John Hughes takes charge of an Inverness Caledonian Thistle game for the first time tomorrow when they travel to St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership.
Both manager and supporters will be looking for a winning start to consolidate their second place position and pacify the fear that the team will slip down the table without Terry Butcher leading the squad. However, if Hughes were to win his first competitive game in charge then he’d be bucking the trend with regards to the rest of the managers in the division.
Only three of the other eleven top flight managers made winning starts in their current positions, making a mockery of the old cliché that football teams enjoy a “bounce” when a new boss walks through the door. Going back to when Neil Lennon took over at Celtic, here is how each and every one of them fared.
23 Jul 2011, Ross County 1 – 2 Elgin City
County would storm to the First Division title in a 2011/12 season that included a run of nine consecutive wins between late September and early December. The support could not have envisioned such domination after they crashed out of the Challenge Cup at the first round stage to a part-time side two levels below them. In Adams first game back after rejoining the club at the end of the previous season, his side were deservedly beaten by the tenacious visitors, who even had to come from a goal down to collect the win. Things got a lot better for County from that point on. It was one of only two SFL defeats they would suffer all season.
16 Feb 2013, Greenock Morton 2 – 2 Partick Thistle
Back-to-back postponements meant Archibald was given a real baptism of fire in his first match in charge following Jackie McNamara’s desertion to Dundee United; travelling to league leaders Morton for a top of the table clash. Chris Erskine and Steven Craig gave them a 2-0 half-time lead and even though Morton would fight back to earn a draw there was enough to persuade the Thistle board to be patient over appointing a successor. With Archibald in charge the team then won eight consecutive league games on their way to the title. He was given the job permanently five games into that run.
23 Nov 2013, St Mirren 0 – 0 Hibernian
The difficulty of restoring Hibs to one of Scotland’s front runners soon became evident for the new manager with this dull 0-0 draw in Love Street. The visitors battled hard and minimised the hosts to a couple of chances, but rarely created anything of note themselves. Still, Butcher was able to take the positives out of the performance and recorded back-to-back clean sheets with the win over Ross County last weekend.
14 Aug 2010, St Mirren 1 – 1 Dundee United
Having moved up the leagues from Cowdenbeath, the new St Mirren manager was moments away from claiming a win before Jon Daly rescued a point for the visitors. Sean Lynch had previously given the hosts the lead. The midfielder was just one of a number of summer recruits as Lennon tried to overhaul the underachieving side left behind by Gus McPherson. Unfortunately it wouldn’t stop them from slumping to an 11th place finish that season.
27 Mar 2010, Celtic 3 – 1 Kilmarnock
The home players regrouped well following the 4-0 midweek defeat at St Mirren and the sacking of former boss Tony Mowbray. Lennon had been brought in earlier in the season as reserve team coach and he was promoted to the manager’s role on an interim basis. Robbie Keane fired Celtic into a 2-0 before Scott Brown made the points safe. Despite his inexperience, Lennon would go on to win every single one of his eight league games in charge between then and the end of the season, enough to convince the Celtic Park board that he was the man for the job.
2 Mar 2013, Hearts 1 – 2 Motherwell
Brought in on an initial interim basis, Locke couldn’t stop Hearts from losing their fifth consecutive match after falling two goals behind in the first eight minutes. However, there was enough promise about the second 45 minutes where John Sutton headed Hearts back into the match, and the 2-0 win over St Johnstone a few days later, to convince the Tynecastle board to hand him the position on a full-time basis. His first match in permanent charge was the 3-2 League Cup Final defeat to St Mirren.
3 Aug 2013, Aberdeen 2 – 1 Kilmarnock
A narrow defeat away to an Aberdeen side highly tipped to finish second was by no means a terrible start for Johnston in his first match. Unfortunately it started a run of 10 consecutive games without a win for Kilmarnock, not exactly what the new boss had in mind when he left Queen of the South to take the vacant role during the summer. They got their first win in October but overall things have seldom improved.
1 Jan 2011, Hamilton Academicals 0 – 0 Motherwell
Motherwell lost three successive games after Craig Brown departed for Aberdeen so despite this being a listless draw there were still plenty of positives to take out of it. McCall was given the job despite struggling to improve Bradford City’s fortunes during a three-year spell with his former club, and the Fir Park crowd would have major reservations about the appointment after the team won only once in his first seven games. However, they would improve before the end of the campaign to sneak into the top six before finishing third the following year.
22 Apr 2013, Hibernian 0 – 0 Aberdeen
The former St Johnstone manager had actually been announced as the successor to Craig Brown and Archie Knox almost four weeks prior, but it was decided that the duo would remain in charge for the final two games before the split. Aberdeen remained tight but created almost nothing in attack in what was an incredibly dull draw. They would win only one of their first five under the new boss, scoring a paltry three goals, before things began to take off at the beginning of the current campaign.
2 Feb 2013, Dundee United 3 – 0 Rangers
Johnny Russell gave McNamara the best possible start to life at Tannadice when he opened the scoring in the first minute of this fifth round Scottish Cup tie. Jon Daly soon doubled the advantage and United’s passage to the quarter-finals was sealed when Russell stuck again. There wasn’t much improvement in their league form between his hiring and the end of the season, but they did advance to the semi-final to face Celtic before being edged out in a seven-goal thriller.
18 Jul 2013, Rosenborg 0 – 1 St Johnstone
One of the biggest upsets in Europe perpetrated by a Scottish club in the last 10 ten years - not bad for your first day at the office. Nobody gave the visitors a chance of progressing to the next round, let alone getting a victory away to the 22 time Norwegian champions, but a Fraser Wright header along with some resolute defending did just that. Their passage was sealed with an equally hard fought 1-1 draw in the return leg in Perth. Wright has since continued on the good work from his predecessor, Steve Lomas, whom he worked under as assistant manager.