The international break is usually the time when under-fire managers start to look over their shoulders in fear.
The two-week hiatus from club football is the ideal time for cutthroat owners to sack their incumbent and hand the reins to a successor, giving them time to bed in and work with their new players on the training ground.
Watford decided that was the right play in September and sacked Rob Edwards – after a whopping ten league games in charge, no less – before replacing him with Slaven Bilic.
Unusually, no Premier League chairmen or women decided to pull the trigger, and that’s a decision you suspect will have pleased Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers no end.
He’s been the favourite in the ‘sack race’ market for quite some time after overseeing a slump in form at the Foxes that has seen the club win just eight of their last 25 Premier League matches.
Later in this article we’ll have a look at how much it would cost Leicester to sack Rodgers and appoint a replacement, and – spoiler alert – the Irishman can perhaps thank the Foxes’ parlous financial state for keeping his job as opposed to any notion of loyalty.
In short, it costs a small fortune to sack your manager….as Manchester United found to their cost when dismissing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick in recent times.
The £24 Million Gamble
At this point, money in football has taken on an almost Monopoly-like quality….it’s just bits of paper, or perhaps more pertinently numbers on a spreadsheet.
But there will be a time when posting £100 million plus in losses each season will come back to haunt you, and such accounting concern is not helped by the eight-figure sums often required to dismiss a manager from their contract.
In 2021, Manchester United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from the Old Trafford hotseat and replaced him with interim successor Ralf Rangnick.
The problem is that Solskjaer had signed a new three-year deal at the club just four months previously, and so United chiefs were left facing a hefty compensation bill when showing the Norwegian the exit.
Rangnick agreed to become the club’s new manager until the end of the 2021/22 season, at which point he would move ‘upstairs’ into a consultancy role.
But the German was relieved of his duties following a disappointing campaign, and in the end it worked out that United paid a staggering £24.7 million in compensation to Solskjaer and Rangnick to get them off the books.
Add into the mix the £2.5 million United paid in compensation to Ajax to snap up Erik ten Hag, and you have an idea of the extraordinary financial costs involved in appointing a bad manager and then having to replace them thereafter.
Counting the Cost
The only positive spin on the gigantic sums that United have been forced to pay out is that at least they have the commercial pull to make the money back.
Clubs like Leicester City lack the clout required to spend money willy-nilly, and their woeful earnings and loss account – estimates suggest they could report annual losses of £120 million in 2022 – confirms they simply cannot make any expensive moves.
Their supporters will perhaps be wishing they had tightened their belt before handing Rodgers an extortionate new contract back in 2019 that extended his deal to 2025 – at a cost of £10 million a year, with only Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte picking up a bigger pay packet.
The rub is that it will cost a pretty penny to sack Rodgers and hand him a severance package – media reports suggest that cheque could be worth more than £10 million.
There’s another spanner in the works. The Foxes would have to replace Rodgers if they sacked him, but the reality is that they would be unable to afford a sizable compensation package to poach a new head coach from another club.
So, they would have to pick from the current array of out-of-work managers, and if they don’t fancy any of those then they will simply have to stumble on with Rodgers until someone more appealing does come along.
It’s a bizarre situation that only football’s increasingly out-of-control financial climate could create.
Which Manager Has Earned the Most From Being Sacked?
Even though it seems to go with the territory these days, being sacked as a football manager must – by its very nature – be a humiliating and hurtful process.
But at least those that fall foul of an owner’s wrath can dry their eyes on the countless bank notes they are paid to gracefully depart the dugout.
Take Jose Mourinho, for example. He has been sacked on four occasions by Premier League clubs – Chelsea (twice), Manchester United and Tottenham, and in the process ‘earned’ himself a cool £97 million in compensation. That, you’ll be intrigued to hear, paid him around £42,000 for his days in charge, on top of his actual salary. Being publicly embarrassed must never have felt so good.
Unsurprisingly, Mourinho is the king of the hill when it comes to the managers who have raked in the most from being sacked, although Mauricio Pochettino (£45 million) and Antonio Conte (£22 million) have enjoyed handsome returns for their perceived incompetence.