5 WF Managers in Danger of Losing Their Jobs Before Christmas

Tony MabertContributor IOctober 31, 2012

5 WF Managers in Danger of Losing Their Jobs Before Christmas

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    The time when the winter months begin to close in across Europe is also the time when many football managers begin to feel the wolves at their door.

    All of the early-season optimism has long since dissipated, and if teams are still performing below expectation then many a chairman will be thinking seriously about making a change in the dugout.

    Sacking a manager before the hectic Christmas schedule in Britain or the winter break everywhere else gives a new man enough time to bed in and target new recruits for the January transfer window in a bid to turn round a club's ailing fortunes.

    Here are five bosses who could be consigned to a miserable holiday season if their results don't improve soon. 

Massimiliano Allegri

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    In 2011, at the end of his first season in charge, Allegri led AC Milan to their first Serie A title in seven years, but things have gone downhill ever since.

    True, the astonishing rise of Juventus last season, when they won the title undefeated, was beyond his control. So too was the fire sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, which would be the equivalent of Barcelona selling Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol or Manchester United shipping out Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic.

    But a poor start to this season sees them languishing in mid-table—while local rivals Inter are sitting third—and struggling in their Champions League group has heaped the pressure on the former Cagliari coach.

    If his gamble of switching to a back three does not work quickly, it could be 'Arrivederci Allegri'. 

Mark Hughes

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    Since taking over from Neil Warnock in January, Hughes has brought 13 new players to Loftus Road. They include Ji-Sung Park from Manchester United, Esteban Granero from Real Madrid and the much-coveted Junior Hoilett.

    In spite of that, QPR sit rock bottom of the Premier League table, still awaiting their first win having garnered just three points from their first nine matches.

    Hughes has won just eight and lost 18 of his 31 games in charge, and it was only results elsewhere which saw them avoid relegation on the final day of last season.

    QPR owner Tony Fernandes' tweets backing his manager have become a weekly occurrence. If they run dry, Hughes will fear his days are numbered.

Marcelo Bielsa

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    What has happened to the fearless, free-scoring Athletic which cuts swathes through Europe on its way to the Europa League final last season?

    The Basque club won many admirers last term with their collection of talented young players led by the eccentric, non-nonsense coach Marcelo Bielsa.

    The summer saw World Cup-winning midfielder Javi Martinez leave for Bayern Munich, while striker Fernando Llorente failed to get the move he so openly courted.

    The leaking of a recording of Bielsa addressing his players in the locker room earlier this season is a symptom of dissatisfaction somewhere in the camp, but the fact Athletic currently lie just two places and one point above the relegation zone is a far more pressing concern for the Argentine coach. 

Roberto Mancini

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    Mancini may have won Manchester City their first league title in 44 years years less than six months ago, but he is already under pressure this season.

    Despite being third in the table, just one point off leaders Chelsea and the only team yet to lose a match in the Premier League this season, the Italian has come under some real scrutiny.

    For the second year in a row, City are foundering int he Champions League, having only picked up a point from their first three group games.

    Add to that reports of unrest within the camp and an owner who has ploughed almost a billion pounds into the club, and the man who replaced Mark Hughes shortly before Christmas 2009 is in danger of suffering a similar fate if he fails to reach the latter stages yet again.

Markus Babbel

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    We have already seen one managerial casualty in the Bundesliga this season—that of Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath—and there could soon be another manager queuing up at the German equivalent of the dole office.

    Markus Babbel returned to management with Hoffenheim this season with the stated aim of pushing for a European place, but right now the club is just two points above the relegation zone having lost five of their nine league games thus far and shipping 20 goals in the process—more than any other team in the league.

    A multitude of reported disciplinary issues, which include fights on the training ground and players being banished to the reserves, has led to Babbel's ability being questioned by fans and media alike. 

    This weekend's visit of high-flying Schalke to the Rhein-Neckar-Arena could be Babbel's final game in charge if the small-town team with a super-rich owner do not pull something out of the bag.