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The Championship has been described as the hardest, the toughest and the most competitive league to compete in.
Whilst the Premier League has evened up in the last seven years, the Championship has over a dozen clubs each year who legitimately believe in their chances of promotion.
This had led to a merry-go-round of managers in England’s second tier because the rewards are so lucrative and a change in management can lead to a change in fortunes.
More and more, we are seeing hugely experienced managers go to the Championship and it can currently boast a European Champion and former-Real Madrid manager, as well as an ex-England boss. This has all been possible by more publicity and crucially, more money.
The latest TV deal is supposedly worth more than double to Championship clubs from the previous payout, going from £2.3 million to £5 million per season.
Funds provided by the Premier League to clubs relegated to the Football League Championship are now received over two years.
Following relegation in year one, the club receives 55% of the equal share of broadcast revenue paid to Premier League clubs and in year two, 45% of the equal share of broadcast revenue paid to Premier League clubs.
In two seasons following relegation, a club should expect to receive approximately £65 million from the Premier League.
The enormous pay-outs by the Premier League means these relegated clubs return with more money – not least from the money received in their time from the top flight – and are able to compete more aggressively in the transfer market and on wages.
In August 2015, it was reported that Derby County – eight years a Championship club with strong ambitions of promotion – had a wage and salary bill of £14.5 million.
Recently relegated QPR had a bill of £66.4 million, whilst Fulham’s total was £60.4 million.
It’s created a division filled with ex-Premier League sides hoping to get back to the promised land, making it fiercely competitive.
Selecting the right manager
Of the three managers who were promoted to the Premier League in 2015/16, two – Sean Dyche and Steve Bruce – had taken their team to promotion before.
To gain success, teams are bringing in managers successful at gaining promotion.
In this season’s Championship, there are 15 managers who have earned a promotion in their managerial past, as seen below;
At the very top is Neil ‘Colin’ Warnock, having led seven promotion charges, including one into the Premier League.
There are two managers on the list with no promotions: Steve McClaren, though he has two trophies to his name – including a Dutch league title – and nine years of top flight experience, as well as Carlos Carvahal, who has won the Portuguese League Cup.
Top flight experience is very relevant here. If you employ a manager who has spent a lot of time in the top flight, it surely brings high standards, high expectations and more specifically that the manager might be able to put your team back there.
Rafa Benitez represents a good example of this, even if he was employed whilst Newcastle were still a Premier League club.
Seven Championship managers are missing from the table above as they have neither a promotion or trophy on their managerial C.V. Dean Smith has been at Brentford for 12 months after a spell at Walsall, Lee Johnson took over at Bristol City in February after stints at Oldham and Barnsley, whilst Wigan’s newly appointed Warren Joyce has experience abroad but no success yet.
Going for the roll of the dice
The other four managers; David Wagner (Huddersfield), Jaap Stam (Reading), Garry Monk (Leeds) and Gary Rowett (Birmingham) are currently in charge of clubs occupying positions 3, 4, 6 and 7 in the league table.
Despite the lack of experience amongst this group, it means they are currently the young upstarts and football always has young upstarts.
Jaap Stam and Garry Monk are two managers who certainly pose as wildcards, given they have no promotions but have never managed in a lower league to go for one either.
Stam is in his first managerial role, whilst Monk had almost two years at Premier League Swansea.
Last season, there were 15 managerial changes across the division. In 2014/15, there were 19 changes. Those included Brian McDermott, Nigel Adkins, Ian Holloway, Malky Mackay, Mark Warburton and Steve Evans – another list of managers with trophies and promotion experience.
With so much at stake in modern football, lots of clubs – at all levels – prefer to roll the dice.
There appears to be plenty to go around who have seen and done it, many of whom have been job-swapping for some time now.
There is potentially a danger that young managers won’t get their chance as they pose too much of a risk.
Eddie Howe and Brendan Rodgers are good examples of trust being rightly placed in a good young boss however and an average age of 49 across the league – including two 35-year-olds – is three years younger than the average managerial age in the Premier League.
The younger generation seem to deliver
Opting for a young boss does appear to be an exception the rule, though.
With 36 promotions, 31 trophies and 62 years of top-flight experience from the bosses currently in the league but just three promotions spots up for grabs, regardless of the enormous know-how, it won’t last for all or even half of them this season.
There’s no doubt it’s become a division for the specialist though.
Written by Richard Clark
Follow Richard on Twitter @richardtheclark
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