October 11, 2016

LINSEY | The ‘Sack Race’: Managers Who May Lose Their Jobs

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The ball sailed through the air in the Swansea City penalty area, where the team’s right full-back, Angel Rangel, anticipated its descent. However, he misjudged the ball’s flight, allowing Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino to beat him to the ball. Rangel shoved the Brazilian in the back and Firmino fell to the ground. The referee pointed to the penalty spot, where James Milner would score Liverpool’s late winning goal in a 2-1 decision. Several days later, Swansea City’s manager Francesco Guidolin was fired and replaced by the American Bob Bradley, after widespread reports that Swansea needed to beat Liverpool to save Guidolin’s job. The Italian Guidolin was just seven games into his first full season on the job and is the first Premier League manager to be fired this campaign.

In recent seasons, Premier League chairmen have had decreasing patience with their managers. A run of five games without a win or 10 games with only a few wins could lead to managers “getting the sack,” as the Brits call it. The unfortunate Guidolin was the first to go, but there will undoubtedly be more sackings as the season goes on. Let’s assess the managers likely to be fired soon, all the way through those who have the job as long as they want it.

Be Watching LinkedIn, Just In Case

West Ham’s Slaven Bilic is the most likely to be fired next. There are rumors of boardroom discontent with his performance this season, after an outstanding campaign last time around. In his defense, his team has been besieged by injuries. Stoke City’s Mark Hughes really struggled to get his team going this season, and the Potters have the worst goal difference in the 20-team Premier League. Sunderland’s David Moyes is also in this section, because his team is in last place with only two points from seven games. Given Moyes’s pedigree and the fact he was just hired this summer, logically results will improve as he settles in, so it would be surprising to see him fired in the next few weeks.

In Charge For Now, But Don’t Slip Up

Middlesbrough’s Aitor Karanka leads the next section, as his team started the season promisingly but has struggled since. Given Karanka has excelled as the team’s manager for the past two years in the lower divisions, he will likely be given at least until January to show he is the best coach for the team’s Premier League adventure. Another newly promoted manager, Hull City’s Mike Phelan, is also going through a sticky spell after two wins to start the season. As an interim manager, his job is also less secure. West Bromwich’s Tony Pulis could be sacked soon as well, despite the fact that his club occupies ninth place, a good position considering the club’s aims. Like Bilic, there are rumors that the chairman is unhappy with Pulis’s defensive style of play.

Adequately Doing Their Job

Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho and Chelsea’s Antonio Conte are both experiencing some growing pains as they settle at these big clubs. Both are unlikely to be fired in the near future, but results need to improve if they want to stay for the long-term. Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe are currently keeping small-budget clubs out of the relegation zone, a commendable achievement that will keep them in their roles. Watford’s Walter Mazzarri has done well, but the Pozzo family (who own the team) are known to be very quick to fire the team’s manager if anything goes wrong. In this way, Mazzarri will be constantly looking over his shoulder. Southampton’s Claude Puel and Crystal Palace’s Alan Pardew are enjoying solid runs of form for their teams, but both could conceivably be fired later this season if things go south.

Impressive Work

Tottenham Hotspur’s Mauricio Pocchettino is proving to be a very successful manager. At his old club Southampton, he developed a reputation for positive attacking play and for reliance on youth. He has adopted the same strategy at Tottenham, deploying an attack of young talents Dele Alli and Harry Kane. Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp has built an attacking juggernaut, but the defense needs some work. Fenway Sports Group, the American ownership group, is unlikely to fire him as long as they score regularly. Ronald Koeman took over this summer at the other Merseyside club, Everton, and has largely impressed, with Everton in fifth place so far. He has solidified the team’s defense, even after the summer sale of John Stones.

Job For Life

Manchester City has wanted Pep Guardiola to be its manager for years. Now that they have Guardiola and he has led them to first place, they won’t let him go. Leicester City’s Claudio Ranieri has this job for as long as he wants it after the team’s fairytale championship win last season. Lastly, Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger, having just celebrated his 20th year in charge of the club, is the definition of this category.