With rates of manager sackings on the up, should there be a window in which clubs can dismiss coaches?
Being a football manager is a challenging job. The pressure is on for them to lead their teams to success. More often than not, coaches are the first domino to fall when things go wrong.
The financial incentives involved with staying in a country's top division are so significant that clubs quickly become desperate to survive if they fall into a relegation battle. As a result, any loyalty from owners falls drastically towards their managers. On average, managers spend much less time in their jobs than a decade ago.
CIES Football Observatory specialises in the analysis of football. According to their research, during the 2022/23 season, on average, one in two coaches got fired mid-season globally.
However, over in Tunisia in the same year, all 16 first-team managers in the first division were sacked, as were 90% in the Bosnian and North Macedonian leagues.
There were some countries with more job security. Only one of 11 managers in India were relieved of their duties. However, the Indian Football League does not have the threat of relegation, so clubs don't fear the drop. This could change in a few short years as stakeholders have agreed on a structured road map to see teams face relegation or achieve promotion to a higher league.
Over in Europe, Italy had the highest percentage of managers remaining in their role. Just over 70% kept their jobs. While in the Premier League, 55% of managers were sacked, making it the most dangerous major league for managers on the continent.
Ultimately, football clubs are a business. Like any other industry, jobs are responsibly at risk if a club isn't performing well. But is there a fine line between acting with conviction and acting too rashly?
"I think the issue is that so much of football in the modern world is now about perception," explained Gabriel Sutton, writer for The Sack Race.
"Clubs are very much obsessed with the branding side of things, how they are seen by the outside world. So, whereas 10 to 20 years ago, owners would've been more inclined to show faith in a manager and trust the process, now they are thinking, 'What do other people think when they look at us?'. That is an issue we've got to challenge first of all." Gabriel concluded.
There have been occasions where showing faith in a struggling manager has paid off. Mikel Arteta faced calls to be sacked by Arsenal in 2021 for failing to qualify his team for the Champions League. Just two years later, the Gunners came close to winning the title after a huge upturn in form.
In 2002, FIFA made it compulsory for player transfers to happen during specific periods of the year. This is what we now call the transfer window. Over 20 years on, it's hard to imagine football without it. Under the rules, confederations can decide the dates of two windows per calendar year. One must be at most eight weeks, while the second must be at most four.
With the player transfer window now an integral and universal aspect of football business, is it time to introduce a similar concept for managers?
Pedro Mendonca, a UEFA-qualified football coach, believes it would give managers more time to impose their philosophies in coaching roles.
"It's a good idea because you have time to stay at the club and more time to show your work. But what could also work is a rule like they have in Spain, where managers can only manage one club per season. So, if you start like Xavi in Barcelona, he cannot coach more teams in the Spanish league for that season. That may be a good middle solution." Pedro told Football Now.
Every cloud has a silver lining, as the saying goes. Being fired can come with a big payout from the club. Managers can also receive the remainder of the salary in the contract. Antonio Conte, Julian Nagelsmann and Laurent Blanc are managers who received upwards of €17 million after losing their jobs.
As football continues to evolve, it may reach a stage where, one day, a managerial transfer window feels just as commonplace as the player transfer window. For now, managers remain under constant pressure to have an instant impact.