New Manager Bounce: A Reality or A Mystery

2023-03-08 News


Sack, replace, and repeat – a trusted antidote over time employed by football administrators who want to see their teams hit the ground running and record successes at all costs.

It’s a wild world out there for managers and head coaches of football teams as seemingly unavoidable is the pressure that comes with wearing that crown that sees them labelled as “Gaffer”.

Adding to the huge turnover of events coaches are sure to experience once they complete their coaching certification is the mounting pressure that has been for many managers, for many years – the urge to deliver or get shown the exit.

This pressure can only be warded off with an upturn in results and in the event of the otherwise happening, administrators take the drastic and sometimes dreadful decisions of changing the guard, not minding the huge chunk of pay-off the manager is to get from his firing.

Upon appointing a new manager, club chairmen, and stakeholders will hope for results that are good in double-quick time, and for those who know their footballing lexicon, this means that the “new manager bounce” takes full effect. An effect that has the ability to change a club’s fortunes in just a number of weeks.

In recent times clubs tend to experience more success mostly than initially proposed at the beginning of the football season in June. One standout example remains Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment as coach of Manchester United. Ole had an incredible start to his life at Manchester United after taking over from Jose Mourinho in December 2018.

In his first match, United eased past Cardiff City 5-1 and that was the first time United had scored five or more goals in a Premier League game since a 5–5 draw with West Bromwich Albion in Sir Alex Ferguson's final game in charge before his retirement in May 2013.

Solskjaer went on to win the next four league games as well which made him the first manager to win the first five league games in charge at United since Sir Matt Busby in 1946. Though Solskjaer’s reign at Manchester United didn’t end as rosy as it started, the Norwegian surely was a beneficiary of the mythical “New Manager Bounce”.

Another notable beneficiary of the “New Manager Bounce” effect was Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel. The appointment of German tactician Thomas Tuchel following the sack of Frank Lampard in January 2021, saw him soar on the wings of the mythical “New Manager Bounce” syndrome when he took over the reins at Stamford Bridge.

Starting with a comfortable 2-0 home win over Burnley and then extending his unbeaten run to 14 games which included victories against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, thereby setting a record for the longest unbeaten run (13) by a new head coach in Chelsea's history. Tuchel’s first few months as Chelsea FC coach climaxed when he clinched club football’s Holy Grail – the UEFA Champions League in May of 2021.

This series of turn of events leaves you pondering and in search of answers to the ever-puzzling question – the new manager bounce is it real or just an illusion?

What is the New Manager Bounce?

According to the Independent, the ‘New Manager Bounce’ is a “chimera”, this phantom bounce experienced by new managers is dubbed as a regression to the mean. Sounds more confusing?

Let’s relate this in clearer terms. In a human sense; if you're forced to repeat a terrible experience, it's likely that it won't be so bad the second time around. This phenomenon is called “regression to the mean” or “reversion to mediocrity”, which sums up how unusual events are likely to be followed by a more typical one.

Is the 'New Manager Bounce' Real or a Myth?

New managers often look more effective due to a few reasons. Reasons may range from an increase in motivation and morale or the enthusiasm and fresh perspective the new tactician brings with him. There is also a tendency of the established names to try to impress the new manager so that their places remain secured in the squad, whereas the fringe players also get an opportunity to restart. Subsequently, the team’s confidence returns and the results start going up translating to a quick turnaround of the fortunes. This is what we call a 'new manager bounce' in footballing parlance.

Let’s do a little statistics. According to a Premier League report, since the start of 2017/18, there were 26 managerial changes in the top-flight competition in four complete seasons. Of the 26 managerial changes that took place, 20 of them averaged more points per match (ppm) in their first five matches in charge compared to their predecessor.

In nine cases, the new manager doubled the previous points average or did even better than that. However, some of the new-found successes didn’t translate into long-term successes.

On average, an in-season replacement of the manager has a huge effect on the performances, of the team during the season but may not in the long run.

An analysis performed courtesy of further answers this question. With a sample size consisting of 149 new managerial appointments that have taken place within the Premier League’s 30-year history, excluding all managerial appointments made between the months of May and August – given managers are afforded the chance to start from ground zero whenever they are appointed during this period.

Looking at how many of these 149 managers got off to the perfect start and by this, we mean whether they earned three points after their first game in charge:

First Game

No. of managers who won their first games















Just 51 out of the 149 managers in our sample size (34.23%) managed to get the better of their opposition the first time out and for those looking for a bounce, 59 out of the 149 sample size (39.60%) actually had to make do with a defeat instead.

However, it is not just a win during the first game in charge which is important, getting momentum going is just as important. Next, analysed how many managers went on a winning streak of any kind:


No. of managers

Percentage %

Two Wins



Three Wins



Four Wins



Five Wins



Six Wins



Total Managers




Of the 149 managers involved, just 16 (10.74%) managed to earn back-to-back wins when taking a new job, while only four (2.68%) have managed to earn a hat-trick of Premier League successes when in a new dugout.

This means either five or six wins is certainly the Holy Grail when it comes to the new manager bounce. Nobody has achieved this accolade as yet, but who knows it may be something that is ticked off within a Premier League season.

In summary, we can say “the bounce” that comes when a new manager is appointed is often because things cannot get any worse. An uptick is almost inevitable. The bounce is an illusion and the new manager is the beneficiary, with any positive results giving him the time he needs to do the real work of sorting out his team.






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