The pressure is mounting on Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid.
For many managers in world football, just getting through 2012 ranks as an achievement. The threat of the sack looms large over everything they do in 2013, and some only kept their jobs on the promise of improvement this year.
There is more pressure on managers to get results quickly than ever before. A high-profile appointment demands instant success, so anything less than a trophy at the end of the year ranks as a disappointment, which can result in a quick exit.
At the other end of the scale, managers are charged with saving clubs from relegation, and failure to do so will also result in them being shown the door.
Here are four managers who, at their current rate of achievement, will be looking somewhere else for employment before the end of 2013.
Rafa Benitez isn't winning over anyone at Chelsea.
This is the most obvious of all the managerial vacancies, as Benitez was only brought in as an interim manager following the departure of Roberto Di Matteo.
He has a good relationship with Fernando Torres in particular, and his appointment in the midst of Torres’ slump was no coincidence.
Nevertheless, had Benitez been wildly successful in his current role, there would have been an argument made for giving him a real run at the job.
Benitez hasn’t been able to achieve this, however. He has suffered a run of poor results against teams Chelsea should be beating. Home defeats to QPR and Swansea will not be tolerated by Roman Abramovich, and the team’s sole chance of a domestic trophy this year—the FA Cup—now hangs in the balance.
The home support itself has become poisonous, with fans still seething about the manner in which Di Matteo left, along with the decision to not extend Frank Lampard’s contract.
Chelsea’s performances under Benitez have been frustrating, as have the manager’s choices. His recent decision to bench Demba Ba after a two-goal debut was baffling, and then exacerbated when Chelsea were unable to find the target.
Abramovich is not a patient man, as Chelsea’s managerial past will confirm. Benitez will be out of the club at the end of the season; that’s a certainty.
The danger is that Chelsea may find themselves with an interim-interim manager before the season is over.
Massimiliano Allegri is lucky to still be at Milan.
Massimiliano Allegri has found himself in a similar position to Alan Pardew at Newcastle, wherein much was expected of him this year but nothing arrived.
Allegri has also been hampered by injuries, but the form of his team has been poor enough for Milan chief Silvio Berlusconi to refuse to confirm his manager’s appointment for the duration of his contract.
When asked whether Allegri would return next season, Football-Italia.net reported that Berlusconi’s only response was to say “a President must always tell the truth. Therefore, let’s go to the next question.”
For what it’s worth, Allegri himself intends to see his contract out, but that’s not surprising.
Sometimes it’s considered the kiss of death for a struggling manager to receive a glowing message of support from the club President—see Mark Hughes—but there’s no doubt here that Allegri’s days at Milan are already numbered.
Everything now depends on Milan’s performances in January. If the results show no sign of an upward curve, Allegri will be the one to take the blame.
The atmosphere between Mourinho and Real Madrid fans reached new levels of discomfort when the manager again dropped Iker Casillas for the game against Real Sociedad. His replacement, Antonio Adan, was then sent off and Casillas brought on as a substitute.
The fans’ ire with Mourinho is not limited to the Casillas incident, either.
Madrid are currently 16 points off the top of the table, behind old rivals Barcelona and local rivals Atletico Madrid. This worrying league form, along with isolated incidents of Mourinho losing his cool, could spell an end to the Portuguese manager’s dream of becoming the first manager to win the European Cup in three different countries.
The media is already full of stories regarding his departure from Spain, with The Daily Mail insisting that Mourinho will be manager of Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City next year.
A poll in Spanish sports newspaper Marca asked 704 Real Madrid fans whether Mourinho should stay at the club, as well as whether his continued presence as manager is good for the team’s reputation.
The results, via The Guardian, showed a downturn from last season, with 41.8 percent saying he should leave next year, while 61.6 percent felt that his actions were damaging to the image of the club. When asked to mark his performance as Real manager, he was given an average score of 6.68 out of 10, down from 8.82 in March 2011.
Although he led the team to the La Liga title last year, it seems patience is wearing thin. Mourinho is looking increasingly unlikely to be in Spain by this time next year.
Roberto Mancini has failed to live up to last season's success.
The whispering started when Manchester City failed to progress from the group stages of the Champions League, and these whispers only intensify with every mediocre performance put in by the defending champions.
In a year when Manchester United and Chelsea have both looked eminently beatable, this should have been the chance for City to exert their dominance and retain their title. Instead they have lacked focus and determination, looking jaded in pursuit of a championship that no longer holds the same allure.
Mancini is now faced with the reality that his team may not win anything this year, and his altercation with Mario Balotelli, no matter how much he plays it down, illustrates that his grip on the team isn’t as tight as he would like.
The Mourinho rumours will heap further pressure on the Italian to succeed.
Early in December, The Daily Star published a story stating that Mancini’s job is only safe if he is able to retain the Premier League crown, and that the rest of the season is a trial period during which he is working to save his job.
The same article notes that Mourinho has already replaced Mancini once, guiding Inter Milan to Champions League victory in 2010.
This will only add to the scrutiny of Mancini as he finishes out the season.