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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2006, 21:15 GMT
Why sacking doesn't succeed
Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock is living proof that loyalty towards football managers pays off.

Warnock has been in charge of Sheffield United for just over six years and has put them in pole position for promotion to the Premiership at the end of the season.

"Even managers who have been at a club a long time have periods when it would be easier for the board to get shot of them," Warnock told BBC Sport.

"The key is for directors to hold their nerve at times like that.

"I've been lucky enough to have a board of directors who have backed me. With a bit of luck I can repay that."

United's decision to leave Warnock in charge for all that time is backed up by a report by the Warwick Business School into football management.

The report adds academic weight to what most football fans already knew - that clubs who part company with their managers regularly are less likely to succeed than those who stand by their man.

The report extols the virtues of clubs like Manchester United, Crewe, Charlton and Arsenal as those who have succeeded by keeping the faith.

At the other end of the scale, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Notts County and Barnsley have got their just desserts for chopping and changing their managers, according to the report.

Clubs with fewest managers, 1992-2005 (win percentage)
Charlton, 1 manager, 38.51% wins
Crewe, 1 manager, 37.66%
Man Utd, 1 manager, 56.67%
Wrexham, 2 managers, 36.99%
Arsenal, 3 managers, 51.23%
Ipswich, 3 managers, 43%
Liverpool, 3 managers, 47.86%
Middlesbrough, 3 managers, 39.1%
Port Vale, 3 managers, 36.37%

Warnock has endured some tough times in his six years at Sheffield United, times when he admits it would have been all too easy for a less patient board to axe him.

"It does take a lot of courage from directors to keep a cool head when the crowd and everyone else are on their backs," he said.

"The problem these days is that the stakes are a lot higher, and it's not too easy to take a long-term view when relegation or a failed promotion could cost your club millions of pounds.

"Every football manager goes into the job knowing that one day he will get the sack."

Clubs with biggest turnover, 1992-2005
Crystal Palace, 13 managers
Southampton, 12 managers
Notts County, Barnsley, Stoke, Cardiff, 11 managers

The report addresses the age-old question of whether poor results prompt sackings, or constant change creates poor results.

Not surprisingly, it argues that poor performance on the pitch is the result of managerial musical chairs off it.

League Managers' Association chief executive John Barnwell said: "The report has been done independently and the analysis proves conclusively that continuous changing of managers does not bring you the required success.

ONE MAN BAND, Sir Alex Ferguson's success
Appointed 1986
Eight Premiership titles
Five FA Cups
European Cup
Euro Cup-Winners Cup
One League Cup
One Super Cup

"Therefore, not only does it make the situation unstable and not only does the club not realise its ambitions, but it becomes a very costly exercise because of the financial implications of removing the manager."

Barnwell feels all future managers and coaches in the Football League should have to earn a coaching qualification and added: "We think it would be beneficial for the game in this country.

"The Premier League has already got the Pro Licence which is mandatory, but there are no mandatory requirements for our managers in the Football League."

In the meantime, Warnock is cute enough to realise that not all change is bad.

"Sometimes a manager does need to be changed. He can get stale, the players under him can get stale and when that happens the only option is to get rid of him."


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