Myth or managerial masterclass? The new manager bounce

A look into the relationship between the new manager bounce and long-term success

Raff Tindale
24th November 2022
Image: Wikimedia Commons

When a club replaces its manager, history has shown there to be an uptick in results, now known as the “new manager bounce”.  Indeed, when a fresh face is brought into a club, he is given free rein to instil his tactics and ideologies onto a new group of players. As a result, confidence returns, players give their all again and results pick up. While history has shown the “new manager bounce” to be true the majority of the time, it begs the question; does the bounce provide any true indication of how successful a manager’s tenure will be, or is it simply something to enjoy while it lasts? We look back at three managers who were appointed mid-season, the beginning of their tenures as head coach, and whether these results provided any indication of their long-term success.

Thomas Tuchel – 20/21 Season

Frank Lampard was shown the exit at Stamford Bridge exactly halfway through the 20/21 season – with Chelsea picking up an average of 1.53 points per game (PPG) throughout their opening 19 games. With Tuchel’s appointment in January 2021, Chelsea without doubt benefitted from the “new manager bounce”, with their PPG surging to 2.6 in his first five league games. Results continued to improve, with only Manchester City (48) winning more points than Chelsea (38) in the second half of the season. With Tuchel’s men eventually finishing 4th in the Premier League and winning the club’s second UCL, it is fair to say the German’s “new manager bounce” was not simply just that, rather a promising indication of what was to come for Chelsea.

Ralf Rangnick – 21/22 Season

When Ralf Rangnick was appointed Manchester United interim manager in November 2021, United had taken 1.5PPG game from their opening 14 matches. Rangnick’s opening five games, similarly to Tuchel, saw an increase in PPG to 2.2. Yet the months that followed saw little improvement for the red devils, as in Rangnick’s 24-match tenure as head coach, he averaged 1.5PPG, the same return of the man he was brought in to replace, Ole Gunner Solskjaer. So, while United enjoyed the same “new manager bounce” as Tuchel’s side had done ten months prior, it would end up being just that; a momentary bounce.

Mikel Arteta – 19/20 Season

When Unai Emery was dismissed of his duties as Arsenal manager, the script was written for Arsenal legend Mikel Arteta to take over and fix what was going wrong for the North London side. Having only taken 23 points from their opening 18 league games, 1.3PPG, Arsenal were sitting in the bottom half of the Premier League table. The Gunners could have benefitted from nothing more than a “new manager bounce”, but the start to Arteta’s tenure didn’t prove to be what Arsenal fans were hoping for. In his opening five league games, Arteta won a mere six points, a return of 1.2PPG. Despite early doubts from some Arsenal fans, Arteta remained true to his tactics and his side saw a steady improvement, finishing the season strongly and winning a record 14th FA cup. Coming up on three years to date since Arteta’s appointment, Arsenal sit atop of the Premier League, with ‘Super Mik Arteta’ ringing through the stands of The Emirates, week in week out.

Final Thoughts

So, does the “new manager bounce” provide any true indication of how successful a manager’s tenure will be? The answer is, in essence, no. Between Tuchel, Rangnick and Arteta, only one remains in their post, Arteta. Of course, a “new manager bounce” is something any team would welcome and may serve as an indication of great things to come, as was the case with Tuchel and Chelsea, or it may be just a temporary uptick in results before the deeper issues within a club surface, as has since been seen with Rangnick and United. Either way, when a club changes manager, it is always an emotional rollercoaster for the fanbase, whether that be for the good or the bad.

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