In light of the shocking dismissal of Gary Megson from Wednesday we are reposting this fantastic piece by Liam McConville that originally appeared in the Cutter in late January.

It’s the time of the year when chairmen of the twenty Premier League clubs start to get very twitchy fingers. The January transfer window will soon slam shut meaning that only a change of management can save their club’s season. But does the sacking culture actually reap rewards?

A new man with fresh ideas can rejuvenate a club bringing an immediate improvement in results and bringing the supporters back on side. This appears to be the case at Sunderland; the unpopular Steve Bruce was perhaps harshly dismissed after a poor start to the season and replaced by the overwhelming fans’ favourite, Martin O’Neill. The doom and gloom that had engulfed Wearside was replaced by a joyous eruption through the Stadium of Light as the Black Cats came from behind to beat Blackburn 2-1.

O’Neill is widely regarded as a master motivator and has an excellent track record at every club he has managed. The charismatic Irishman gave promising youngster James McClean an opportunity as well as instilling new belief into players that were left feeling uninspired following the previous regime. This instant impact which has wielded thirteen points from O’Neill’s first seven games in charge will surely have delighted both fans and board alike.

However it is perhaps a little premature to declare Sunderland’s ruthless change of management a success. It is perhaps instead the traditional short term improvement in results that is often the case when a new boss arrives. However this rarely leads to a new dawning for clubs and within six months the same problems tend to return.

The King’s popularity is never in question but the growing frustration at Anfield cannot be ignored.

Take for example two sackings from last season that were deemed a success. Roy Hodgson had endured a fairly dismal time during a period of unprecedented upheaval at Liverpool. The Kop were never truly behind Hodgson and the clamour for club legend Kenny Dalglish was too much for the board to ignore. The King returned to Anfield with the club lying a lowly twelfth in the table and handled a chaotic January with dignity and class. Results soon returned to the expected levels as Liverpool recovered to finish sixth to bring respectability back to a season which had at one point left the Reds floundering in the relegation zone.

Waves of optimism flooded through the club and talk of winning the illusive nineteenth was fuelled by a summer of lavish spending. However reality has well and truly bitten for Liverpool this season; the club is sixth again and the minimum aim of returning to the Champions League looks perhaps beyond the club as numerous draws at home to lesser opposition have hurt the Anfield outfit. Several major signings have failed to perform in particular Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing. The King’s popularity is never in question but the growing frustration at Anfield cannot be ignored.

Hodgson was again involved in last season’s other sacking success story. West Bromwich Albion were sinking after a promising start under Roberto Di Matteo, the club reacted without mercy. Di Matteo was disposed of and the club turned to Hodgson perhaps taking heart from the way that the veteran Englishmen saved Fulham in 2008. The Baggies recovered from a potentially precarious position to finish comfortably in eleventh, nine points clear of the drop.

However this season, the club are still very much trying to establish themselves in the top flight and are currently treading water in fifteenth. Hodgson has led WBA to an almost identical position as last year and the now Chelsea assistant manager Di Matteo will be entitled to feel hard done by.

Dowie was a disaster with only one win from nine games in charge.

The demand for results has led to an incredible chop change culture which is surely detrimental to long term success. Such is the level of money that flows throughout England’s top flight that relegation is a truly unthinkable prospect for many clubs. This was shown in the 2009/2010 season where Hull City faced serious threat to their Premier League status.

Hull stuck by Phil Brown until March where they made the peculiar decision to remove Brown and replace him with a short term replacement, Iain Dowie. Dowie was a disaster with only one win from nine games in charge, whether Hull would have stayed up under Brown is impossible to say but they would have surely put up more of a fight.

This brings me to this season and QPR’s decision to sack the man who brought them back to the big time. Neil Warnock will no doubt feel unlucky (and the bitterest man in the world will no doubt share his grievances with us) but QPR were on an alarming slide and relegation is not an option for the ambitious West London club. The appointment of Mark Hughes looks a good one but whether the Welshman can save QPR and then build upon it remains to be seen.

Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic are also facing under immense pressure with relegation looming.  Particularly in the case of Blackburn and Bolton relegation may well lead to financial meltdown. So far all have stuck by their managers but as the season dwindles away don’t be surprised to see managerial departures followed by short term fixes.

Sacking mid-season can work out both short-term and long-term, but this is very rare. Results may improve initially but soon enough clubs are right back where they started only with a big compensation payout. So chairmen beware and whatever you do if you really want to stay up, don’t hire Dowie.