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

Jerrad PetersWorld Football Staff WriterJanuary 9, 2014

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

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    With the Bundesliga still in the midst of its winter break, we’re going to allow the German top flight’s managers a spell of reprieve from the Firing Squad in this installment of our weekly series.

    Previously, we had speculated Freiburg’s Christian Streich, Eintracht Frankfurt’s Armin Veh and Werder Bremen’s Robin Dutt might each have been called out into the yard before the end of 2013, but with all three having remained in their jobs through the holiday season it followed that they’d be given the chance to begin 2014 with their current clubs.

    Of course, their omissions have created room for new names on our list, and we’ve found two individuals on the hot-seat in Spain and Italy.

    Following, then, are the most under-pressure managers from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1.

Stefano Colantuono, Atalanta

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    That three of the five clubs below Atalanta and the one just above have already changed managers this season must hardly comfort Stefano Colantuono, who has been with La Dea since 2010.

    The Bergamo side were thumped 3-0 away to AC Milan in their first Serie A match of 2013 and, ahead of the weekend’s encounter at home to Catania, they sit 15th in the Italian top flight, with just a single win to their credit since October.

    Colantuono needs victories in upcoming contests against the Sicilians, Cagliari and Torino before the end of the month, as February’s schedule includes matches against Napoli, Fiorentina, Parma and Udinese.

Paco, Rayo Vallecano

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    The likable coach of the likable Madrid club is nevertheless feeling the heat at the Campo, as after 18 rounds his side sits 19th in La Liga and three points back of safety.

    Rayo Vallecano, managed by Paco, have won just once since the third week of October, and the 2014 portion of their schedule got off to a horrendous start when they lost 5-2 at home to promoted Villarreal on Jan. 6.

    No side in the Spanish top flight have come close to allowing the 45 goals that have been put past Vallecano so far this season, and unless upcoming contests against Getafe and Elche reveal a better defensive approach, there’s a chance Paco may not see out the month at the club he represented as a player in the early 1990s.

Juan Ignacio Martinez, Real Valladolid

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    Incidentally, the club Rayo Vallecano are chasing in their bid for another season of Primera Division football is Real Valladolid, who restarted their campaign with a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Real Betis on Jan. 4.

    Valladolid’s December win against Celta Vigo represents the side’s only victory since Oct. 25, but success in the last round of the Copa del Rey may just be enough to keep manager Juan Ignacio Martinez in his job for the time being.

    That said, Valladolid’s next five matches may constitute the most winnable stretch of the side’s second-half schedule, and their position in the table mid-February will likely determine Martinez’ ultimate fate.

Davide Nicola, Livorno

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    Livorno may have only been promoted back to Serie A last spring, but unless results are reversed in a jiffy, they’ll be right back in the second tier of Italian football four months from now.

    The Tuscany outfit has won just a single match since the middle of September and, on Jan. 5, opened the 2014 portion of their schedule with a 1-0 defeat away to Fiorentina.

    Manager Davide Nicola, 40, has been with the club since 2012, but he will be hoping for some better performances in upcoming matches against relegation rivals Sassuolo and Catania, and just how his side come out of their upcoming four-game stretch will have a lot to do with whether he sees out the campaign at Stadio Armando Picchi.

Sam Allardyce, West Ham

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    At this point it’s hard to see West Ham staying up.

    The London side have won just three matches from 20 Premier League encounters so far this season—the most recent coming at the end of November against Fulham—and have conceded five and six goals, respectively, in their last two matches.

    Saturday’s trip to Cardiff is absolutely crucial for embattled manager Sam Allardyce.

    The Welsh outfit made a managerial change two weeks ago and are just three points above the Hammers in the table.

    Victory would almost certainly buy Allardyce a bit more time at Upton Park; defeat would almost certainly spell the end of his tenure at the club.