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The Manager of the Month curse: Fact or fiction?

9 November 2021

Although the Sky Bet Manager of the Month is a symbol of recognition for a coach’s hard work and dedication over the course of a month-long period and a reward for all of that labour, for some, the honour can be somewhat of a jinx, or so we’ve heard.

With two down and the October nominees imminent, analysing data from the 2021/22 season, can we debunk the myth or prove the truth?

The winners

Fulham boss Marco Silva, Sunderland manager Lee Johnson and Forest Green Rovers head coach Rob Edwards formed the line-up for the Sky Bet Championship, Sky Bet League One and Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month for August in the first round of monthly awards. Meanwhile, Bournemouth’s Scott Parker, Milton Keynes Dons’ Liam Manning and Port Vale’s Darrell Clarke scooped the accolades for September.

The hangover defeat

Fulham’s shock defeat to Blackpool at the beginning of September epitomised the theory. Josh Bowler’s strike was the difference, as Championship Manager of the Month for August Marco Silva’s side went down to a slender 1-0 midweek loss to the Tangerines, bringing about the end of the then-League leaders’ five-game unbeaten streak in what might be termed the hangover defeat. 


Similarly, high-flying MK Dons, who entered the month of October level with second-placed Wigan Athletic and three points behind table toppers Sunderland, experienced a dip in form, slipping to back-to-back defeats to Doncaster Rovers and – after Liam Manning was crowned the League One Manager of the Month for September – Shrewsbury Town.

Port Vale, meanwhile, started the month on the front foot, as Darrell Clarke’s men overcame Leyton Orient. A three-minute turnaround securing maximum points for the Valiants, who were trailing 2-1 heading into the dying moments of the game, before striking twice in injury time to complete a stirring fightback.                                           

However, they were on the wrong side of a seven-goal thriller with Sutton United the following weekend, a day after Clarke was named the League Two Manager of the Month for September – hence, the curse of the gong and a preference to fly under the radar, as it were, by many teams.

The stats

Teams with a winning manager averaged just upwards of two points per game in the month following the win, down from an average 2.4 points per game in the month prior to the accolade, suggesting there is a downward trend, but whether that’s down to circumstantial factors, forces working against them or the mental aftereffects of winning the award, is down to the individual team and/or manager.

The Dons saw the greatest spiral, dropping four places from third position, at the beginning of October, to seventh place by the end of the month. Elsewhere, Fulham also slipped to third by the end of September, having occupied the top spot at the beginning of the month, when Silva was awarded the monthly prize.

Sunderland and Forest Green held onto the coveted top spot in League One and League Two respectively, whilst Bournemouth climbed up to the summit of the Championship standings from second place, and Vale also jumped up two places from fourth to second.

The bounce-back victory

One thing was congruous among the recipient teams was the big post-accolade win, which usually comes towards the end of the following month, if the proof in the pudding is anything to go by.

Read into it what you will but each of the six winners over the course of August and September scored four or more goals in a thumping victory the month after scooping the award.

For Fulham, the win came against Birmingham City just four days after the Cottagers were bested by Blackpool. Silva’s side ran out 4-1 winners, only conceding a Troy Deeney penalty-kick in the final minutes of the game, to re-assert their status after their undefeated start to the season was shattered in the same week.

Meanwhile, Sunderland vanquished Cheltenham Town 5-0 to finish September on a high note, and Forest Green Rovers saw off League Two strugglers Stevenage 4-0, as the Black Cats extended their lead at the top of League One to three points by the end of the month, whilst Forest Green sat four points clear at the summit by the close of September.

More recently, both MK Dons and Port Vale registered identical 4-1 score-lines in their favour against Crewe Alexandra and Crawley Town last time out at the weekend. 


The anomalies 

Of course, the logic can’t be applied to every team. As always, there are likely to be teams and results that stray from what’s expected, and anomalies to the pattern; Bournemouth’s unstoppable vein of form being one. The Cherries were the only team who preserved a 100% record in the month following Scott Parker receiving the award, scoring 10 goals and conceding just the one against Sheffield United.

By and large, the season will tell whether the curse of the Manager of the Month persists, but the so-called hex has already found a handful of teams wanting, tripping up the likes of Fulham and MK Dons, and it can be agreed that the real challenge comes after receiving the honour.

  Award Manager (Club) Form guide
August Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month Marco Silva (Fulham)



  Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month Lee Johnson (Sunderland)



  Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month Rob Edwards (Forest Green Rovers)



September Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month Scott Parker (Bournemouth)



  Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month Liam Manning (MK Dons)



  Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month Darrell Clarke (Port Vale)




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