The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper

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National Sport

The Manager Merry-Go-Round: Who Will Be Next for the Gaffer Guillotine?

With three casualties inside the opening 10 games, is any manager safe?

Football is a ridiculous game but that fault in its personality stems from its rapid growth into a billion dollar industry during the course of this century. The Premier League now possesses universal appeal and to be amongst its 20 elite clubs brings significant wealth to those involved. The position for these 20 teams, whether they’re aiming for immortality at the top or just survival near the bottom, is often very fragile. As Frank De Boer, Craig Shakespeare and Ronald Koeman have so brutally found out, an early slip in form leads to itchy trigger fingers.

With De Boer lasting just four matches, albeit four defeats with no goals, the Premier League manager merry-go-round seems to have shifted up a gear this season. Shakespeare and Koeman’s sackings came as relative surprises too. Shakespeare, who took over from Claudio Ranieri last season and guided Leicester safely away from relegation troubles, made a relatively good start to the season in remaining unbeaten against predicted positional rivals and being competitive against the top 6 competition. As for Koeman, following a very un-Everton outlay of £140 million, you’d expect Everton’s board to give him a bit more time to embed his new players despite the club’s early season slump. The fact that Koeman was giving this much cash to splash surely suggests that Everton’s board were confident in the Dutchman’s ability?

That being considered, is any Premier League manager safe? Following the tumultuous start to the 2017/18 season, The Galleon picked out the five managers who could be next for the chop:

Slaven Bilic
West Ham still look like they’re struggling to adapt to the enormity of the London Stadium this season and as shown by the drubbings at Manchester United, Newcastle and Brighton, as well as a paltry two victories from nine games in the league. The Hammers’ poor form may indeed be down to homesickness but when it comes down to who will be blamed, the fingers will ultimately point at Bilic. There is some hope for Bilic though; West Ham’s spirited comeback from 2-0 down against Tottenham in the League Cup is a potential turning point going forward. However, consecutive matches against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in December could prove fatal for Bilic. Should Bilic continue to struggle, West Ham’s owners may look for a swift replacement who can settle before the January transfer window and plan for recruitment to bolster the squad for the second half of the season.

Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool have encountered a very inconsistent start to the season. Highs include the 4-0 win at Arsenal and the 0-7 thrashing of Maribor in the Champions League but embarrassing lows have also seen Liverpool suffer heavy defeats to supposed rivals Manchester City and Tottenham. More worrying is the way these results have unfolded. On many occasions this season, Liverpool have looked far from the marauding, energetic attacking displays of the last two seasons. Add to that a defence whose confidence seems to further deplete with each fixture and you have a concerning conundrum for a team with aspirations of Champions League qualification. Liverpool enjoyed a good season last year, pipping Arsenal and Manchester United to fourth place. However, Liverpool’s appalling defending was a real source of unease and the problem wasn’t addressed during the summer transfer window. Liverpool currently sit ninth, with one win in their last six league games. If they get cut further adrift, don’t be shocked if the seemingly impenetrable Jurgen Klopp is shown the door.

Antonio Conte
Chelsea managers often endure seasons of contrasting fortunes. Carlo Ancelotti completed a league and cup double in his first season at Chelsea but won nothing in his second. He was sacked after the final game of his second season in charge. Jose Mourinho’s second stint at Stamford Bridge saw him win his third Premier League title with the London club in 2015. The following season he was sacked after losing 9 of his 16 league games in charge. Players possess a lot of influence on proceedings at Chelsea and arguably their falling out with Mourinho and the subsequent plummet in form were the most pivotal reasons for his departure. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich smelt that and acted accordingly. Antonio Conte has a similarly tempestuous personality; he’s confident in his own ability and very outspoken. The most controversial example of this is surely the deterioration of his relationship with Diego Costa; Conte savagely told Costa that he had no future at Chelsea via text after the striker played a crucial role in last season’s league winning campaign. The departure of Nemanja Matic to title rivals Manchester United over the summer was also met with disapproval and bewilderment by critics and pundits too. Despite a depleted  squad, further compounded by injuries early on in the season, Chelsea sit a respectable fourth but crucially they’re already nine points behind early pacesetters Manchester City. For Abramovich, the standards are impeccably high and if Conte suffers a trophyless hangover season, he could suffer a fate similar to that of his predecessors Mourinho and Ancelotti.

Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes has quietly built a successful tenure over the last four years at Stoke. Hughes steered Stoke to a ninth place finish in his first season, their best top flight finish since 1975. Stoke would go on to finish ninth for the following two seasons before slipping to 13th last season. The underwhelming second half of last season, which saw Stoke slip into the relegation battle, has put some doubt in Hughes. Add to that a poor start to this season, including five losses in their last six games, and disillusion starts to set in. Hughes, who spent £30 million on his defence over the summer, will also not be helped by the 7-2 demolition at the hands of Manchester City and the 4-0 loss at Stamford Bridge just two weeks prior. However, talk of Hughes’ demise will be cooled by the presence of chairman Peter Coates. Coates’ pragmatic approach will stand Hughes in good stead should this difficult spell of form continue into November but Coates will be wary that Stoke have been on the slide since last January.

Mauricio Pellegrino
Mauricio Pellegrino promised a return to “exciting, attacking, high intensity football” at the beginning of his reign at Southampton but there has been very little to suggest that Pellegrino’s tenure will be a solid break from the uninspiring play of Claude Puel’s term at St. Mary’s. What will worry Pellegrino despite a decent start to the season is Southampton’s impatience with its coaches in recent history. His predecessor, Puel, steered Southampton to an 8th place finish and a League Cup final last season but his conservative style of play was enough to see him sacked after just one year in charge. Despite back-to-back promotions, Nigel Adkins was also fired after just half a season back in the top flight. Puel’s lacklustre style of play should be viewed as a cautious tale by Pellegrino. With the Southampton board, good results are not the only priority; the manner in which Southampton succeed takes great precedence too. Defensively, only Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Newcastle have conceded less goals but Southampton have also failed to score in four of their nine opening games. Southampton currently sit 10th and the approach this season is worryingly similar to Claude Puel’s. Southampton possess a number of extremely talented players who can instil a bit of flair into this dreary period of play but the general posture of the team looks disinterested. Pellegrino’s style of play looks like a reboot of Puel’s so surely we won’t be too surprised if his tale concludes in the same way?

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