Which Premier League manager tops the underdog table?

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 22 November 2016, 09:55

Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) focuses his analytical eye on the Premier League in the fourth and final piece on managerial underdogs.

The graphic below shows the number of games in which each manager has started a game with his team priced up at 2/1 or bigger, followed by the profit/loss figure had you stuck £10 on every one of those matches and the overall percentage return.

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Slaven Bilic tops the underdog table in the Premier League, thanks to his sensational start as West Ham manager last season. The former Besiktas boss landed odds of 16/1 with victory at Arsenal on the opening day and followed up with other shock away wins at Liverpool (9/1) and Manchester City (11/1) to crown a remarkable first six weeks at Upton Park.

Those three triumphs (worth ¤360) account for the lion’s share of Bilic’s total profits but the Croat would still be in clover based on his efforts over 21 subsequent matches in which the Hammers have started at odds of 2/1 or bigger. It’s not a huge sample but those initial flashes of brilliance were too remarkable to be glossed over.

For sheer longevity, though, Mark Hughes and Alan Pardew boast arguably the better records. The Stoke manager and his Crystal Palace counterpart can both claim profits of around 20 per cent from 140+ matches - virtually all of them in the top flight - in which their team have been clear outsiders.

Indeed, Hughes’ numbers would be even better if our data set stretched back to his time in charge of Blackburn. In four years at Ewood Park, the Welshman masterminded victories over Manchester United (twice), Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, back in the days when those four clubs had Champions League qualification places boxed off.

In his first three seasons at the Bet365 Stadium, the Potters have beaten Arsenal (twice), Chelsea (twice), Liverpool, Manchester City (twice), Manchester United (twice) and Tottenham (three times), meaning anyone who had backed Stoke to level stakes against those six teams since August 2013 would have virtually doubled their money across 39 bets.

Pardew has consistently turned a profit over the past six years, not so much with the level of wow factor demonstrated by Bilic and Hughes but largely through his ability to grind out more than his fair share of away wins against mid-ranking opposition. Claude Puel and Jurgen Klopp also deserve mention as the only other two managers to top the £200 profit marker.

The striking thing about the Premier League list is how few managers show a loss when starting as underdogs, and how scant those losses are. Nonetheless, Mauricio Pochettino sits bottom of the pile from a hefty sample of 124 matches, although it’s worth pointing out all of those losses were accrued during his time in La Liga with Espanyol.

Over four years with Southampton and Tottenham, he has actually posted profits of £107.80, which would put him ninth in this table, ahead of stalwarts Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger.

Premier League Underdog

Notes

  • Pld = the number of matches each manager has started with his team priced up at a best price of greater than 2/1 (digital odds 3.0).
  • P/L = the overall profit/loss figure for each manager had you placed a lb10 stake on each of those matches started as underdogs.
  • % = 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 Un.
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