Starter for Ten

Cod Almighty | Article

by Richard Lord

30 January 2024

Rich Lord has looked at the first 10 results of each of Town's last 18 managers to discover if any of them delivered the phenomenon known as 'new manager bounce'.

If you measure a new manager's first five results against the final five of his predecessor, the 'new manager bounce' phenomenon is very real, according to this article written almost one year ago to the day.

It's hardly scientific, but fun all the same. In this glorious Age of Data, we at Cod Almighty have fed the hamster, popped it on the wheel, and powered up our own computer to find out if the new manager phenomenon has ever existed at Grimsby Town.

Because our hunch is, it hasn't.

We haven't used the same measures as because, to give you the honest answer, we did our digging independently then found that article later.

The parameters we set were simple. David Artell has, at the time of writing, had ten games in charge. So, we looked at the first ten games of our previous 18 permanent managers to see how it stacks up.

We didn't bother looking at the previous ten games before they took charge because they were often split between the previous manager and a caretaker manager, and in some cases (but almost exclusively to John Cockerill) the caretaker's spell was very agreeable.

Also, we ran out of time to get this published before Artell took charge of his eleventh game.

So, how do you define 'new manager bounce'? There's no official answer. 'Better than what came before' seems sound logic, but we don't have time to retrofit the narrative. 'Play-off form' seems just as reasonable. That's usually around 75 points, or roughly 1.6 points per game (ppg).

So that's what we're aiming for — managers that, on average, achieve 1.6+ ppg in their first ten league games in charge.

Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, rah, rah, rah

This first name might not go down too well, but neither should it necessarily be a surprise.

He came, he brought the new manager bounce, he screwed up, he ran away. Ian Holloway tops our 18-man table for achieving a heady 1.8 ppg across his first ten matches in charge of the Mariners, with five wins, three draws, and two defeats. Keep that up across an entire 46-game season and you're looking at 83 points — potentially enough for automatic promotion.

Runaway is also only one of three managers who achieved a positive goal difference (+4), which already gives you some indication of where this article is headed.

In second place — and the only other manager to win five of his first ten games — is Lennie Lawrence. His 1.6 ppg hits the benchmark head on. That's 75 points, in the play-offs, thank you very much, Robin. In a parallel universe where he didn't sign Menno Willems and pair him in central midfield with Danny Butterfield, Town did alright.

And that's it. No one else achieved our idea of new manager bounce. But since we did the research, let's take a look who delivered some small bobbles of joy.

Big names with mid-table starts

At 1.5 ppg, and just missing out on the play-offs, are Marcus 'Bingo' Bignot and Paul 'Small Burst' Hurst (solo). The duo also share the accolade of Best Goal Difference (+5) from their first ten games in charge.

A respectable 1.3 ppg, and an extrapolated 60 points — suggesting mid-table with an occasional flirt with the play-offs — was achieved by names such as Paul Groves, Brian Laws, Alan Buckley (mark II and III) and Russell Slade (both times).

Bouncing exclusion zone

Michael Jolley chips in with 1.2 ppg, or an extrapolated 55 points, which is a sort of lower mid-table in division four type of thing, a position we hope to finally climb out of this decade.

Graham Rodger and Kenny Swain achieved 1.1 ppg, which would get you 50 points and likely bring relegation from a league whose drop zone has at least three places.

Bounce deniers

If there's one thing David Artell shares with Buckley (mark I) it's the 0.9 ppg (41 points) he's earned in his first ten games in charge. Statistically, Sir Alan's is worse, due to a -10 goal difference against Artell's -7. Did you see that coming?

Remarkably, down in these dungeons, you'll find Rob Scott and Paul Hurst rubbing shoulders with Nicky Law on 0.8 ppg (37 points).

Slip a little further, where it gets really dark, and you'll bump into Mike Newell and Neil Woods. As people, they're poles apart, but down here they share 0.7 ppg (32 points) — with Woodsie the only manager of our 18 listed that failed to win a single game. He did draw seven, though.

Just when you think 'that must be that' there's one more — someone whose start was worse than everything we've just covered.

Step up Mr Paul Hurst!

With just one win, one draw and eight defeats following his reappointment on 30th December 2020, Hursty clocks in with a whopping 0.4 ppg (18 points) from his first ten games.

It's probably worth noting, for context, that he then lost just one of his next ten, including an eight-game unbeaten run. And, to give the guy credit, he also has the best overall win percentage of Town's last 18 managers at 44%.

That's across both spells, including the bit where he had to work alongside Shouty. And, that's still 5% ahead of the next best in the list, which belongs to Buckley (1988 – 1994).

In conclusion, then…

Only two of our previous 18 managerial appointments arrived at Blundell Park and hit the ground running. Interestingly, it was two so-called wise heads of the game that achieved it.

Congratulations Ian Holloway and Lennie Lawrence! You brought some new manager bounce to our beloved club. You also brought many other things that ultimately made us worse, but hey, you're not unique in that (sadly).

For Artell, well, he's at least won a couple of games, and he holds a position higher in our league table than Mike Newell and Nicky Law.

Admittedly, the bar is set very low, as it always seems to be at Grimsby Town.