June is Managers Month: The good, the bad and the ugly

June is Swindon Town managers month on The Washbag with a countdown of the good, the bad and the ugly in our dugout throughout the years.

After the departure of Paul Hart I knew I’d witnessed one of the most inept and lifeless managerial reigns at Swindon Town, however could Hart be considered our worst manager ever? Probably…but I set out nonetheless.

Probably the ugly...is Paul Hart the worst Swindon manager?

Since the end of April I’ve turned my attention to assessing the 30 permanent Swindon Town managers to rank them nos.1 to 30. The managers have been rated according to their Football League results (including Play-Offs), FA Cup and League Cup performances. The purpose of this post is to explain the rationale behind my assessment.

Instead of assessing managers according to their achievements or failures and my feelings towards them, that wouldn’t be entirely fair, I tried to look for a more objective approach and, big surprise,  turned to statistics. The aim would be to confirm or otherwise my initial thoughts about Paul Hart. Of course, the converse also applied, a search for the worst manager would reveal the most successful.

The first post with a story on the Swindon Town managers nos.28-30, i.e. the worst, will be on here later tomorrow and the remainder to follow throughout June.

Here’s how I’ve worked it all out:

Football League

League results are only counted since the election of the club to the Football League for the 1920/21 season.

Points are scored on the basis of 3 for a win and 1 for draw, even though 3 points for a win was only introduced in 1981. Play-Off match results are counted.

As the number of league games per season has fluctuated over the years, each manager is assessed on a points per game basis (P/G).

P/G of each season is then multiplied by a league multiplier. This is where I’ve introduced an element of subjectivity as I consider a point gained in the Premier League is more important to the club, in terms of our history as a whole, than a point in League Two. The principle was to limit the spread of the multiplier so that it remained possible to outscore a Premier League season P/G in the 4th tier.

  • League Two = x1
  • League One = x1.33
  • Championship = x1.66
  • Premier League = x2

The sum for each season is then divided by the total league games under their tenure. The rating is then multiplied by 100 to give a final score.

No bonuses are awarded for league position as this assessment purely takes into account each manager’s win, drawn and loss record.

An example:

  • 2011/12 – Paolo Di Canio secures 86 points in League Two from 46 games ((86 x 1)/46)*100 = 186.95 points
  • 2012/13 – Paolo Di Canio secures 76 points in league One from 48 games* ((76 x 1.33)/48)*100 = 210.6 points (* including playoff semi final defeat)
  • Total score = ((86+101.1)/94)*100 = 199 points

FA Cup

Each manager is only rated on the basis of the number of cup ties won, rather than matches won, drawn and lost.

Each cup round is assigned an importance multiplier, gradually increasing as the rounds progress. The post 1924/1925 FA Cup tie win ratings by round are:

  • 1st Round = x1
  • 2nd Round = x1.1
  • 3rd Round = x1.25
  • 4th Round = x1.45
  • 5th Round = x1.7
  • 6th Round = x2
  • Semi Final = x2.4
  • Final = x3

Prior to 1924/1925 the FA Cup was played over 6 ‘proper’ rounds and an equivalent weighting is used.

The sum of scores achieved for each season are then divided by the total cup ties played (x100) to provide an FA Cup score.

An example:

  • 2011/12 – Paolo Di Canio’s STFC are knocked out in the 4th Round = 3.35 points
  • 2012/13 – Paolo Di Canio’s STFC are knocked out in the 2nd Round = 1 point
  • Total score = (4.35 points / 6 ties) * 100 = 72.5 points

League Cup

An identical method to the FA Cup is used, however a different importance multiplier is used as there are less rounds and the competition is for League clubs only:

  • 1st Round = x1
  • 2nd Round = x1.25
  • 3rd Round = x1.45
  • 4th Round = x1.7
  • 5th Round = x2
  • Semi Final = x2.4
  • Final = x3

An example:

  • 2011/12 – Paolo Di Canio’s STFC are knocked out in the 2nd Round = 1 point
  • 2012/13 – Paolo Di Canio’s STFC are knocked out in the 3rd Round = 2.25 points
  • Total score = (3.25 points / 5 ties) * 100 = 65 points

Manager Score

The manager score is the sum of the League, FA Cup and League Cup totals.

An example:

  • Paolo Di Canio = 199 + 72.5 + 65 = 336.5 Points


The reason behind the choice of points per game for the league and cup score divided by total cup ties is that a manager could technically become the club’s greatest manager in a short period of time. What I am looking at here is how each manager performed over the entirety of their reign.

The drawback in using this method is it can distort the rankings as it equalizes performances so it doesn’t matter if you managed Swindon for 500 games or 15.

I decided to discount a method whereby points are accumulated as this wrongly emphasises longevity as the crucial factor to success.

However, the inclusion of cup success in this assessment does favour those managers who stayed around for long enough to compete in them.

This isn’t perfect, but was an interesting task finding out the results and hopefully start some debate!

All match statistics are from the excellent swindon-town-fc.co.uk


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