Imagine a world in which Sir Alex Ferguson never became an Old Trafford legend?
Or one where Arsene Wenger was released by Arsenal before people stopped asking “Arsene who?”
This all could have been a reality had managers been hired on only six-month deals. According to Barcelona boss Luis Enrique it would make financial sense for clubs to offer short-term deals, thereby avoiding the need for massive pay-offs for sacked managers.
So if we were to judge managers purely after a six-month stint, would football really look that different?
Leaving a legacy
It famously took Ferguson a while to get going at Manchester United. Surely he wouldn’t have got a new deal with a win percentage of 42.9% after his first six months.
By the time his trophy-laden dynasty was at an end, that winning record had risen to 60.4%. Maybe a youthful Louis van Gaal would have arrived at Old Trafford earlier in his career, and David Moyes would definitely have known he was on the clock.
Likewise with Wenger, his current win stats after 20 seasons at the Gunners is 57.7%.
But roll back to the Frenchman’s first six months and a 45.5% win percentage might mean there would be a very different Arsenal in 2016.
And if the urban legend of the Premier League is correct, players would still be eating steak and chips 10 minutes before games and drinking all week between matches.
Tim Sherwood still England’s best young manager?
The former White Hart Lane midfielder found himself in the hot-seat after Andre Villas-Boas was given the boot. He was handed a 18-month contract in December 2013, but was eventually sacked in May 2014.
But why? The club finished sixth and qualified for the Europa League. And Sherwood had managed a top-flight win percentage of 59% – the best of any Tottenham boss in Premier League history.
Former England defender Paul Parker recently said Sherwood should take over from Louis van Gaal at Manchester United until the end of the season.
Parker must have read February’s interview when the 47-year-old stated he wanted to be a pioneer for English managers, rather than look at Sherwood’s 29.1% win percentage at Aston Villa.
Chelsea’s recent record might be exactly the same, except for maybe a third and fourth stint for serial title winner Jose Mourinho. And 15 trophies while changing the man in charge 10 times suggests they might be on to something.
Roman Abramovich’s current short-term Mr Fix-it Guus Hiddink has a six-month win percentage of 66.7% covering two stints at Chelsea. And with an FA Cup in the bag in his first spell, it’s a wonder he hasn’t been given longer deals.
Perhaps Chelsea are always trying to re-create those heady first six months of Mourinho. His 78.3% win percentage at the start of his first Stamford Bridge spell blitzes anyone else on our list. But by the time his second spell ended in acrimony his total win percentage was down to 52.2%.
While Roberto Di Matteo won 61.1% of his league games in his first six months, it was the FA Cup and Champions League double that makes him arguably one of the most successful managers in the club’s history.
Then there’s Rafael Benitez. Dubbed ‘The Interim Manager’ by his own club and lukewarm Blues supporters, he also brought Europa League silverware in his short spell at the club, but only enjoyed a win percentage of 52.4% in his first six months, rising to 57.7% by the end of his tenure.
Madrid the blueprint?
Enrique’s comments would appear to be only a slight exaggeration on the Madrid model, where Benitez found to his cost that even a 61.1% win percentage isn’t enough if you get spanked 4-0 by your arch-rivals in your first few months.
But expectations are notoriously high at a club which has parted company with eight coaches in 10 years.
Maybe former Liverpool manager Benitez will enjoy more success at Newcastle – another side looking for the instant impact of a new gaffer. Although he has a relegation break clause should the worst happen…
Unfashionable managers still unfashionable
Everybody loves Pep Guardiola, right? The incoming Manchester City boss loves a good three-year project at a big club, guarantees trophies and plays beautiful football while doing it.
But if managers had to be judged by instant impact, would Sam Allardyce and Harry Redknapp finally get the wider recognition they both claim to deserve?
Sunderland manager Allardyce is regarded as the man to parachute into a crisis-club and get a quick response.
Yet the stats show that only at West Ham – playing in the Championship – was his win percentage higher than 50% in the first six months
Maybe Iain Dowie, who famously steered Crystal Palace from 19th in the Championship to the Premier League in six months, would still be in vogue. Or would Tony Pulis be managing Barcelona and Neil Warnock in charge of the national side?
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