Which managerial appointment made the biggest impact in League One?

by Mike Holden / 17 May 2018, 11:09

Steve Lovell was the biggest difference-maker in League One, sparking an incredible turnaround at Gillingham that was so swift and effective it passed almost unnoticed in the end-of-season plaudits.

The Gills were second from bottom with just seven points from their first 12 matches when Lovell was appointed as permanent successor to Adrian Pennock last October, but the league table told only half the story.

The Kent club had cut costs last summer to fund an expensive court case with a former catering company and it was widely acknowledged they would struggle to avoid the drop with the squad they had cobbled together.

However, Lovell got in amongst them, bigged his players up through the media and got them all buying into the group dynamic. By the end of January, Gillingham had risen to 10th on the back of 10 wins in 18 matches and standards only began to slip back in early March, once it was apparent they wouldn't be caught by the bottom four.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Richie Wellens also boasted strong figures from a low base over similar timeframes but it wasn't enough to spare their respective clubs, Northampton and Oldham, from relegation.

Indeed, Hasselbaink sits second in this table but that basically stems from the fact that he couldn't fail on this metric because the Cobblers didn't have a single point when he took over from Justin Edinburgh.

Wellens made a remarkable impact at Oldham, picking up 18 points from the first nine matches compared to just four points from the previous nine under John Sheridan. But those standards soon tailed off and the Latics could only manage 28 points from their remaining 28 games, ultimately dropping into the basement for the first time since 1971.

Meanwhile, Southend fans are daring to dream again under the guidance of Chris Powell. Things had evidently gone stale at Roots Hall when they parted company with Phil Brown in January as the stars finally aligned to bring back a club legend. Nine wins from 18 matches would imply that a promotion push might be on the cards next season.

No prizes for guessing the worst dismissal of the season. Bradford were sixth when they sacked Stuart McCall in early February but Simon Grayson was unable to deal with the unsettling effect it had on a limited squad, winning just one of his first nine games in charge before opting to move on at the end of the season.

Premier League Manager Impacts

Championship Manager Impacts

League Two Manager Impacts

What is PPG?

The PPG differential is a way comparing club's performance before and after the appointment of a manager based on points-per-game averages. From this, we might conclude that the bigger the differential for each manager, the more valid his appointment was - although sample sizes obviously have to be taken into account. The more games measured before the appointment and the more games measured after, the more reliable the result.

The impact of League One managerial appointments during the 2017/18 season

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