Even by Chelsea’s standards, having a different manager in the dugout for each of their last three matches is some going, but it sums up the constant managerial turbulence that has come to define the 2022-23 Premier League season.
Graham Potter was the first appointment of the Todd Boehly era but he was unceremoniously dismissed after just seven months at Stamford Bridge. By sending Potter packing in early April, the Blues brought about the 13th manager change of this Premier League campaign overall. The previous record for a single season stood at 10 sackings.
Of course, the upheaval caused by hiring and firing coaches midseason is generally weighed against the fabled “new manager bounce” that supposedly comes with the introduction of new personnel to add fresh impetus to a jaded set of players and new ideas to change what has gone wrong. But have any of the Premier League clubs who swapped out their coaching staff this season actually benefit from the bounce, or is it simply just a figment of the collective footballing imagination?
Here we assess each new managerial arrival (either permanent or interim, not caretaker) of 2022-23 in chronological order and look at how they each fared in their opening six games to ascertain if any instant improvement in fortunes did indeed take place.
We look at whether each new coach brought about a new manager “bounce” (an immediate and sustained improvement in performances), a “bump” (a temporary but unspectacular upturn) or a “bust” (anything from affecting no discernible change to a further disintegration in form and morale).
1. Gary O’Neil, Bournemouth (replaced Scott Parker on Aug. 30, 2022)
First six Premier League games: P6 W2 D4 L0
Bournemouth 0-0 Wolves
Nottingham Forest 2-3 Bournemouth
Newcastle 1-1 Bournemouth
Bournemouth 0-0 Brentford
Bournemouth 2-1 Leicester
Fulham 2-2 Bournemouth
After losing three consecutive games by a cumulative score of 16-0 at the beginning of the season, Parker was sacked just four games in after a particularly brutal 9-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool. O’Neil, part of Parker’s coaching staff, was named as immediate successor, taking over on an initial interim basis.
Bournemouth picked up 10 points from O’Neil’s first 12 games at the wheel, which in turn earned him an 18-month contract which was signed Nov. 27. The 39-year-old is still in charge at the Vitality Stadium with his side 15th on 30 points, three points above the relegation zone.
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2. Graham Potter, Chelsea (replaced Thomas Tuchel on Sept. 8, 2022)
P6 W1 D1 L4
Brighton 4-1 Chelsea
Chelsea 0-1 Arsenal
Newcastle 1-0 Chelsea
Chelsea 2-0 Bournemouth
Nottingham Forest 1-1 Chelsea
Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City
Tuchel was surprisingly sacked after Chelsea lost two of their opening six Premier League fixtures amid friction between the German coach and the club’s new hierarchy. He was replaced the following day by Potter, who had seen his burgeoning reputation hit new heights by guiding Brighton & Hove Albion to ninth in 2021-22, their highest-ever top-flight finish.
After losing heavily to his former side in his first game, Potter’s rough start continued over a run of testing if not wholly insurmountable fixtures. Despite reaching the Champions League knockout phase, the stagnation set in over the next seven months until Potter was sacked in early April having won just four of his 19 league games. He left the Blues wallowing in 11th place after slumping to a dreary 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa in his final game.
3. Roberto De Zerbi, Brighton (replaced Graham Potter on Sept. 18, 2022)
P6 W4 D0 L2
Brighton 4-1 Chelsea
Wolves 2-3 Brighton
Brighton 1-2 Aston Villa
Southampton 1-3 Brighton
Brighton 2-4 Arsenal
Everton 1-4 Brighton
De Zerbi, the only manager this season to replace a manager who left for another job rather than be fired, had spent the 2021-22 season in Ukraine with Shakhtar Donetsk. Prior to that, the 43-year-old Italian coach had cut his teeth in the Italian lower leagues and then in Serie A with Sassuolo, who he guided to eighth place in 2020-21.
With intelligent tactics bringing plenty of goals to a team that had previously found them hard to come by, Brighton have won nine and drawn four of the 17 Premier League games they have played under De Zerbi including impressive victories over Chelsea and Liverpool. With a buoyant atmosphere restored, the Seagulls are hovering up in seventh place and are tailing just 10 points behind Manchester United in fourth. Indeed, a new record-high league finish might even be on the cards if they can sustain their form for a few more weeks.
4. Julen Lopetegui, Wolverhampton Wanderers (replaced Bruno Lage on Nov. 5, 2022)
P6 W3 D1 L2
Everton 1-2 Wolves
Wolves 0-1 Manchester United
Aston Villa 1-1 Wolves
Wolves 1-0 West Ham
Manchester City 3-0 Wolves
Wolves 3-0 Liverpool
After a five-game winless run saw Wolves slip down into the relegation zone having only managed to score three goals in the first two months of the season, Lage was dismissed on Oct. 2.
Lopetegui’s arrival at Molineux was delayed — he didn’t take charge of his first game until Dec. 26, with caretakers Steve Davis and James Collins presiding over a 2-0 loss to Arsenal before the World Cup break — sparked an instant upturn in form that saw Wolves begin to find the net and claw their way out of the bottom three. The West Midlands club have since won six of their subsequent 15 games and are holding fast in 13th place, though they are still only four points above the drop zone.
5. Unai Emery, Aston Villa (replaced Steven Gerrard on Oct. 24, 2022)
P6 W3 D1 L2
Newcastle 4-0 Villa
Villa 3-1 Manchester United
Brighton 1-2 Villa
Villa 1-3 Liverpool
Tottenham 0-2 Villa
Villa 1-1 Wolves
Gerrard was sacked by Villa after 11 months in charge following a galling 3-0 defeat to newly promoted Fulham on a cold midweek night in late October — his beleaguered side’s sixth defeat in 11 Premier League outings. Interim coach Aaron Danks then took charge of a 4-0 win over Brentford before Emery assumed full control.
Villa were teetering perilously above the relegation zone on goals scored when Gerrard departed. They are now sixth in the table, six points off European qualification and can boast a run of 11 wins in 18 league games under the Spaniard. What’s more, his team are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games and have won all of their last four.
6. Nathan Jones, Southampton (replaced Ralph Hasenhuttl on Nov. 10, 2022)
P6 W1 D0 L5
Liverpool 3-1 Southampton
Southampton 1-3 Brighton
Southampton 0-1 Nottingham Forest
Everton 1-2 Southampton
Southampton 0-1 Villa
Brentford 3-0 Southampton
Hasenhuttl’s four-year tenure at Southampton came to an end in early November when a run of six defeats in nine Premier League games saw the Saints become a fixture in the relegation zone.
After one game under caretaker Ruben Selles (a 4-1 home defeat against Newcastle), Jones was hired as the man to save Saints’ season. Unfortunately the anticipated bounce was not forthcoming as the situation worsened, results did not improve and the former Luton Town coach’s reign was cut short three months later with just three more points on the board.
7. Sean Dyche, Everton (replaced Frank Lampard on Jan. 30, 2023)
P6 W2 D1 L3
Everton 1-0 Arsenal
Liverpool 2-0 Everton
Everton 1-0 Leeds
Everton 0-2 Aston Villa
Arsenal 4-0 Everton
Nottingham Forest 2-2 Everton
After clinging on for what felt like an eternity, Lampard was finally sacked with Everton second from bottom of the table on Jan. 23 following a miserable 2-0 defeat against fellow strugglers West Ham. This was after the ailing Toffees had gone eight games and almost three months without a league win.
Dyche kicked off his tenure in typical fashion with a gritty, physical win over league leaders Arsenal to earn Everton’s first Premier League victory since October. The former Burnley boss then took 12 points from his first 10 games to lift his new side out of the relegation zone. However, they are 17th and it is goal difference alone that separates them from the bottom three as things stand.
8. Javi Gracia, Leeds United (replaced Jesse Marsch on Feb. 21, 2023)
P6 W3 D1 L2
Leeds 1-0 Southampton
Chelsea 1-0 Leeds
Leeds 2-2 Brighton
Wolves 2-4 Leeds
Arsenal 4-1 Leeds
Leeds 2-1 Nottingham Forest
Marsch was sacked on Feb. 6 after a dire 1-0 defeat to fellow relegation rivals Nottingham Forest left Leeds perched one place above the bottom three. Firstly, caretaker Michael Skubala steered the ship for three games (P3 W0 D1 L2) until former Watford boss Javi Gracia was introduced as his new full-time replacement later that month.
Leeds have since risen one place to 16th, two points above relegation zone after Gracia successfully accrued 10 points from his first seven games in charge at Elland Road. It had previously taken Leeds five months since October to earn the same sum of points prior to the Spanish coach’s appointment, although Sunday’s 5-1 home loss to Crystal Palace is a major setback.
9. Ruben Selles, interim at Southampton (replaced Nathan Jones on Feb. 12, 2023)
P6 W2 D2 L2
Chelsea 0-1 Southampton
Leeds 1-0 Southampton
Southampton 1-0 Leicester City
Manchester United 0-0 Southampton
Southampton 0-2 Brentford
Southampton 3-3 Tottenham
With no noticeable change in their fortunes, Southampton parted company with their second manager in the space of 95 days as Jones won just one league game during his stint as Saints’ shortest-serving manager of the Premier League era.
A 2-1 home defeat to Wolves on Feb. 11 proved to be the final straw for Jones with Selles returning to resume his caretaker role. The Spaniard has managed to pick up a brace of exceedingly rare victories during the first eight games of his second spell in temporary charge, earning him the role until the end of the season. However, hapless Saints are still rock bottom of the table and winless in five.
10. Roy Hodgson, interim at Crystal Palace (replaced Patrick Vieira on March 21, 2023)
P2 W2 D0 L1
Crystal Palace 2-1 Leicester
Leeds 1-5 Crystal Palace
Palace sacked Vieira on March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) having gone 12 games without a win. Indeed, just prior to the Frenchman’s dismissal, the Eagles also set a new Premier League record by going three straight games without registering a single shot on target.
Upon Vieira’s sacking, Palace were mid-table in 12th but only four points above the relegation zone. First-team coach Paddy McCarthy then stepped in as caretaker to oversee a 4-1 defeat against league leaders Arsenal before Roy Hodgson officially returned to the fold in late March.
At the age of 75, Hodgson agreed to come out of retirement and take charge at Palace on an interim basis to see out the season. They are unbeaten in two games since, winning consecutive Premier League games for the first time since early November. Hodgson’s resurgent side are still 12th but are now six points above the drop zone with eight league fixtures left to play.
11. Cristian Stellini, interim at Tottenham Hotspur (replaced Antonio Conte on March 27, 2023)
P2 W1 D1 L0
Everton 1-1 Tottenham
Tottenham 2-1 Brighton
With scathing words being spoken in public as internal tensions reached breaking point, Conte was canned by Tottenham on March 26 following an absurd 3-3 draw against bottom side Southampton, in scenes eerily familiar to Jose Mourinho’s similarly grouchy exit two years prior.
Conte’s former assistant Cristian Stellini was promoted to interim head coach for the remainder of the season as Spurs launched a hunt for their fourth full-time head coach in as many years. For all the club’s managerial travails, they are fifth in the Premier League table under Stellini and just three points stand between them and a Champions League qualification spot.
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12. Frank Lampard, interim at Chelsea (replaced Graham Potter on April 6, 2023)
Wolves 1-0 Chelsea
After seven rather barren months in charge, Chelsea sacked Graham Potter last Sunday following a risible 2-0 home defeat against Aston Villa that saw the Blues slide down into the bottom half of the table. Potter was in charge of 19 league games at Stamford Bridge and won only four, taking just 18 points in total. Following his inevitable departure, his former assistant Bruno Saltor became the first to step into the breach as interim head coach to oversee the goalless draw against Liverpool on April 4.
Bruno’s tenure lasted two days before Chelsea turned to club legend Frank Lampard, sacked by Everton in January, as their new interim coach with the former Blues’ midfielder agreeing to take over until the end of the 2022-23 season. This meant that Chelsea played under their third manager in three games when they travelled to face Wolves on April 6, which ended in a 1-0 defeat at Molineux.
Even if Lampard manages to get a tune out of Chelsea’s bloated squad with eight league games left to play, it is highly unlikely he can lead them to European qualification unless he wins the Champions League this season. Next up for the Blues is Wednesday’s trip to face reigning champions Real Madrid.
13. Dean Smith, interim at Leicester City (replaced Brendan Rodgers on April 10, 2023)
Rodgers’ run as Leicester manager came to an abrupt and underwhelming end on April 2 after a run of six league games without a win that left the side in the relegation zone. A woeful 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace proved to be the death knell, with the result seeing the Foxes slip to 18th place with just 10 matches of the season remaining.
Since then, co-caretakers Mike Stowell and Adam Sadler have overseen two league games between them; defeats against Aston Villa and Bournemouth.
Two points below the dotted line of doom as things stand, 19th-placed Leicester have since announced that Dean Smith will be interim manager for the remainder of the campaign, which leaves the former Aston Villa boss with just eight games to pull off some sort of miracle.
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