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Bloodbath as a dozen English Premier League managers fall to the axe

Bloodbath as a dozen English Premier League managers fall to the axe
Graham Potter, manager/head coach of Chelsea, reacts during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea FC at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 26 February 2023 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA / Getty Images)

The top tier of English soccer sets an unwanted record of 12 casualties this season as clubs become quick to punish underperformers.

Twelve managers have been shown the door by their employers during the 2022/2023 Premier League campaign. It’s a record for England’s top soccer league – the most popular one in the world.

The previous mark was 10 dismissals in a single season (jointly set last season and during the 2008/2009, 2013/2014 and 2017/2018 campaigns).

The two managers who became the latest casualties and helped to set this unwanted record are Chelsea’s Graham Potter and Leicester City’s Brendan Rodgers.

Both clubs find themselves in unfamiliar territory (by their respective standards).

Since their 10th loss of the season to Aston Villa, a week ago, two-time European champions Chelsea linger in the bottom half of the table. It was that match that cost Potter his job.

Leicester City’s manager, Brendan Rodgers, during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Leicester City in Manchester, Britain, 19 February 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Peter Powell)

No wizardry

With every passing match it seemed more inevitable that the former Brighton boss would leave Chelsea.

Out of the 13 league matches the team played in the new year under Potter, the Blues managed only three wins.

The supporters grew more frustrated and boos replaced happy chants at Stamford Bridge. As for Potter, he had aged significantly by the time his seven-month tenure in West London came to a disappointing conclusion – after hopes that he was ready to make the leap to managing a big club.  

“Obviously it’s really challenging,” Bruno Saltor, Chelsea interim manager, told SkySports about the circumstances Potter faced. “A pre-season is massive to implement a playing style.

“It’s a club in the middle of a process and there are so many changes. You feel that way because you have to build a lot of relationships and you feel you’re being pulled in every single direction, trying to create a culture… There’s a lot going on.”

Potter is not Chelsea’s first managerial change in the 2022/2023 season. The 47-year-old Englishman replaced Thomas Tuchel after just six league games – after only three Chelsea wins from those matches for Tuchel.

His departure was unexpected because the assumption had been that, once Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich vacated his seat as the club’s owner, the axe-wielding on Chelsea managers would cease.

Under the rule of the Russian, Chelsea was the most successful English club. The Blues won 21 trophies after Abramovich acquired the club in 2003. However, the glory came at a price as 13 managers came and went during those 19 years of success.

The new ownership consortium, headed by American businessman Todd Boehly, spoke of fostering a culture of long-term thinking and patience. All that has gone out the window as the club searches for its third manager in less than a year.

Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the vacant seat, as have Julian Nagelsmann (who was recently replaced by Tuchel at Bayern Munich) and former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique.

Toothless Foxes

Leicester are also in search of a new manager after the dismissal of Rodgers. The Foxes find themselves teetering ever so close to relegation, after picking up just 25 points from the 28 league matches they played under Rodgers.

The 2015/2016 Premier League champions have nine matches at the time of writing to turn things around and avoid dropping back into the second tier for the first time since 2014.

The club finished in a comfortable eighth position last season and was fifth during the 2020/2021 campaign. The decline this season has left everyone in Leicester scratching their heads.

Rodgers believes he would eventually have steered the Foxes out of their troubles.  

“I am obviously disappointed to depart so close to the end of the season and had every confidence that we would have delivered the results needed to preserve the club’s Premier League status,” Rodgers said in a statement.

As Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp suggested when quizzed on the record-setting dismissals of Potter and Rodgers, sport may be entertainment, but it is also a billion-dollar industry. Especially in England.

Clubs splash millions during every transfer window, such as the £500-million Boehly’s consortium splurged on new Chelsea players this season alone.

“We all accept that’s part of the business,” Klopp said of the dismissals.

“It’s 12 now, which is an awful number. Some clubs are underachieving, us too [Liverpool]. There are expectations out there. Rightly so. And if you don’t reach them, you have to accept the decisions.”

Expendable

“Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan,” South African coach Steve Komphela once said as he felt the demands of coaching Kaizer Chiefs.

This is a feeling that prevails in soccer circles. When a team is winning, everyone tries to take credit for its success. However, when results are not forthcoming, it’s the manager or head coach who is the first to be blamed.

The first managerial casualty of the current season was Bournemouth’s Scott Parker. Antonio Conte’s dismissal from Tottenham Hotspur in March – after a rant about the poor mentality at the club – took the managerial departures to a record-equalling 10. Then came Rodgers and Potter to round off the carnage and set a new record.

With the likes of David Moyes under pressure at West Ham, the number of casualties might just increase before the season concludes. DM168

English Premier League managerial dismissals 2022/2023

August 2022: Scott Parker – Bournemouth

September 2022: Thomas Tuchel – Chelsea

October 2022: Bruno Lage – Wolverhampton Wanderers

October 2022: Steven Gerrard – Aston Villa

November 2022: Ralph Hasenhüttl – Southampton

January 2023: Frank Lampard – Everton

February 2023: Jesse Marsch – Leeds United

February 2023: Nathan Jones – Southampton

March 2023: Patrick Vieira – Crystal Palace

March 2023: Antonio Conte – Tottenham Hotspur

April 2023: Brendan Rodgers – Leicester City

April 2023: Graham Potter – Chelsea. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Grumpy Old Man says:

    If you take a l9ok at the English Championship the casualty list is even worse!
    I saw a stat the other day that Watford has had 22 different Managers over the tenure of the last 4 British Primeministers (that is Cameron, May, Johnson & Truss)
    A large part of the problem is the discrepancy in financial reward between the 1st & 2nd tiers. I don’t know of any Clubs in the 2nd tier that actually turn a profit with a number of them on the brink of being placed under administration!

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