Managers often lose their jobs
Over the course of the Premier League season as well as the lower leagues many unfortunate managers will lose their jobs. It may be a poor run of results, bigger ambitions for the owners or even the manager’s decision, but it’s an inevitable occurrence that happens every season.
Once a football manager loses his job a market quickly opens up on Betfair for betting on his successor. The market is usually full of potential names, some expected and some quite unexpected. What’s common is the list is usually led by the biggest managers out of work at the time, or even some who still have a job. The odds are quite often influenced by media stories and unsupported rumours, so how do you decide who to bet on in a market like this?
Always back the caretaker manager
We have a classic example at the time of writing. Aston Villa manger Martin O’Neill’s shock departure from the club a couple of weeks ago set off a “next manager” betting market on Betfair. The list has 77 names on it, of which bettors have to decide on one. That’s a very difficult task. A normal football match has three outcomes, so picking the correct result out of 77 is pretty much impossible in betting terms.
The current favourite in the next manager market is caretaker manger Kevin MacDonald. His odds have shortened from a massive 50.0 to 2.68 over the course of a couple of weeks. Smart bettors out there would have backed MacDonald at 50.0 when the market opened. There is always a big trend this type of market tends to take. A short priced big named manager that leads the market at the start loses out to the caretaker who was way down the list when the market opened. Neil Lennon (Celtic), Chris Hughton (Newcastle) and Brian McDermott (Reading) were all caretaker managers before they took over the helm. It has happened many times in the past as well. One of the biggest was Diego Maradona who was around 130.0 when he took over manager of Argentina!
Why the caretaker?
There are obvious reasons for the club to appoint the caretaker manager. It’s cheaper than signing a big name manager, who may also need to be prised away from his current club. The caretaker manager will already be familiar with the club, and the player’s morale would be kept as stable as possible.
United States manager Bob Bradley was at one point the favourite for the Villa job. This was fuelled by endless media rumours and stories on the web as well as the fact that he is American, however he has now been ruled out by both Villa’s American owner Randy Lerner, who wants a manager with Premier League experience, and Bradley who has now signed an extension to his United States contract.
Don’t back the favourite
That example shows how a runaway favourite is far from certain in the next manager market. You will always get the big names on the list as well. Sven Goran Eriksson who is currently out of work is second favourite in the market at the moment purely due to the fact that he is not currently working. There haven’t been any hints that he wants the job or even that Villa want him in the job. His position on the list is due to speculation alone.
As we can see, the next manager market is very volatile and in the past many big name favourites have not made the job. This makes it an excellent choice for layers on Betfair. It’s helpful is the manager leaves rather than is sacked because it leaves some time before the next manager is appointed. In an unexpected situation like this the owners are unlikely to have anyone lined up, so the market has time to shift around a lot.
Playing the market
A market that shifts around a lot also opens up the opportunity for trading on Betfair. If you managed to back a manager at high odds when the market opened and the odds have since shortened considerably you can then lay the current odds and providing the liability isn’t more than your potential winnings on your “back” bet, you now have a no-lose bet. You win if the manager is appointed and if he isn’t.
Sometimes if you don’t mind taking the risk you can also just lay the low priced favourites that are only there due to speculation.
The Villa situation hasn’t resolved itself yet at time of writing, but Kevin MacDonald is number one favourite. Even if he doesn’t get the job those who backed him from the start can lay his now low price and make a guaranteed profit.
In summary, when a next manager betting market opens up always put a few quid on the caretaker to become the next boss.