To sack…or not to sack?

Rafa Benitez 02

As the season draws to a close, have the Premier League's managerial changes had a positive impact on their clubs' season?

A look at the Premier League table raises an interesting question about whether or not it is a good idea to sack your manager once a season has begun.

At first glance, the answer is no. It could be argued that only one of the five clubs to part company with their boss is the better for it, and in many ways it is the least likely.

When Southampton announced the departure of Nigel Adkins in January, it came as a shock to many. After 22 games, the Saints were 15th in the league, three points clear of the relegation places, and they had just come back from 2-0 down to draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

In short, they certainly weren’t a club in crisis.

But in hindsight, the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino has proved the right move at the right time.

Whether Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese had a crystal ball, an itchy trigger finger or a sense that this season’s relegation fight was going to be tighter than ever, he acted.

The Saints are now currently 11th, six points clear of safety in a year when few sides can relax as they reach the final straight.

Relaxation certainly isn’t a word heard at three of the four other clubs to change managers this season.

While Reading’s decision to axe Brian McDermott seemed confusing to say the least, QPR’s appointment of Harry Redknapp made sense. In fact they are the only club to sack their manager when they should have done so sooner.

But with the Royals and the Hoops occupying the bottom two positions in the league, they are no better off (in circumstance if not in points) than they would have been had they stuck with McDermott and Mark Hughes respectively.

Sunderland may buck the trend. Although that could very much depend on their match against Newcastle. Three points against their fierce rivals and Paolo Di Canio could spark a much-needed revival. Lose and any increased motivation prompted by his arrival could quickly falter.

And finally we come to arguably the most controversial of managerial changes: the replacement of Roberto Di Matteo with Rafael Benitez.

The vast majority of Chelsea fans will never take to the Spaniard. In fact while most clubs enter a summer seeking new players, the first thing on Roman Abramovich’s shopping list is a new boss.

When Di Matteo left Stamford Bridge, the Blues were four points away from league leaders Manchester City. Today they are 19 points behind Manchester United, clinging on to a Champions League place in the face of a three-way challenge from Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton.

And yet they are in the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and the Europa League. And for all Di Matteo’s fans, when he left Chelsea they were struggling for form in the league, having won only one of their previous five games.

So perhaps, as hard as it may be for Chelsea fans to acknowledge it, they are better off under Benitez. Although that may only be whispered were he to leave two trophies as his parting gift.

Which clubs have benefitted from changing their manager this season?  And who would have been better off sticking with what they had?

image: © thesportreview

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