Weekend Debrief | New Manager Syndrome | 13th October 2014


We’ve all heard of New Manager Syndrome haven’t we? But what does it really exist? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) took a closer look in this Debrief special.

New Manager Syndrome

After penning 400 words last Wednesday morning explaining why Gillingham + Both Teams To Score was a fabulous bet at 7/2 against Scunthorpe, I heard the news no punter wants to hear. Russ Wilcox had been relieved of his duties at Glanford Park.

Now I’ve absolutely no affinity with Russ, Scunthorpe, Gillingham or League One. I’m a punter, just like you. But I do have a few rules when it comes to betting and up near the top of that list is what’s been framed, ‘New Manager Syndrome’. It had struck and I now needed to rip up my article and start all over again.

So what is it? Well it’s probably quite obvious… once a manager is fired, the team the boss has left behind find that extra yard of pace, that extra motivation and that extra will to win to improve their performance on the pitch. Eager to impress a potential new man at the helm? Of course.

But I wanted to put the theory to the test. I did and the results are quite astonishing. Those eagle-eyed Football League fans will have noted that Scunthorpe came away with a hugely convincing 3-0 win at Gillingham on Saturday – the Gills went down to 10 men but the visitors were the better team for the full 90 minutes.

Mark Robins had been appointed as the new Scunny gaffer on the eve of the game but for this experiment we’re going to focus on the games under the old manager and contrast those results with the matches immediately after their departure. I’ve also discounted Watford from this sample; too many managerial changes meant I just couldn’t be arsed to look at them, if honest.

Anyway, Robins was the first to go way back on 10th August after Huddersfield were hammered at home on the opening day by Bournemouth with Wilcox the most recent to see the axe. In all, there were 12 outgoing bosses in the Football League through resignation or sacking; (in order) Robins, Dave Hockaday, Graham Kavanagh, Joe Dunne, James Beattie, Micky Adams, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Felix Magath, Russell Slade, Dougie Freedman, Colin Cooper and Wilcox.

The Results

Put the results of those 12 Football League managers together up until their departures and you’ll have a record of – Played 85 Won 12 Drawn 19 Lost 54. That equates to just a 55-point haul from 85 games. Or in other words, 0.65 points-per-game. Over a 46-game season, in that form, our departing managers would have earned 30 points – that figure would have been enough to finish rock bottom of the Championship, League One and League Two in each of the last four seasons.

If you want to make things look even grimmer, take out Russell Slade who had guided Leyton Orient to W2 D4 L2 from their first eight league games before wishing to jump ship for the Cardiff job. Scary stuff, eh?

Now here’s where it gets a little interesting. In the 12 league matches that immediately followed the results were Won 5 Drew 3 Lost 4 with 18 points collected. That’s the equivalent to 1.5 points-per-game and so over a 46-game season would accumulate you 69 points.

For years Football League clubs have known that 50 points nearly almost assures survival and 72 points would secure a play-off position. So the results immediately after the managers departure are almost play-off form – just three points short.

So this week’s lesson? New Manager Syndrome probably is more than just a theory. So stay well clear of backing the opposition at an out-of-form side that’s just relieved it’s under performing boss, as Gillingham and Exeter backers discovered this weekend. You have been warned!

New Manager Syndrome

Record of teams up until managers departure – P85 W12 D19 L54 (0.65 points-per-game)

Record of teams in matches immediately after managers departure – P12 W5 D3 L4 (1.5 points-per-game)

Do you believe in New Manager Syndrome theory? Do you back players to score on their birthday or clubs when it's their managers birthday? Let us know what theories you follow in the comment box below and sometime soon, we may put them to the test.

About Author

The big cheese at WLB. After starting his career in newspaper journalism, Mark soon found his way into the online betting world, forging a career in content, social media and marketing production before setting WeLoveBetting up soon after the 2014 World Cup. With a huge passion for stats, analytics, the EFL and European football, Mark’s other interests include playing rugby, following his beloved QPR and travel.


  1. Great article and for what it’s worth I’m always on the lookout for such circumstances. Another I look out for is teams that go on a winning run and then suffer a defeat. I have found it always takes them a bit of time to recover and this is generally overlooked by the traders. Everton under Notes were notorious for this. Worth looking out for.

  2. Mark O'Haire on

    Cheers Paddy. Yes and to throw another one into the mix would be… teams on a winning/losing streak of five games or more – five tends to be the longest.

    Another I’ve noticed punters follow is, players returning to their old clubs and scoring.

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