EPL: 5 Coaches Already on the Hot Seat
It’s never too early to lose your job.
Even though we’ve only had five weeks of the 2012 Premier League season, a poor start will lead to speculation about job security. The coach will usually be the one to blame, justifiably or not.
This season is no exception.
Struggling teams now have one more thing to worry about, as they are now forced to field questions about the ability of their coach. For the ambulance chasers among you, TheSackRace.com is a good place to start.
What follows is an examination of the rumours surrounding five men in charge of Premier League teams and the likelihood of them losing their jobs in the coming weeks.
Southampton lost their first four games of the year, which inevitably set in motion talk about Adkins being released from his position.
This is common among newly-promoted teams. Acclimating to the top flight isn’t easy, and the Saints played Manchester City, Manchester United, and Arsenal in those first four games, so had it tougher than most.
However, sandwiched in between these matches was a 2-0 home defeat to Wigan, which was a game many expected Southampton to win.
They would hit the bar twice, but never really deserved to get anything from the game. Rickie Lambert was their only bright spot, looking threatening and making Latics keeper Ali Al-Habsi work for his money.
The Saints got their first win of the season against Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa, convincingly fighting back to a 4-1 victory and allowing Adkins a little breathing space.
For his part, Adkins isn’t remotely concerned:
I think if you're looking over your shoulder thinking “Well, if I don't win this one,” your mind is going to be affected in different ways so I don't even think about that.
At some stage in the future, like in every job, there will be a parting of ways a long way down the line (via The Independent)
Adkins has guided the team to successive promotions—much like Lambert did with Norwich—and deserves a lot of credit for doing so. It’s reasonable to expect a certain amount of faith to be shown by the chairman in recompense for Adkins’ achievements, but that doesn’t always happen.
Adkins will have a leash that extends to the January window and then his position will likely be re-assessed. If the Saints are adrift at the bottom, the board will do anything to avoid relegation.
Adkins will be the man shown the door.
Football fans know how to get a reaction. All it takes is a few well-chosen words chanted at the opposing team.
That’s how it was following Liverpool’s home defeat to Manchester United, when the United fans seized the opportunity to remind Brendan Rodgers of his predecessors’ fate. “You’re getting sacked in the morning” went the refrain, hammering home Liverpool’s poor start to the season—their worst in 100 years.
The Kop were defiant as ever in the face of their old rivals. “There’s only one Brendan Rodgers” was their reply, which had as much to do with wounded pride as genuine belief.
Rodgers acknowledged their support, knowing that his side deserved something from the game (via LiverpoolEcho.co.uk).
Rodgers has been unlucky during his short tenure at Anfield, but his side have also failed to capitalize on their chances. Until that happens, there will continue to be talk about the manager’s future. Luis Suarez is yet to recapture the Ajax form that brought him to Merseyside and the team badly need goals.
In the 2008-09 season, there were many instances where Liverpool found themselves chasing the game, but carved out a result in the final 15 minutes. That is the mark of a championship-caliber team, and something that the current side is lacking.
The side is full of promise and can take heart from the performances of Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling and Suso—along with the fact that both Manchester sides looked second-best when visiting Anfield.
The players are buying into the Rodgers regime, but it’s the results that will decide his fate.
Promise or not, Roy Hodgson’s ill-fated reign garnered more points from the first five games than this team has managed.
The bookmakers are offering odds of 10/1 on Rodgers being the next Premier League manager to lose his job, however, this is premature. There is positive change evident at Anfield, so Rodgers will be afforded more time to convert this into results
He will have this entire season to show that he can deliver, but don’t expect Fenway Sports Group to be lenient much beyond that.
Another man apparently unconcerned with his future, Brian McDermott’s Reading find themselves propping up the table with one solitary point from their first four games.
That start has got everyone pointing over their shoulders and reminding him what’s in store should it continue. Their defence has been particularly porous, conceding nine goals in four games and making a rash of mistakes.
When playing against Reading, Jermain Defoe needed only six touches from the halfway line to make his way through the Reading defence. His seventh put the ball in the net (via The Daily Mail).
From the way that Spurs played that day—or were allowed to play—it would have been easy to surmise that Reading were the away team. André Villas-Boas was facing questions about his own future before the game, but he responded with victory—following it up with another win against QPR.
Reading have been unable to find the spark that gets them their first win, or even their second point. A home game against Newcastle is the next test, and is unlikely to provide the break McDermott desperately needs.
Looking past that week, the Royals face Swansea, Liverpool and Fulham. It’s difficult to imagine Reading getting any more than one point from these fixtures, which would leave them—or, more precisely, McDermott—in a precarious position.
It’s not a good start to your contract when the chief executive of the football club sits next to you at your inaugural press conference and infers your job is under threat should the team be relegated.
That’s exactly what happened to Mark Hughes in January. When asked about the managerial situation if relegation became a reality, Philip Beard offered a less-than-ringing endorsement of the new manager:
I look at business plans all the time and contingency plans. I hope what we've done over the last couple of days means that I don't have to get those numbers out. But I'd be crazy to say that I haven't even thought about what we'd be doing if we didn't stay in the Premier League (via The Guardian).
As we know, Hughes was successful in his bid to keep QPR in the top flight—barely. The team avoided relegation by one point on the last day of the season, despite losing to Manchester City in the incredible match that saw City clinch the league title in injury time.
Hughes’ job was safe, but his team’s results this year won’t have eased his mind as the season began. Draws with Chelsea and Norwich have been the high points so far, despite a good performance in the defeat to Tottenham.
The difference between QPR and, say, Norwich—who currently sit one point above them—is that the Loftus Road team can afford to sack their manager and Norwich can’t. The pressure on Chris Hughton to emulate Lambert’s success is there, certainly, but his job isn’t in jeopardy should he fail.
QPR have the money of Lakshmi Mittal to spend and have definitely not been shy in doing so. The additions of Park Ji-Sung, José Bosingwa, Robert Green, Junior Hoilett, Andrew Johnson and Ryan Nelsen showed that the club is betting a lot of money on short-term success.
That sort of lineup cannot be maintained, especially as the club’s status is still somewhat small.
The turnover has to be in indirect proportion to the wage bill, and relegation would deprive them of the financial benefits that Premier League status provides. It's not a viable strategy in any sense.
Hughes would be one of the first to go, with any new manager tasked with thinning out the squad and getting results in a tough Championship.
If anything, that’s an even worse proposition.
Big Sam has been preparing for the sack for what seems like forever.
Just before gaining West Ham promotion back to the EPL, there were rumours that he would be shown the door to make way for a bigger name.
This never transpired, but Allardyce remained in the discussion when highlighting managerial jobs under threat. Despite only losing one game so far, the last noise being made was that Harry Redknapp will be the man to take over at Upton Park.
Odds were slashed to 2/1 that Redknapp would return to the Hammers, following his departure in 2001. Redknapp was also an Irons player in the 1970s, so has the same sentimental air among some fans that Kenny Dalglish has at Liverpool.
The argument is that Redknapp would bring a more free-flowing style of football to Upton Park, along with an innate ability to get the best out of his players.
However, he also used the same tactics Allardyce is often criticised for, particularly when he had Peter Crouch’s height to exploit. Likewise, Allardyce's teams often put together a string of nice passing moves that belie his reputation for route-one football.
In fact, it's not unreasonable to suggest that there would be no discernible difference in the quality of football produced.
Redknapp caused a lot of problems when he was at West Ham, making some poor signings and even poorer on-field judgements. The increased wage he would command wouldn't guarantee success at all.
Allardyce is safe for this year, at least.