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Monday, January 15, 2024

Newcastle, Chelsea omen shows Ten Hag should fear Ratcliffe at Man Utd but Arsenal offer hope

The last three takeovers or major investments have led to a change of manager inside six months. Or a fortnight in Newcastle’s case. Jamie Carragher is probably right when it comes to Erik ten Hag…

The common perception is that new owners like to bring in their own managers. Jamie Carragher suggested in his column ↗ for The Telegraph that Sir Jim Ratcliffe would take a similar approach at Manchester United, effectively putting Erik ten Hag on trial for the remainder of the season.

Is it true, though, that any manager should be looking over their shoulders upon a takeover?

We’ve gone back through the last 10 takeovers or major investments at current Premier League clubs and it is certainly the case that the three most recent new owners haven’t wasted much time. Four incumbent bosses lasted at least a year, though none made it to two.

Starting with the most recent…

Bournemouth – six months
The Cherries were sold to American businessman William Foley in December 2022, with actor Michael B. Jordan leading a minority ownership group.

They didn’t mess about when it came to their manager. Gary O’Neil was the previous regime’s man and though he did a stellar job in keeping Foley’s new plaything in the Premier League, the boss was axed and immediately replaced by Andoni Iraola in June 2023.

Though it has worked out fine for all concerned, Foley admitted he “didn’t feel good” about binning O’Neil. “I’m a big fan of Gary O’Neil… It really wasn’t so much about Gary not doing what he was asked to do, it was more about the opportunity to give our football club a different identity through the coach.”

Chelsea – 100 days
Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital took over Chelsea in May 2022 after Roman Abramovich was forced by the government to give up his football club.

Thomas Tuchel was in place – but not for long. Boehly and co. felt it necessary to make a change a month into their first season as owners.

“As the new ownership group reaches 100 days since taking over the club, and as it continues its hard work to take the club forward, the new owners believe it is the right time to make this transition,” read the club statement over Tuchel’s sacking. They thought Graham Potter was the man to take them forward. He was not.

Newcastle – 13 days
The Saudi PIF and PCP Capital Partners eventually got the green light to take over Newcastle in October 2021. Upon which time, without the protection offered by Mike Ashley’s general apathy towards his football club, Steve Bruce was a dead man walking.

It took the new regime less than a fortnight to mutually consent Bruce out of his job, much to the delight of the Toon Army.

Really, the only surprise was that it took so long.

Read more: Erik ten Hag is basically the Man Utd interim manager and Sunday his first real audition ↗

Crystal Palace – one year, seven months
Palace’s ownership was split four ways in August 2021 when John Textor invested almost £90million for close to 18 per cent of the club. Similarly to Ratcliffe at Manchester United, Textor wanted to buy the club outright but settled for an arrangement where any major decisions had to be reached by consensus between himself, chairman Steve Parish, Josh Harris and David Blitzer.

Palace had only recently appointed a new manager, Patrick Vieira, when Textor chucked his money in. And there was no reason for another change after the Frenchman led Palace to 12th in the Premier League and the FA Cup semi-finals. Only when it started to go badly wrong the following season did Palace feel it necessary to swing the axe.

Burnley – one year, three months
ALK Capital, led by Alan Pace, took over Burnley at the turn of the year during the 2020-21 season. The Clarets were 16th then and finished 17th to swerve the drop, with Sean Dyche again making what little he had to work with go as far as he could.

The next season, after little investment in the squad amid the realisation that the takeover had loaded debt on to the club, Burnley again struggled. Dyche, after a decade, was shown the door in April 2022.

“While this was an incredibly difficult decision, with eight crucial games of the campaign remaining, we feel a change is needed to give the squad the best possible chance of retaining its Premier League status.” It made no difference. Burnley finished 18th, where Dyche had left them.

What a joke!
If you had given him a decent budget you would never have had a worry about getting relegated. https://t.co/uIG7bL2nUl ↗

— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) April 15, 2022 ↗

Sheffield United – 18 months
Prince Abdullah has been the sole owner of Sheffield United since the Saudi won a High Court battle with previous chairman Kevin McCabe in September 2019.

The timing seemed perfect for Prince Abdullah. Chris Wilder was doing great things while shaping the Blades to finish ninth in the Premier League.

The following season, mostly played behind closed doors, was a different story with the Blades struggling as many expected them to initially. Wilder made it to March 2021 amid reports of disagreements with the owner over squad strengthening.

Still, Prince Abdullah didn’t hold a grudge. The pair reconciled after Wilder parted, to the extent that he was rehired when Paul Heckingbottom was shown the door this season.

Aston Villa – two and a half months
Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens took control of Villa in July 2018 with the club languishing in the Championship under Steve Bruce.

The big decision to bin Bruce wasn’t so big really. The fans wanted rid, with one of their methods of protest coming in cabbage form in his final game in charge. Upon that defeat, it was one win in nine for beleaguered Bruce.

Sawiris and Edens said little, with Bruce simply thanked for his efforts and packed off on his way. In came Dean Smith who put Villa on the road to Europe.

Arsenal – one year, three months
The summer of 2018 was a time of huge, unsettling change at Arsenal. Gone was Arsene Wenger to be replaced by Unai Emery, while Stan Kroenke won the battle for overall control of the club when he bought Alisher Usmanov’s shares and gobbled up all the others too.

Emery’s first season saw the Gunners finish fifth in the Premier League before losing the Europa League final. His second season was even more of a struggle, and with Arsenal eighth in November 2019, Emery was shown the door.

Josh Kroenke’s immediate reaction was to offer “our most sincere thanks to Unai and his colleagues who were unrelenting in their efforts to get the club back to competing at the level we all expect and demand”. Though two days later, he admitted the decision had been coming “for weeks”.

Mikel Arteta was eventually brought in and things have gone fairly well since.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery during the UEFA Europa League Group F match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 28, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Nottingham Forest – seven and a half months
Evangelos Marinakis bought Forest from Fawaz al-Hasawi in May 2017 with the club in the Championship – just. They had survived on the final day of the season to swerve the drop into League One.

Marinakis immediately offered his backing to manager Mark Warburton – which lasted until the final day of the year.

Warburton was sacked on New Year’s Eve with Forest 14th while possessing the worst defensive record in the Championship.

Everton – two and a half months
Farhad Moshiri bought 49.9 per cent of Everton in February 2016 before increasing his stake to 94 per cent. Which he now wants to shift.

Roberto Martinez was in the hot-seat when Moshiri first invested but the manager’s three-year reign was brought to a halt before the new owner had been in place for three months.

Martinez was praised for his “utmost integrity and dignity” and being a “great ambassador” if a rather mediocre manager. Moshiri’s first hire was Ronald Koeman, who finished little over a season later with a marginally worse win percentage than Martinez’s 42.86.

Michael Maren
Michael Maren
Former marine biologist who likes to spend as much time in the tropics as possible, due to a horrible time I once had in Alaska. Brrrr.

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