Where does each manager rank in the Championship's dirtiest gaffer guide

by Mike Holden / 11 November 2016, 11:14

In the third instalment of a four-part series Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) delves into the Championship - using records dating back from the start of the 2008/09 campaign - to identify who the division's 'dirtiest' manager is, based on the difference between fouls conceded and suffered per game.

Premier League Edition | League One Edition | League Two Edition

There’s nothing too shocking about the name of Alex Neil at the top of any chart measuring foul data. The Norwich boss meets all the stereotypes of the combative, confrontational Scottish manager and most observers would expect his record of committing 1.89 fouls more than the opposition to hold over a much bigger sample than 76 games.

However, you probably don’t expect Kenny Jackett to be next on the list with an extra 1.48 fouls per game. It just goes to show, there’s much more to the former Wolves boss than that 'friendly uncle' persona and Rotherham fans can, at the very least, expect their players to get stuck in a bit more than they were doing previously under Alan Stubbs.

As for Wolves, they now have Paul Lambert in charge and though his success at Molineux will no doubt be judged on his ability to inspire the team to greater achievements in the attacking third, his record in this regard suggests the Old Gold will continue to be competitive in the middle third and do the dirty stuff well.

Simon Grayson is next on the list in fourth and his Preston side are currently committing the largest excess of fouls of any team in Championship, their 2.94 per game surplus over the first 16 matches is high even by Grayson’s usual standards. Last season, North End, as a newly-promoted side, were pushing the boundaries only slightly at an extra 0.58 fouls per game.

Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy would surely be proud to see his name in the top five. The big Yorkshireman is uncompromising in the extreme, so much so that he has refused to budge on his approach during the course of this season, despite a run of five games without a goal in September and October. Do the ugly side even better and the goals will come - that appears to be the motto.

The name of Nigel Clough at the bottom of the list is a surprise insomuch that his teams usually compensate for any lack of quality by being more competitive than the opposition. But then you look at his impressive record of conceding 2.12 free kicks fewer than the opposition in the context of his father’s managerial principles and we probably shouldn’t be so surprised.

For Gary Rowett, fouls are probably viewed as a consequence of poor positioning and there’s nothing intuitively wrong about him boasting the second-cleanest record in this category. His Birmingham side like to play on the counter and allow the opposition to dominate possession, with interceptions more frequent than tackles, so they rarely allow themselves to become stretched.

The dirtiest manager in the Championship


  • Tables show the number of matches played (Pld), the average number of fouls committed (FC) and suffered (FS) per game, then ordered by the overall difference (Diff).
  • The numbers are generated from the start of the 2008/09 season up to the present day, using data from across the four English leagues, plus La Liga, the Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue Un.
  • Manual adjustments have been made for managerial tenures outside the UK, in accordance with the average frequency that referees blow up for an offence in those respective leagues.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Richie Wellens
(Oldham Athletic)
8th June

Doncaster Rovers

Next Manager Odds


Next Manager Odds

Leicester City

Next Manager Odds


Next Manager Odds


Next Manager Odds

Newcastle United

Next Manager Odds

Rep of Ireland

Next Manager Odds

Football Blogging Awards Winner 2016
int(1529803691) int(1529805347)
50/1 Kane to score (New customer offer, T&C, 18+)
50/1 Kane to score (New customer offer, T&C, 18+)