Sacking managers in the Premier League relegation run-in: How often does it work?

Can a late-season managerial change save you from Premier League relegation? Perhaps the 'new manager bounce' isn't as effective as many chairmen think it is.

Burnley appear to have taken a desperate risk in replacing Sean Dyche with just eight games remaining in their fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League. 

Teams who are struggling sacking managers is nothing uncommon, of course, but relegation-threatened teams doing it this late in the season is probably not as common as you think.

We take a look at the occasions it has happened this century to see how likely it is to save Burnley's skin.

When it didn't work

West Ham 2002/03 - Trevor Brooking

The first team in the 21st century to try it were West Ham. It was not through choice and they were incredibly unlucky in the end.

Trevor Brooking West Ham manager

When Glenn Roeder had a minor-stroke with just three games left of the season, the Hammers found themselves in the relegation zone and in serious trouble. They were able to persuade West Ham legend Trevor Brooking to swap the TV studio for the dug-out, although the task looked a daunting one.

Brooking beat both Manchester City and Chelsea before getting a point away at Birmingham on the final day. It should have been enough, as it took them to 42 points. It wasn't, though, and they went down with the highest points total in Premier League history.

Newcastle 2008/09 - Alan Shearer

Newcastle attempted to copy the West Ham blueprint a few years later, when they turned to Alan Shearer to save their bacon.

Alan Shearer Newcastle manager

The Magpies started the season with Kevin Keegan in charge and appointed Joe Kinnear when he quit in September. Kinnear required heart surgery a few months later, leaving Chris Hughton in temporary charge. It wasn't going well though.

In March and with Newcastle in the bottom three, Mike Ashley turned to Shearer. Eight games and one win later, they were relegated. To make it even more annoying for Newcastle fans, Sunderland stayed up.

Hull 2009/10 - Iain Dowie

Hull were one of the teams to benefit from Newcastle's failed attempt to save themselves a year earlier, and they had hoped to build on that under Phil Brown. It never happened, though. In mid-March and with Hull second bottom, Brown was kicked out.

Iain Dowie Hull manager

That decision came, ironically, after a fine battling performance away at Arsenal in which the ten-man Tigers conceded an injury time winner. While Hull fans were hoping for a fresh face to come in, what they got was Iain Dowie's instead.

Dowie did mange to provide one win in his nine games in charge, but that was well short of what was needed and Hull slid back into the Championship with barely a whimper.

Reading 2012/13 - Nigel Adkins

Brian McDermott was the Premier League manager of the month in January. By mid-March, he was sacked. In fairness, he could have few complaints. The Royals were seven points adrift of safety.

Nigel Adkins Reading manager

The impossibly nice Nigel Adkins was the man Reading appointed to take over, but it turned out to be as hopeless a cause as it looked.

Adkins couldn't make a dent in that seven-point deficit. In fact he only won five points in his nine games in charge.

Norwich 2013/14 - Neil Adams

When Norwich headed into the 2013/14 season, they did so with some real optimism. Chris Hughton had guided them to 11th place the previous season and they had spent relatively heavily in the summer to strengthen the side.

Neil Adams Norwich manager

Things weren't too bad, though. With five games remaining, Norwich were five points clear of the relegation zone. However, that wasn't enough to save Hughton.

In an even more weird display of out-of-character arrogance, Norwich seemed to believe a rookie caretake manager parachuted in from their under-18s could keep them up. Neil Adams was that man, and Norwich went down.

Newcastle 2015/16 - Rafa Benitez

Given that a refusal to spend money was the greatest complaint Newcastle fans had about Mike Ashley, it is perhaps ironic that the season he did invest ended in relegation.

Rafa Benitez Newcastle manager

The Magpies had spent around £80million on new players the previous summer but Steve McClaren was making a right hash of actually managing them. With ten games to go, he was sacked.

The situation was far from hopeless, though. Newcastle were second bottom but just a point behind Sunderland in 17th. Ashley spent again, giving Rafa Benitez a huge contract to attract him to the club.

Benitez had what looked like a pretty kind fixture list too with games against every other team in the bottom four still to come. He was not able to get the job done, though, with Sunderland once again staying up at their expense.

Watford 2019/20 - Hayden Mullins

Watford have a bit of a reputation for sacking managers, and this one was one of the strangest of the lot.

Hayden Mullins Watford manager

With just two games to go, Nigel Pearson, who had only been appointed in December, had the Hornets three points above the relegation zone. He was sacked. That came after a 3-1 defeat at West Ham, but that directly preceded by back-to-back wins.

Under-23s coach Hayden Mullins was appointed to take charge of the final two matches and they lost them both, leading to relegation on the final day.

When it worked

Sunderland 2012/13 - Paolo Di Canio

When Paolo Di Canio breezed into Sunderland with seven games remaining in the 2012/13 season, it's fair to say that no one really knew what was going to happen. The Italian had enjoyed some success in League Two with Swindon, but his confrontational manner always looked unlikely to work with Premier League players, particularly ones with fragile confidence sitting just a point above the relegation zone.

Paolo Di Canio Sunderland manager

Still, the Italian got an immediate reaction from his players. He won his second game in charge at home to Everton, then took Sunderland to rivals Newcastle and thrashed them 3-0.

They were to be no more wins, but they had done what was needed and Sunderland stayed up. However, Wigan's FA Cup run had caused them a serious fixture pile-up, and many believe that had fatigue not cost them it would have been the Black Cats, not them, who stayed up instead.

Sunderland 2014/15 - Dick Advocaat

Two years later, and with arguably the greatest escape in Premier League history in 2014 between, Sunderland were at it again.

Dick Advocaat Sunderland manager

The Black Cats were looking to repeat the trick by sacking their manager mid-March while they sat just outside the relegation zone. This time it was Gus Poyet, who had replaced Di Canio, who was out and grizzled Dutch veteran taskmaster Dick Advocaat who was in.

Advocaat was a bit of a masterstroke. He won three, drew three and lost three of his nine games and Sunderland stayed up with a game to spare. In a strange mirroring of the Di Canio season, wins against Everton and Newcastle were vital in the Black Cats survival.

Southampton 2017/18 - Mark Hughes

A run of just one win in the 2017/18 season left Southampton just a point above the relegation zone and Mauricio Pellegrino out of a job. Mark Hughes was the man the Saints board looked to, giving him eight games to ensure they remained in the Premier League.

Mark Hughes Southampton manager

It didn't look like that was going to happen when he lost his first four matches in charge, but Hughes was able to turn that form around after that.

The key result came in the penultimate game of the season away at fellow-strugglers Swansea. Southampton won it 1-0 thanks to a second-half Manolo Gabbiadini strike, and those three points ultimately decided who stayed up and who went down.

READ MORE: 'Can of lager, chicken and a fishing rod': Paul Gascoigne's most iconic off-field moments

Latest news