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Why The Premier League Has Seen Less Managers Sacked In The 23/24 Season

This season has seen a dramatic decrease in Premier League managerial sackings, something that was always likely to come given the volume of departures last term.

Last season, the Premier League saw more sackings than ever before. It emphasised the bleak state that football was in, the lack of patience in the media and on the terraces coupled with the desire for instant success.

There were fifteen managerial departures in all last campaign, a damning number that was the most ever seen in a Premier League season. This term, there have only been three, the lowest number within the last ten years, a decrease that was bound to come after the hecticness encountered last time out.

Starting with the three that have been given the boot, one of them strikes the eye as rather harsh compared to the other two. It felt like the right time for Crystal Palace to part company with Roy Hodgson and although it was painful for Nottingham Forest fans to wave goodbye to Steve Cooper, there has been a stark improvement in performance and attacking output under Nuno Espirito Santo.

Paul Heckingbottom's sacking at Sheffield United seemed harsher, given the loss of key players and financial constraints. This compared to the lack of pressure on Burnley's Vincent Kompany, despite the Clarets record-breaking Championship season and summer spending, the Blades only sat two points behind them at the time of Heckingbottom's departure. United have improved marginally under Chris Wilder, though, so perhaps the decision was the right one.

The incredible number of managerial changes last season surely needed bedding in this season, shown by the fact two of the three casualties had been at their respective clubs for at least a season. Plus, the league’s financial regulations have seemingly knocked sense into the club’s hierarchies, as removing managers on long contracts is hardly cheap.

Adversity has been overcome by most of the few managers that have been under pressure this campaign. Andoni Iraola looked set to be the first out of the door after failing to win in his first nine PL games, but the Spaniard’s plans all fell into place in the end, going the next eight games with just one loss, which was away at Man City. Erik ten Hag’s Man United started 2024 on fire until it all came crashing down last weekend against Fulham, but the Dutchman looks safe, for now.

Mauricio Pochettino has looked on the brink all season, but performances have slowly improved in 2024 despite their reoccurring inconsistent nature. Chelsea need some sort of consistency after a hectic start under Todd Boehly, something that seems to be being acknowledged by the Blues’ board.

It’s also hard to think of many teams that are underachieving and that haven’t improved on last season.

There’s the odd case like Newcastle, whose fourth-place finish last term perhaps came while other top sides were weak and heightened expectations prematurely. Brentford look to be in a relegation battle of which they’ve steered clear since their promotion, but there are no doubts in Thomas Frank, and despite frustration within the fanbase, being eighth place and into the Europa League knockout stages is hardly underwhelming for David Moyes and West Ham.

It seems teams, especially at the bottom, are waking up to the fact that a change doesn’t always work. In fact, only 43% of teams that have made a change while in the relegation zone have achieved survival in the competition’s history.

The 2023/24 season has showcased what a decent manager can do. Wolves sitting in 8th place would have been unfathomable at the start of the season, given the fallout occurring after Julen Lopetegui’s tantrums. Aston Villa in the top four, beating Arsenal and Man City and looking destined for a Champions League spot, shows how brilliant Unai Emery has been at Villa Park, with a squad not to dissimilar to the one that was threatened by relegation when he arrived.

Sackings are at last at an all-time low. The test will be next season, when managers have had time to bed in and expectations begin to rise. But, for now at least, you can save a bet on the sack race.

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