Sunday 18 August 2019

Why don't clubs buy managers like they buy players?

David Moyes needs a pick-me-up after defeat against Watford in his first game as West Ham boss. Photo: PA
David Moyes needs a pick-me-up after defeat against Watford in his first game as West Ham boss. Photo: PA

Jack Pitt-Brooke

After sacking Ronald Koeman last month, Everton eventually settled on Marco Silva as their preferred replacement.

They offered Watford £10m in compensation for him, and said they would be willing to go much higher than that. But Watford did not want to negotiate at any price, and Everton have admitted defeat.

Not a triumph for Everton then, but at least they were barking up the right tree. They identified the right manager and were prepared to spend big to get him. Although in the context of spending £45m of Gylfi Sigurdsson, their opening offer was nowhere near enough for a signing who would surely contribute far more to the team than one player.

Contrast Everton's stance with that of West Ham United, another club trying, at least in theory, to break into the top six.

West Ham have an unusual aversion to paying off managers or buying them out from other sides. That is why they waited too long on sacking Slaven Bilic, because they did not want to pay him off in the summer. It is why they could not land a manager like David Wagner or Sean Dyche, who would have to be bought out of his contract for £3.5m. It is why they ended up with David Moyes.


West Ham are in the relegation zone, with nine points from 12 games, and it is extremely plausible that they could go down. That would be a financial disaster for the club, costing them tens of millions of pounds. Which makes their parsimony when it comes to spending money on managers even more irrational.

But West Ham are just an extreme example of a broader problem in English football: undervaluing the contribution of a good manager, and an ingrained unwillingess to spend proper money on hiring one.

Work done by football data analysts at 21st Club, who advise Premier League and Championship sides on strategy, shows that a good manager can add even more to a team than a good player.

"We know that the best managerial hires have been worth in the region of 10 points a season to a team," 21st Club's head of football intelligence Omar Chaudhuri explains.

"For players, you are usually looking at a top end of five or six points." The obvious improvements Antonio Conte brought, first to Juventus and then to Chelsea , are the clearest example.

The way clubs recruit players has improved so much in the last few years, with more information being used and better decisions being reached. But until managerial recruitment smartens up, there will still be bargains out there for clubs who want to invest in a good coach. confidence they need to pay someone out of a contract." The sooner clubs start spending on this what they spend on players, the better.

Irish Independent

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