Which League Two managers are most likely to choke when odds-on favourites?by Mike Holden / 01 December 2016, 11:10Tweet
In the first of a four-part series Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) uses profit/loss tables, dating back from August 2008, to identify which managers are most likely to choke when starting a match as the odds-on favourite, starting with League Two:
League Two players are, by definition, League Two players as a result of their inability to consistently produce their best football in all weathers and on all occasions - and it shows in the record of several League Two managers when their teams are chalked up at odds-on to win by the bookmakers.
No fewer than nine of the 12 managers in the red by this criteria have at least one promotion on their CV - by my reckoning, they have 13 Football League promotions between them - so this is evidently a mindset problem that comes with the territory, rather than a shortcoming on behalf of the managers themselves.
Mind you, Portsmouth fans might beg to differ. Promotion was supposed to be a formality once they had recruited Paul Cook - a title winner with Chesterfield three seasons ago - to manage such an expensively-assembled squad. But the Liverpudlian has struggled to cope with the demands, failing to win 18 matches where Pompey have been shorter than even money in the space of 16 months.
It happened again only last weekend, when the Hampshire club slipped to a 2-1 home defeat against Stevenage, a game in which captain Michael Doyle and defender Christian Burgess were both substituted for an altercation at half time. It only serves to illustrate the pressure that Pompey players feel amid such high expectations at Fratton Park.
The records of Steve Evans and Graham Westley illustrate how much of a problem it can be to keep players relaxed and focused on the job in hand at this level. Both managers are widely-respected as the two of the best motivators you will find but strip away the siege mentality (in Evans’ case) and the work on marginal gains (in Westley’s) and you’re left with just another two teams who come up short when told that victory should be a formality.
The same goes for John Sheridan. His stock has never been higher than it was in the summer having triggered two successful survival bids at Newport and Oldham last season but is now finding the going tough at Notts County, where he possesses a talented squad capable of pushing for promotion. The Magpies have triumphed only once in nine attempts at Meadow Lane this term.
All due credit must to Keith Curle, the standout manager when it comes to keeping players switched on against inferior opposition. His Carlisle side climbed to the top of the table last weekend with a handsome 5-2 victory against former club Mansfield, the seventh time this season (out of eight) that the Cumbrians have delivered at odds-on.
- Pld = the number of matches each manager has started with his team priced up at a best price of shorter than evens (digital odds 2.0).
- P/L = the overall profit/loss figure for each manager had you placed a £10 stake on each of those matches started as odds-on favourites.
- % = the percentage of profit/loss when divided by the overall stake for the number of games played.
- The tables include all matches played since the start of the 2008/09 season across the four English leagues, La Liga, the Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue U.