Firing Squad: The Most Under-Pressure Managers from Europe's Top 5 Leagues

Jerrad Peters@@jerradpetersWorld Football Staff WriterJanuary 2, 2014

Firing Squad: The Most Under-Pressure Managers from Europe's Top 5 Leagues

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    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has yet to manage his first match at Cardiff City, but already you could just about put the Norwegian on this list.

    Any manager, after all, will be under intense pressure as long as Vincent Tan is running things at the Welsh outfit. Therefore, despite the fact that the Malaysian pursued the former Molde boss as he looked to replace Malky Mackay, it almost certainly won’t take much for Tan to pull the trigger once again.

    There has also been a recent development at AC Milan, where manager Massimiliano Allegri announced this week that he won’t be returning to the San Siro next season. No doubt the rumour mill will churn out no shortage of candidates to replace him between now and the spring.

    Throughout Europe, the managers of some of the biggest leagues in the world are feeling the heat as calendars for 2014 go up, and the following are five who could be out of work if results don’t come quickly in the new year. 

Christian Streich, Freiburg

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    Freiburg ended 2013 with a 2-1 win at home to Hannover, but it was just their third victory in a season that sees them enter the second half of the schedule in the Bundesliga’s relegation play-off place.

    Not surprisingly, manager Christian Streich will have a mandate to put a decent run of form together when the German top flight restarts later this month, but the club’s January 25 meeting with high-flying Bayer Leverkusen will be unlikely to bear three points.

    From there, Freiburg will face Mainz, Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich in a three-game stretch that could either make or break Streich. 

Juan Ignacio Martinez, Real Valladolid

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    The excitement that followed Real Valladolid’s 3-0 win at home to Celta Vigo on December 16 was soon followed by losses in both La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Entering the 2014 portion of the schedule, the Castile and Leon outfit is now 17th in the table, above the relegation places on goal difference.

    Manager Juan Ignacio Martinez only joined the club in the summer, but he’s on a short string going into Saturday’s match at home to Real Betis, after which Valladolid will visit Granada.

    Both are winnable games for last season’s 14th-place finishers, and Martinez’s future at the club could hinge on how many points his side takes from them. 

Remi Garde, Lyon

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    Lyon are accustomed to playing Champions League football in the winter. It goes without saying that a season without any form of European football would be a disappointment.

    Through 19 matches, the seven-time Ligue 1 champions are 10th in the French top flight and have won just one of their last six matches.

    A run of upcoming games against Sochaux, Reims, Evian and Rennes will provide an opportunity to move up in the standings, but if performances continue to be poor, there’s a chance manager Remi Garde will not see out the season at Stade Gerland. 

Stefano Pioli, Bologna

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    Stefano Pioli bought himself some time at Bologna after concluding the 2013 portion of the Serie A season with a 1-0 win at home to Genoa.

    Just how much time will likely be determined by upcoming matches against Catania and Lazio.

    The Rossoblu are fourth from bottom and just a single point above the relegation places after 17 rounds, and their December 22 victory was their first since October. 

Sam Allardyce, West Ham

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    The year is only two days old, but already 2014 would appear to be an "annus horribilis" for West Ham and embattled manager Sam Allardyce.

    As if Wednesday’s 2-1 loss against relegation rivals Fulham wasn’t enough, Kevin Nolan picked up a red card for a horrendous challenge. On Thursday, Dutch defender John Heitinga then turned down a move to Upton Park, as reported by BBC Sport.

    The Hammers haven’t won in the Premier League since November, and Allardyce is in as tenuous a position as he’s been since arriving at the club in 2011.

    This weekend, the team faces an FA Cup match away to Nottingham Forest.