Carlos Carvalhal: Not Just a Case of 'New Manager Bounce'
Fans, pundits, journalists, managers and even former managers often talk about the 'new manager bounce` effect - when a new boss comes in and sees an almost immediate improvement in form and performances, but is it fair to simply suggest that the only reason for the turnaround is that there`s a new manager in place that the players are trying to impress?
It`s widely mentioned that players up their game, increase their energy levels and desire to impress the new gaffer and earn a first team place, and while that`s most often the case, that`s not the sole reason for better results and performances.
Simply because that it doesn`t always happen. Not every manager arrives at a struggling club and experiences a good start. Stoke and West Brom are good examples of that, not to mention Bob Bradley when he arrived at the Liberty Stadium last season. While West Brom have improved their form somewhat since Pardew`s arrival in November, they are still rooted to the bottom of the table, four points adrift of anyone else. He`s managed 14 league games, winning just 3, drawing 5 and losing 6 - a points per game average of 1.0 exactly.
Paul Lambert, arriving at Stoke in mid-January, has managed four league games, winning 1 and drawing 2, so again, hardly a noteworthy improvement, but it`s still early days for the former Villa boss - who replaced Mark Hughes.
I find it`s an injustice when mentioning the new manager bounce when new managers do well . Roy Hodgson deserves plenty of praise for his impact at Crystal Palace, and because of his reputation - he`s the one manager who has been given the praise he most definitely deserves. The Eagles were rock bottom, and hadn`t even scored a Premier League goal under Frank de Boer. The improvement wasn`t immediate, but after only one win in his first 4 games, there were standout victories against Chelsea, Southampton, Stoke, Watford, Leicester and Burnley to help them move out of the relegation zone.
After 26 games, Hodgson`s points per game is 1.15, compared to Carvalhal`s quite incredible 2.00 after 11 games.
But despite such an impressive points per game haul, you can`t but feel that the Portuguese hasn`t received the plaudits he most definitely deserves. After another home win on Saturday against Burnley, our third in a row, his opposite number Sean Dyche was full of excuses, saying his injury-struck side were up against an improved Swansea:
'But the reality is that a team that eight games ago had nowhere near this kind of endeavour, with the crowd not behind them like they were today, suddenly they have those things. When a new manager comes in, sometimes that is the way it goes.'
Paul Clement was another who talked about the new manager bounce in his first major interview following his sacking from the Swans.
'It`s interesting what`s happening now with [Carlos] Carvalhal [Clement`s successor] because it`s almost a carbon copy of what happened when I went in one year ago. I got that new manager bounce. I went four wins out of six, and he`s three out of five, almost identical. He`ll probably get manager of the month. I got manager of the month for January.'
'Because they beat Arsenal and Liverpool [under Carvalhal], the perception is straightaway, 'Oh maybe it wasn`t a problem with the players, the problem was me.` Perception is unbelievable, how it can be shaped in people`s minds without knowing really the details behind everything.' Like recruitment.
I feel Clement his doing both himself and Carvalhal a disservice here. I don`t think either is a case of the new manager bounce. I`ve been highly critical of Clement this season, but he does deserve credit for his work in keeping us up last season. He sorted things out from the mess that Bob Bradley left, and played to our strengths, identifying Sigurdsson`s quality and Llorente`s aerial ability as the key - and it worked.
Carvalhal too has come in and changed things around in a big way. He`s made a huge impact behind the scenes by all accounts. On the pitch, the whole dynamic has changed, and if the players were robots - he`s re-programmed them, reset their confidence levels to a decent level and has found new roles for the likes of Clucas, as well as giving Jordan Ayew a much-needed new lease of life.
It`s factors like this that deserves a lot of credit. There`s smaller details as well, like Carvalhal`s positive substitutes that proved pivotal in the late win against Burnley. He took off left-back Martin Olsson, dropping Clucas back to left wing-back, and brought on new signing Andre Ayew, and later Tammy Abraham.
That left us with a front three of the Ayew brothers and Abraham, and we had the momentum to go on and win after a rather uneventful first half. His positivity and extra belief in the players has been huge since he arrived and it`s rubbed off on the fans too. Only now do we believe we can win games and beat almost anyone. Coming back from behind to beat Arsenal and Watford would have been unthinkable achievements prior to his appointment, as well as a home win with a clean sheet against Liverpool and a comeback draw away at Leicester.
The turnaround has been quite remarkable when no one gave us or Carvalhal for that matter - a chance of surviving. Let`s just hope he can keep it going!