasons of playing to a particular style under a previously successful leader. Recruiting the right person for the job is of paramount importance and with the huge financial rewards associated with top level football, the wrong choice can lead to long-term difficulties such as losing key players, fighting for a league position or staving off administration.
When a new manager arrives at a club there is usually a short honeymoon period where results are irrelevant as long as signs of progress are apparent. Often the arrival of a new face at the helm of a club produces a shock reaction that leads to a significant upturn in results, although there will naturally be other situations where a decline continues before things turn around. Results aside, even the most mercenary of chairmen will support their new appointment during this honeymoon period and dismissal will be unlikely during this time.
The existence of a honeymoon period can be easily explained when certain influential factors are taken into consideration. Players will often experience a rise in form as they try to impress the new manager, particularly if they have failed to play regularly under the previous incumbent. If the managerial change has been made at the end of a season, players may be giving a little more to improve their chances of a new contract or to retain an existing one. The egotistical attitude of some top-flight players may even see them making a concerted effort because they feel somehow responsible for the demise of the previous manager.
However, morale in the dressing room can also be affected in a negative manner, particularly if a team was successful under the old manager. If a new appointment introduces training regimes and changes in playing style at an early stage, players can quickly lose confidence in the system and in their own abilities. Within weeks, a side that has shown a propensity to compete at the highest level can soon become a team of also-rans.