England's Managerial Sack Race: 4 Managers with Their Jobs on the Line
The English Premier League has never really been kind to managers. In a day and age when opinion is often shaped by the outpouring of media opinion after every game, managers are often first in the firing line once things start going wrong.
Taking a look back at managerial sackings since 1994, it is clear that November is the most deadly month for managers in the Premier League. Since 1994, almost 20 percent (21 out of 106) managerial sackings have occurred in the month of November—more than any other month.
So what is it about November that makes managers especially vulnerable to sackings?
First of all, around a quarter of the season is usually over by the time November rolls around, and owners have a good idea of what the club can aspire to that season (top four, European place, mid-table safety or relegation dogfight).
Often, owners whose teams struggle at the start of the season decide the current form of the team does not meet their expectations. With the transfer window closed and prevailing tactics not working, they often take the simplistic view of dismissing their manager in a bid to inject fresh impetus into their teams.
So, as in every year, are there managers who are susceptible to losing their jobs in the current month? Of course there are.
Here is a look at four of the most vulnerable managers in the Premier League at the moment.
Nigel Adkins, Southampton
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While the Saints haven't had too many problems scoring goals (15 goals from 11 games), they have by far the worst defensive record in the Premiership (29 goals conceded).
All this has led to mounting speculation that there could be a change at the helm at St. Mary's—so much so that Nigel Adkins himself admitted he was the most likely manager to lose his job first this season.
Adkins' job hasn't been made any easier by the fact that Southampton have played seven of their games against teams in the top half of the table. It has been a big return to Earth for the manager who led Southampton to successive promotions after they were languishing in League One two seasons ago.
While Adkins remains popular among Saints supporters, the owners at the club might feel different. If that is the case, it could well be a bad November for the Southampton manager.
Mark Hughes, QPR
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If anyone did a survey of the biggest changes within an English team due to transfer window transactions, Queens Park Rangers would be at the top of the list.
Mark Hughes made as many as 10 major signings, including the likes of Julio Cesar, Park Ji Sung, Esteban Granero, Stephen M'bia and Junior Hoilett.
However, the changes have done nothing to help the Rangers, as they currently lie rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table.
The position in the table is certainly a vulnerable one for Mark Hughes personally. After all, his predecessor, Neil Warnock, was sacked by owner Tony Fernandes when Rangers fell to the 17th place in the table last season.
Although Fernandes has defended his manager on Twitter quite often, one can imagine the Malaysian millionaire will be quite as patient should QPR's fortunes not change soon.
Martin O'Neill, Sunderland
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Martin O'Neill has earned a lot of respect for his managerial record at clubs like Leicester City, Celtic and Aston Villa over the last decade and a half.
However, O'Neill faces the possibility of his current spell at Sunderland eroding his managerial reputation. The Black Cats are currently on a dire run, with only one win in their last 19 league games.
Worse still, they are having a very hard time scoring goals this season, with Adam Johnson's goal against Everton on Saturday being the only goal scored by a Sunderland player other than Steven Fletcher.
This poor sequence of results has seen Sunderland regress from the progress they seemed to have made after O'Neill replaced Steve Bruce last season. Players such as Stephane Sessegnon, James McLean and Jack Colback, who seemed inspired by O'Neill's presence last season, appear jaded and bereft of ideas.
Sunderland's poor run currently has them in the 16th position in the league table, only three points off the relegation zone.
With there being prior history of the owners at the Stadium of Light sacking managers for better starts than this, it is likely that O'Neill isn't just fighting for a revival of his team's fortunes. Rather, he is also fighting for his job.
Roberto Mancini, Manchester City
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Manchester City are the defending Premier League champions, having won their first league title in 44 years.
They currently sit in third place in the Premier League table, five points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.
Yet there are many rumblings of discontent at the Etihad stadium, related more with the Blues' performance in the Champions League. City are currently in the bottom of their group with little hope of qualifying for the knockout stages.
The performance in the Champions League has been seen in the media as a personal failure of the manager, Roberto Mancini. Much has been said and written about the lack of organization in defence and the decision to keep switching between a three-man and a four-man defence.
If City go out of the Champions League in the group stages as expected, Mancini's hopes of staying in the job may well depend on retaining the Premiership title.
However, there are additional rumours that have contributed to making his situation at City unclear. First, City has appointed two ex-Barcelona directors (Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristan) on their staff. With Pep Guardiola also currently available, the prospects of a return of the triumvirate that brought so much success at Barcelona may sound too alluring to the club's owners.
In addition, reports have emerged (confirmed by Mancini himself) that he had talked to multiple clubs last season about leaving City and taking over at the helm in those places.
All these stories will play themselves out over the season, mixing together in a single story like a Hollywood potboiler. In the end, whether Mancini stays at City or not could well be determined by the truth of one or more of these individual stories.