Firing Squad: The Most Under-Pressure Managers from Europe's Top 5 Leagues
Another of the managers we have highlighted in this space took the bullet in recent days.
Pepe Mel, formerly in charge of last-place Real Betis, was sacked following last weekend’s 2-2 draw at home to Rayo Vallecano, although it was likely the 4-0 defeat in the Seville derby seven days earlier that drove the final nail into his coffin.
As a result, we have a debutante on this instalment of the Firing Squad, and appropriately he, too, manages a Primera Division side in danger of the drop.
We will also feature a pair of Premier League managers and one from each of Germany and Italy.
Chris Hughton, Norwich City
Although Norwich City have won two of their last four Premier League matches, those victories came against relegation-threatened West Ham and Crystal Palace and are quite quickly forgotten in light of heavy recent losses to both Manchester City and Liverpool.
Going into the weekend’s encounter away to West Bromwich Albion, the Canaries sit just two places and four points above the drop.
The good news is a schedule including matches against the Baggies, Swansea, Sunderland and Fulham could conceivably see Norwich rise up the standings.
Conversely, of course, a poor run against beatable opposition would almost certainly result in manager Chris Hughton getting the axe.
Armin Veh, Eintracht Frankfurt
The question facing Armin Veh is this: Are results in the DfB Pokal and Europa League enough to keep him in his job, even as Eintracht Frankfurt flounder in the Bundesliga?
With just a single win in the German top flight since mid-September, Eintracht are level with struggling Freiburg for the relegation playoff place and just three points above the automatic drop-zone.
Veh has been with Die Adler since 2011, and to remain in charge of the club going into the New Year, he’ll need to win at least one of his side’s final three matches of 2013 against Hoffenheim, Bayer Leverkusen and Augsburg.
Francisco Rodriguez, Almeria
A managerial change helped Osasuna get out of the relegation zone in La Liga; Real Betis will no doubt be hoping a similar move will work identical wonders for them.
Almeria, meanwhile, go into Sunday’s Copa del Rey match away to Las Palmas only two points above last-place Betis, and before the winter break they’ll have league matches against both the Verdiblancos and Espanyol.
Manager Francisco Rodriguez is just 35 years old and in his first year of senior coaching at the club. But if things don’t improve in the next few weeks, Almeria chairman Alfonso Garcia may look to bring in a more experienced name for the relegation fight.
Stefano Pioli, Bologna
Two of the three clubs below 17th-place Bologna have already made managerial changes this season, as has the one immediately above them.
No doubt Stefano Pioli is feeling the head going into the weekend’s match at home to Juventus.
The struggling Rossoblu will also face Fiorentina and Genoa before the Christmas break, and even three points from the nine available may not be enough to keep Pioli in his job when the second half of the Serie A season kicks off next month.
Sam Allardyce, West Ham
West Ham may have finished 10th in the Premier League last season, but having failed to meaningfully bolster their squad in the summer, they are now falling into a rather predictable relegation scrap.
Only Crystal Palace and Sunderland—in 19th and 20th places, respectively—have scored fewer goals than the Hammers this term, and since the beginning of October the London club have managed only five goals from eight matches—three of which came against Fulham on November 30.
With three of their next four matches against Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, it’s unlikely West Ham’s fortunes will much improve before the New Year, and manager Sam Allardyce could be the one to pay the price.