Firing Squad: The Most Under-Pressure Managers from Europe's Top 5 Leagues
Since B/R Football’s “Firing Squad” column debuted last month, we’ve kept an eye on those club managers under the gun in the early days of the 2013-14 season.
And some have already met their fate.
Stuttgart’s Bruno Labbadia? Gone. Hamburg’s Thorsten Fink? See ya. Sunderland’s Paolo Di Canio? Ciao.
No doubt one or two of the five in this installment of the “Firing Squad” could be pink-slipped before we reconvene.
After all, their lots in life will only get more difficult with poor results at the weekend.
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. 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 won just once, and against Villarreal on Sunday they’ll be bringing a three-match winless skid in all competitions to Estadio Manuel Ruiz de Lopera.
They’ve also managed to score just six goals in La Liga this season—a rate of production typically characteristic of sides pulled into relegation fights.
Unai Emery, Sevilla
Unai Emery is Sevilla’s sixth manager since 2010, so it goes without saying that no one appointed at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan can expect to stay in their job long-term.
The 41-year-old 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 decent salvage job, but still well below the sort of finish the club should be expecting.
So far this season, Sevilla have won just once—on Wednesday against Rayo Vallecano. It is absolutely vital for Emery that they build on that momentum on Saturday against Real Sociedad.
Another defeat could see the club look to its seventh manager in three years.
Jens Keller, Schalke
Jens Keller was only appointed Schalke manager last December, but a poor start to the season that currently sees the Gelsenkirchen outfit ranked 14th in the Bundesliga could be enough for the club’s directors to ring the changes once again.
The Royal Blues were thumped 4-0 at home to Bayern Munich last weekend, and if they can’t take all three points from a Hoffenheim side currently three places above them in the table, the pressure on Keller will only grow.
The offseason addition of Kevin-Prince Boateng was supposed to make Schalke stronger. If the results don’t match the talent on the pitch, Keller will almost certainly pay the price.
Massimiliano Allegri, AC Milan
AC Milan had to dig deep to draw Bologna on Wednesday, fighting back to earn a 3-3 result late on against their Serie A rivals.
So far this season, the Rossoneri have won just one of five league matches and currently have one of the poorer defensive records in the division.
None of this bodes well for Allegri, who will be without suspended striker Mario Balotelli for Saturday’s match at home to 18th-place Sampdoria.
The 46-year-old and his side could hardly endure the embarrassment of a loss against a club in the relegation places, but they’ve so far produced little that indicates they’re much better than any of the lower mid-table teams in Serie A.
Francis Gillot, Bordeaux
Bordeaux are in the Ligue 1 relegation places ahead of Saturday’s trip to Evian Thonon.
Since winning their lone match of the season at home to Bastia on August 24, they have gone winless in five matches in all competitions—a stretch that includes an embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.
Evian, currently two points above Bordeaux in the table, are the sort of side Francis Gillot’s side should be beating. If they don’t it might end up being his final match in charge of the club.
Fixtures are coming thick and fast, with a Europa League appointment with Maccabi Tel-Aviv forthcoming, which will be followed three days later by Sochaux’s visit to Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas.