Premier League Football Managers are some of the highest paid sports team managers in the world.  However, unlike many major sports, their importance to their clubs seems to be waning.

When goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to leave the pitch during the Carabao cup final, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri seemed powerless to do anything.

Whether this was simply a misunderstanding or a case of player power, only insiders will know (for the present).

However; Arrizabalaga is the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.  He cost Chelsea around £75 million and earns around £200,000 per week.  His 5-year contract is worth around £46 million.

In contrast Sarri has a 3-year contract with an annual salary of around £5 million.  According to sources, “Chelsea can sack manager for £5million…..”  which would be the cheapest pay-off in the Roman Abramovich era.

Job Security of Premier League Football Managers

premier league football managers Claude Puel

In the 2016/17 season Claude Puel took Southampton FC to the final of the League cup and 8th in the Premier league. That did not save him from being sacked at the end of the season.

In October 2017, Leicester City appointed Puel as manager after having fired 2 managers in the seasons following their miraculous League winning 2015/16 season.

When he joined Leicester, the club were in 18th position in the Premier League.  By the end of the season, he had steered them to a 9th placed finish.

Puel was fired in February 2019 amidst rumours of a revolt by senior players.

Even Top Premier League Football Managers Are Feeling The Pressure

Jose Mourinho is a serial winner.  He has won league titles in England (x3), Italy (x2), Portugal (x2) and Spain (x1).  The self-anointed ‘Golden one’ has also won the European Champions League on two occasions.  Mourinho was named World Coach of the Year in 2010.

Manchester United is one of the biggest and most successful clubs in world football.  So when Mourinho was appointed manager of Manchester United it seemed a perfect fit.

However, all is not that straight forward.  The club was/is in a period of rebuilding following the end of over 20 years of success under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Mourinho was the third manager hired since the retirement of Sir Alex.  Also Mourinho himself was somewhat under a cloud after an apparent fall out with senior players at Chelsea FC.

Manchester United set about building a team to regain their glory.  Romalu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez are amongst the highest paid players in the English Premier League.

Things went reasonably well in Mourinho’s first season with the club winning 2 trophies – the League Cup and Europa League.  Manchester United finished runners up to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City the following season.

But by the start of his 3rd season in charge all was not so well.  This came to a head in the form of public disagreements with the club’s record signing Paul Pogba and other squad members.

The media began reporting of splits in the team.  Performances declined and it was said that the team had stopped playing for the manager.  Mourinho and his staff left the club in December 2018 with a reported £20 million termination package.

Since the departure of Jose Mourinho, Manchester United have lost just 2 of 17 games.  The same team that was struggling has progressed to the last eight of the European Champions League.

What qualities do we look for in a manager?

qualities required of premier league football managers

Whether in charge of a retail business, financial institution or a football club; a Manager is judged by the performance of their team.

In most cases a Manager will inherit the team they manage.  Over time they will shape the team to reflect their ideals.  In very few instances does a Manager have the luxury of creating a new team from scratch.

Skills / Qualities required by a Manager

  • Leadership:  In any industry a Manager is the leader.  They provide the direction and implement the policies or strategies that move the organisation or team forward.
  • Motivation:  A good Manager must be capable of motivating and convincing his team towards their goal.  ‘Man management’ is a vital quality that nearly all great managers possess.
  • Team Building:  The Manager is responsible for bringing a group of individuals together and mould them into functioning unit.
  • Communication:  Getting ‘the message across’ is one of the most important roles of a Manager.  Out of the 20 English Premier League Managers, only 6 are British.  This might not have a serious influence, but in some cases cultural differences can lead to a disconnect within the team.

So Why Are Premier League Football Managers Less Powerful Than Ever?

The three examples we have highlighted seem to have a common thread.  Gone are the days when the manager was the most important person in the club.  In all three cases when there is a power struggle – the manager was sacrificed.

Here are some of the main reasons why Premier League Football Managers are losing authority in the modern era.

Owners:  Only seven of the 20 Premier League clubs are headed by British owners.  The majority of clubs are controlled by either multi-national organizations or super rich individuals. 

The fact is that for many their ownership is simply a business decision.  Like the fans, many of these owner want to see immediate success for their clubs.  Most have bought their club for huge amounts.  They then spend fortunes on new players and expect a Manager to deliver success relatively quickly.

Players:  The English Premier League is the richest football league in the world.  Players in the league are extremely well paid.  Many players are earning twice the salary of their manager. Then you can add to that the huge current transfer fees.  A player is now an asset with a sell-on value. 

Another major factor is club loyalty.  Whilst most fans will only ever support one club in their life, the days of the ‘one-club player’ is over.  The EPL is one of – if not the most – diverse football league.  Many overseas players may know of the top 4 or 5 Premier League teams; the same may not be true of Burnley, Bournemouth or Huddersfield. 

The modern day player also has a lot more influence than his predecessors.  A player can now run down their contract and attract huge wages because they are saving the buying club a transfer fee.

Fans:  Gone are the days when fans were prepared to give managers the time to build a team.  The average appointment for a Premier League manager is around 2.5 years.  For many a mid table position is not enough.  With billionaire owners investing huge amounts in football, fans now demand instant success; regardless how realistic that may be.

Media:  Football now commands huge media interest.  Players such as Paul Pogba are followed by millions on Social Media networks such as Instagram. 

The press are constantly looking for stories to fill their TV channels, radio programmes, web sites, magazines or papers.  It is often hard to decide whether the press is leading or simply reporting issues.  Stories that start off as ‘harmless gossip’, can swiftly escalate into serious issues with significant repercussions.

Should We Feel Sorry For Premier League Football Managers?

Of course Premier League football managers are not poor endangered species.  They are at the top of their profession and highly paid for their services. Whilst they may not be in one job for long, the same names seem to be in the hat when a vacancy becomes available.

A great example is Claudio Ranieri who created history when managing Leicester City to the Premier League title in 2015/16.  He was sacked by Leicester the following season and by his next 2 clubs.  Since 1986 Ranieri has managed around 15 clubs and the Greek national team.