Firing Squad: European Club Managers Facing the Early Sack This Season
In the days after B/R Football’s Firing Squad column debuted, Bruno Labbadia was sacked as Stuttgart manager and replaced by Thomas Schneider, the club’s former youth coach.
No doubt one or two more from this week’s look at the sack race could be pink-slipped before we reconvene.
After all, their lots in life are hardly getting easier with each passing match.
The following slideshow showcases five managers who could face the firing squad in the early days of their campaigns—two of whom, incidentally, are currently posted in the same city.
Alan Pardew, Newcastle
So long as Joe Kinnear is functioning as director of football at Newcastle—and neither his health nor his job description seem to have changed since last week—Alan Pardew will be at risk of the sack.
Not that any of this is Pardew’s fault.
In tandem with the club’s former directors of football, the 52-year-old established a rather successful record in the transfer market on Tyneside, bringing such players into St. James’ Park as Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye.
But Kinnear has so far been unable to make any meaningful signings in the summer window and with Newcastle yet to find the back of the net in two Premier League matches so far, the Irishman could well take his fury out on Pardew, who could be forgiven if he fails to shed a tear at his exit.
Pepe Mel, Real Betis
The Andalusian city of Seville could be seeing its two most prominent managers making their exits before too long.
At Real Betis, Pepe Mel has faced the sack on numerous occasions since his appointment in 2010 and as he enters his fourth season in charge of the Verdiblancos, his longevity could end up being one of the things that works against him.
Last season Mel improved the club’s final position in the table from 13th to seventh—given the expectations that accompanied such a strong season, it’s well nigh impossible that he’ll be able to deliver on them.
So far this term Real Betis have lost both their Primera Division matches—away to Real Madrid and at home to Celta Vigo.
Unai Emery, Sevilla
Sevilla have appointed six managers since 2010, so no one who takes the reins at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan can expect to stay in their job long-term these days.
Unai Emery is no exception.
Hired in January to replace Michel, who had been in the position only 11 months and whose predecessor had lasted just seven months, Emery managed to take Los Rojiblancos up to ninth in the table last season—a salvage job but still well below the sort of finish the club expect.
So far this season Sevilla are winless in two league matches, having lost 3-1 at home to Atletico Madrid and drawn 0-0 away to Levante.
Emery is on a short leash and could be released at a moment’s notice.
Jens Keller, Schalke
Like Sevilla, Bundesliga side Schalke have been through several managers in the past couple of seasons and current boss Jens Keller was only appointed last December.
Had Die Konigsblauen not progressed beyond PAOK and qualified for the Champions League Group Stage, he would almost certainly have been sacked earlier this week, but his side’s 3-2 win in Greece bought him some time.
As in three or four matches.
Should Schalke falter in their first two Group Stage matches (on Thursday they were drawn into a bracket alongside Chelsea, Basel and Steaua Bucuresti) Keller, 42, will almost certainly be let go, as three Bundesliga matches have yet to produce a single win.
Thorsten Fink, Hamburg
Somehow, Thorsten Fink remains Hamburg manager, despite the worst possible start to the domestic season for Die Rothosen.
Following a week in which German outlet Bild described the situation at the club as a "loony bin" (two players were suspended after going on an unsanctioned holiday to Spain), Hamburg lost 1-0 away to Hertha Berlin and remain second from bottom in the standings.
On Saturday, the side will be at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in their final match before the two-week international break—and if they don’t record a win, it’s almost certain that Fink will walk the plank.