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What are the odds on debut wins for Howe, Smith & Gerrard?
Gareth Freeman
Gareth Freeman
November 15, 2021
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Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.

Every football fan is familiar with the supposed ‘new manager bounce’ phenomenon, where teams enjoy an instant upturn in form when a new manager takes charge, and with three new bosses set to oversee their first games this weekend I’ve taken a look at the odds and assessed their chances of kicking off their tenures with wins at their respective clubs.

Eddie Howe is in the hot seat at Newcastle and Aston Villa have brought in Steven Gerrard to replace Dean Smith, who barely had time to clear out his desk at Villa Park before signing on at bottom club Norwich.

All three new managers have home games this weekend and wins for all three pays out at a tempting 23/1 – but can we trust the idea of the ‘new boss bounce’?

New Boss Bounce Treble

Since the start of the 2019/20 Premier League season there have been 13 new managers who have joined a club mid-season, I’ve disregarded summer changes as the challenge is a little different for a new man taking charge when a campaign is already underway.

There have been two managerial changes this season and neither Watford manager Claudio Ranieri or Tottenham’s Antonio Conte managed wins in their first games in charge.

There were four changes in total last season and only Ryan Mason as interim Tottenham manager picked up a win in his first game. The fact Sam Allardyce and Paul Heckingbottom were unable to win their debuts at West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United respectively isn’t a surprise, but Thomas Tuchel’s failure to claim all three points at Chelsea is – with the Blues playing out a 0-0 draw with Wolves at Stamford Bridge.

Going back to 2019/20, there were seven managerial changes in mid-season and three of those came at Watford. Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and David Moyes all won their first games in charge.

That gives us a win percentage of just 30.77% for new mid-season managers since the start of the 2019/20 season, with four of the 13 new managers winning their first games in charge. However, if we change that to win or draw the percentage of managers getting a result is 61.54% and if we remove Watford, who make up four of the 13 changes in total with no victories, the win percentage comes out at a far healthier 44.44% – and 66.67% managed to avoid defeat.

That’s the numbers crunched, and there are some encouraging signs for all our new managers as they prepare for their first assignments. Of course, these stats don’t take into account the individuals or the situations they find themselves in so I’ve looked at their records as new bosses and assessed their chances too.

Steven Gerrard, Aston Villa

First game: vs Brighton

Steven Gerrard is gearing up for his second managerial role after a hugely successful stint in charge of Rangers in the Scottish Premiership. Gerrard won his first match in charge at Ibrox, a 2-0 Europa League qualifying win over Macedonia’s Shkupi, while his first domestic game at the helm was a 1-1 draw at Aberdeen.

This is Gerrard’s first managerial position in the Premier League but it is clearly still a league he knows well. The visit of Brighton on Saturday does look a real opportunity for him to begin his tenure with a result as the Seagulls are without a win in their last six league games. Albion have only lost one of those six matches though – and that defeat came against Manchester City – so actually getting the win could be a big ask for Gerrard as he seeks to end Villa’s five-game losing streak.

Eddie Howe, Newcastle

First game: vs Brentford

Eddie Howe has previously been in charge of Bournemouth (two spells) and Burnley, so far he has one win in three attempts as a new manager and none of those debuts have come in the Premier League. There is a real feel-good factor at St James’ Park right now after they became the world’s richest football club overnight, and the visit of Brentford looks a good chance for Howe to start off with a three-point haul.

The Magpies are the only Premier League side yet to record a win but Brentford have lost their last four, including a 2-1 loss at home to bottom club Norwich. Now may be the ideal time to face the Bees and Howe knows he needs to hit the ground running too after being tasked with turning Newcastle into genuine silverware contenders.

Dean Smith, Norwich City

First game: vs Southampton

Dean Smith has two wins and one defeat from his three managerial debuts so far, putting his win percentage at a healthy 66.67% in his first games in charge. Keeping Norwich up looks a huge ask for the former Walsall, Brentford and Villa boss though, but the Canaries did at least manage to claim their first win of the season against the Bees prior to the international break.

Southampton have hit form and have 10 points to show from the last 12 available so the only factor that really suggests Norwich can get a result here is the ‘new boss bounce’, although Smith does arrive with a point to prove after his Villa dismissal and we may well see some reaction from the Canaries players after Daniel Farke’s exit too.

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