Firing Squad: The Most Under-Pressure Managers from Europe's Top 5 Leagues
It is time for the latest instalment of the Firing Squad, featuring the most under-pressure coaches from across Europe’s top five leagues, as we finally return to domestic action this weekend following the recent break for international football.
Which teams’ managers are set to be under scrutiny this week, and will they manage to see out the upcoming set of fixtures?
Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City)
While the start to his managerial career at Manchester City has been far from disastrous, there is no doubt at all that the pressure is slowly starting to build on the shoulders of the experienced Chilean manager, ahead of the Northwest club’s tricky-looking Premier League trip to meet West Ham United at Upton Park on Saturday afternoon.
City currently sit in a respectable fifth place in the top-flight standings. However, it is their poor form on the road that is currently causing great concern, and with the Hammers having stunned in-form Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 in the previous round of league fixtures, this contest in the East End of London has "shock" written all over it.
And the last thing Pellegrini wants before a crucial UEFA Champions League group-stage fixture away at CSKA Moscow in midweek is to slip up in the capital in front of the live TV cameras this weekend.
Massimiliano Allegri (AC Milan)
The AC Milan head coach is seemingly always under the most intense pressure and on the verge of losing his job at San Siro, although on this occasion, the writing does very much appear to be on the wall for the likable 46-year-old.
The Rossoneri are currently languishing down in an underwhelming 12th place in Serie A after the first seven rounds of league fixtures, already a massive 13 points behind leaders AS Roma following recent losses to both in-form Napoli and champions Juventus.
And with home matches to come on Saturday against mid-table Udinese, followed by yet another UEFA Champions League meeting with Liga champions FC Barcelona on Wednesday night, this really could be a pivotal week for Milan’s beleaguered boss; although how many times have we said that in the past?
Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid)
If you thought that the pressure on the Milan manager’s shoulders was intense, then it is nothing compared to that currently being endured by one of Allegri’s predecessors at San Siro.
Carlo Ancelotti was finally persuaded by Madrid president Florentino Perez to swap the French for the Spanish capital last summer, after years of trying to convince “Carletto” to take on the role of managing the world’s biggest football club.
And typically, now that Perez finally has his man in place, things are not quite how he expected them to be after the opening two months of the new season, with not only bitter enemies FC Barcelona ahead of them in the table, but also city rivals Atletico Madrid, too.
Los Blancos now find themselves in third place, five points behind both Barca and Atleti at the top of La Liga after the first eight matches of the new campaign, following the 100-per cent starts made by that duo in the league.
As a result, the avuncular Italian, who knows a thing or two about pressure and demanding chairmen from his time spent coaching the Rossoneri, faces three games over the course of the next 10 days against Malaga, Juventus and Barca that could ultimately end up deciding both Madrid’s season and his very own future at the White House.
Jens Keller (Schalke 04)
There is no doubt that the man under the most pressure in the Bundesliga is the boss of under-performing German giants Schalke, despite the turnaround in the club’s fortunes which the 42-year-old oversaw after replacing Huub Stevens in the role last December.
Keller earned huge praise for transforming Schalke’s form in the second half of the previous campaign and propelling the club into this season’s UEFA Champions League, where they take on Chelsea this Wednesday at the Veltins-Arena.
However, if Keller’s men continue to demonstrate the same infuriating inconsistency in the Bundesliga as they have in their opening eight fixtures, three of which they have lost to leave them down in eighth place in the table, then it may be some time before they return to Europe’s premier club competition again.
All of which makes Saturday’s trip to bottom-of-the-table TSV Eintracht Braunschweig all the more crucial for the under-siege Schalke coach.
Jagoba Arrasate (Real Sociedad)
It was never going to be an easy task replacing Philippe Montanier at the Anoeta, after the season that the Frenchman had with the Basques last time out.
However, having worked as Montanier’s assistant, hopes were high nonetheless that there would be a seamless handing over of power at Sociedad, but that has been far from the case.
And going into Saturday’s tricky-looking Liga trip to Valencia, Sociedad have won just once in the league all season long and currently lie only one point above the drop zone, while they have also lost both of their group-stage matches in the UEFA Champions League.
So to say that the Spaniard is hanging onto his job by a thread would be an understatement.