Does managerial stability guarantee success in football?

With the managerial merry-go-round in full swing at the end of the Premier league season, I have been left to ponder whether or not the old adage that clubs should stick by their managers is the mo

With the managerial merry-go-round in full swing at the end of the Premier league season, I have been left to ponder whether or not the old adage that clubs should stick by their managers is the most effective way of achieving success. The first point I am left to consider is what is success.

What is success?

In footballing terms, generally success is measured by the number of trophies a club wins in a season, or over the course of a managerial reign. However with a fixed amount of silverware to be won every season, this cannot be the only determinant of success, league performance has to be considered as well.

The appointment of David Moyes as the successor to Alex Ferguson has led me to consider his spell in charge of the Toffees, and question how successful it actually was. Moyes arrived at Everton in 2002 after a promising period in charge of Preston North End, where he led them to the verge of the Premier League, before losing out in the playoff final.

Early on in his reign at Goodison, Moyes took the club to the Champions League on a shoestring budget, with deft signings in the transfer market, particularly Tim Cahill who became a prolific goal scoring midfielder for the club, and won two LMA Manger of the Year awards in his first four years.

Everton the epitome of stability

However over the past four or five years, it has become harder to judge the success of Moyes and harder to determine whether another manager could have built on his success and delivered the club some silverware. Everton have been the epitome of stability over the past decade, and this managerial stability has allowed Moyes to establish Everton as a constant top eight side, despite the enormous inequality in budget comparison with the teams above them.

Swansea City has had several different managers over the past decade, yet the upheaval has not hindered the development of the club. Swansea have risen from a League One side to a Premier League side in the space of seven years, and have had four different managers over that space of time.

However the club have not sacked any of the managers in charge, they have all moved on to bigger clubs, the most recent managerial change was the move of Brendon Rodgers to Liverpool. The changes in the backroom staff are often very small despite the continuing managerial change, reducing the damaging effect a change in manager can have on a team.

Unprecedented level of success

The success of ensuring as much stability as possible despite the changes is evident by the success this season. In Michael Laudrup’s first season as a manager in English football, he led the Swans to the league cup title.

The greatest support for the claim that managerial stability is the key to success is the 26 years that Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of Manchester United, and the unprecedented level of success that he achieved over those 26 years.

However I would argue that this is not support for the claim that stability was key to the success, but evidence that Sir Alex was a once in a generation manager. He was close to the sack when he had not delivered any trophies at the start of his tenure, yet whenever he was under pressure later in his reign (when he went 3 years without the Premier League 2003/2007), he had his previous glories to fall back on.

What guarantees the silverware?

Arsenal have also enjoyed a period of managerial stability, yet over the past 7 years they have not added any silverware. This shows that managerial stability has not guaranteed success, but in fact has possibly restricted the success of the club. Wenger and his approach does not have the same effect as it previously did, and the club, although constantly finishing in the top four, has remained trophy-less for 7 years, whilst Wigan, Swansea and Birmingham have all won titles over the past three years. 

In my opinion, managerial stability helps a club to remain competitive, like Everton and Arsenal. It does not guarantee success in the way that it has done for Manchester United. A manager should be given time, two to three years is enough time for a manager to put in place their methods.If there is no sign of progress then there should be a change in that position.

Swansea City have shown that stability in the club is the key to success without it necessarily being the result of managerial stability.

What do you think? What form of stability do you think is key for clubs? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Photo: Ben Andreas Harding