Tuesday 21 November 2017

New candidates line up in Premier League sack race

Jose Mourinho is under pressure at struggling Chelsea
Jose Mourinho is under pressure at struggling Chelsea
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

The Premier League makes a welcome return this weekend and with two managerial departures already confirmed in this most unpredictable of seasons, the pressure is mounting on a handful of under-fire tacticians.

Liverpool’s move to sack Brendan Rodgers and the decision of Dick Advocaat to walk away from his post as Sunderland boss saw two of the bookies pre-season favourites in the Premier League sack-race make their exits.

The two week international break tends to be prime season for managers to be replaced and with just four more Premier League games on the agenda before another break for national team matches, these are the managers under scrutiny ahead of big games in the next couple of weeks.

Tim Sherwood (Aston Villa)

Sack race odds: 6/4 favourite

Next two matches: Chelsea (a), Swansea (h)

Pressure appears to have bubbled up for Sherwood after his side’s desperately disappointing 1-0 home defeat against Stoke in their last match, with reports in the UK media suggesting the manager who took over at Villa last February needs a rapid upturn in fortunes if he is to survive the axe.

Former Spurs boss Sherwood vowed to ensure Villa would not be involved in a relegation fight again so long as he was in charge, but four points from their first eight games has hardly backed up that confident boast. A heavy defeat against under-pressure Chelsea on Saturday will put further strain on Sherwood’s position.

Steve McClaren (Newcastle)

Sack race odds: 5/2

Next two matches: Norwich (h), Sunderland (a)

Newcastle were chasing the services of McClaren for a long time before than actually landed him last summer and after just eight games in charge, there are already suggestions that he is under pressure.

Handed a place on the board and given £50m to spend last summer, McClaren was expected to deliver more than three points from his first eight games and the local derby against Sunderland later this month is already looking like a make-or-break game for the former England manager. No one outside of their little North East of England outpost cares too much about Sunderland v Newcastle matches, but it is a fixtures that can define a managers career at both clubs.

Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)

Sack race odds: 9/2

Next two matches: Aston Villa (h), West Ham (a)

It seems remarkable that Mourinho’s position as Chelsea boss is under threat eight games into his side’s defence of the Premier League title, but such has been the meltdown that he has inspired at Stamford Bridge that he could be out of a job soon unless he finds a solution. He's already had the vote of confidence from his club and that generally precedes the sack in this business.

Mourinho seems to struggle to stay anywhere for too long without upsetting all around him and that familiar pattern has developed at Chelsea in his third season as the club’s manager. He needs a win in his side’s next two Premier League matches, which will have a Champions League clash against Dynamo Kiev sandwiched in between.

Tony Pulis (West Brom)

Sack race odds: 20/1

Next two matches: Sunderland (h), Norwich (a)

There is only so much any set of supporters can take of the brand of football christened as ‘Pulisball’ by detractors of the effective and thoroughly unattractive brand of football promoted by the West Brom boss.

When his side are winning, fans will put up with the lack of entertainment to an extent, but the sight of the Baggies going down to a limp defeat against Crystal Palace on the back of their surrender of a 2-0 lead against Everton in their previous game set some alarm bells ringing at West Brom. Their next two games give them a chance to bounce back.

Sam Allardyce (Sunderland)

Sack race odds: 33/1

Next two matches: West Brom (a), Newcastle (h)

The manager whose name cannot be muttered by media commentators without the word ‘Big’ placed before it only staged his first press conference as Sunderland manager on Tuesday lunchtime and already he is among the tips to face the sack.

It may seem as if judgement on his hopes at Sunderland has been passed with a little too much haste, but thus is the life of a manager at a club that has embraced managerial changes far too swiftly in recent years. Like Pulis, Allardyce promotes a brand of football that is hard to love so he better find a way to start winning quickly.

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