Hot Seat Watch for World Football Players, Coaches Ahead of Weekend August 29-31
As the 2014-15 season really cranks into gear, some familiar faces are already getting questions asked of them based on their performances in the new campaign.
Others are still trying to answer the questions that have been posed to them over the summer or dating back to last season, needing to use this term as a springboard to get back to their best, whether on the sidelines or on the pitch itself.
Here is our weekly look at which players and bosses are in the hot seat after recent indifferent results or displays.
Louis Van Gaal
Pre-season might have gone well, but the new season hasn't so far.
Manchester United lost on the opening day under Louis van Gaal and have since followed that up with a draw to Sunderland, a squad threatened with relegation last season. Van Gaal's side then had a dismal showing in a 4-0 thumping by League One outfit MK Dons in the League Cup second round.
Van Gaal has time on his side and a shiny, new record signing to call upon in Angel Di Maria, but this kind of performance or result won't be tolerated forever, regardless of his name.
Real Madrid's previously undroppable No. 1, Iker Casillas endured a nightmare 18 months as he lost his place in the side and then put in a poor performance at the World Cup.
This season, however, he has started in the Super Cup, the European Super Cup and the opening match of La Liga, with Keylor Navas remaining on the bench. It's fair to say, though, that Casillas has not impressed, his performance against Cordoba at the weekend leaving much to be desired.
Carlo Ancelotti is showing faith by playing him in the league, but form, not faith, will dictate whether he stays there.
Sergio Ramos' horrific spell of form in the centre of defence can't be helping Casillas, either.
Ramos also struggled during the World Cup, and that form has spilled over into the new season. Ramos put in a very uncertain display against Cordoba and was dominated at times by the imposing (but journeyman) striker Mike Havenaar.
Real have competition for places in defence with Raphael Varane on the sidelines, so Ramos needs to up his game too.
It's been a woeful start for Ronny Deila as Celtic boss.
Celtic have now been knocked out of the Champions League twice—reinstated once—after losing at home to Slovenian outfit Maribor at home on Tuesday night.
He also suffered a first SPL defeat against the mighty Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the weekend.
There's not really much more to say.
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has long been looked upon as the man to build the side around, but he has been marginalised by his own lack of progress and the upturn in consistency, fitness and form of Aaron Ramsey.
Wilshere now must rely on a tactical switch in Arsenal's midfield to get a game in, or he will end up playing out of position or, worse, staying on the bench.
He has started the season in indifferent form and, with Ramsey suspended for the all-important Champions League qualifier against Besiktas, really needs to show his worth and get back to what should be his best level.
Jonny Evans looked certain to figure prominently for Manchester United this season as one of three central defenders, but injury prevented him playing in the league early on, and his return to action went horribly.
Captain for the side in their League Cup matchup against MK Dons, a team in the third tier of English football, Evans' performance was strewn with errors and resulted in four goals being put past his side.
As Chris Waugh of the Daily Mail put it:
Captain for the night Jonny Evans could not have put in a worse display.
The first goal was definitely his fault as - under no real pressure whatsoever - he casually passed the ball directly to Samir Carruthers, who played in Grigg to open the scoring. Evans also went missing for the second goal - as did the whole defence - and continued to be caught out of position in the second half.
As captain, Evans was expected to lead the young side to victory but instead his indecisiveness and wastefulness in position caused his team-mates to become nervous. Not the way to introduce yourself to a new manager. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
AC Milan get their Serie A campaign off and running at the weekend, with new boss and former striking legend Pippo Inzaghi at the helm.
Milan play Lazio at home on Sunday, with Inzaghi already under pressure to prove his worth. He has been thrust into the job without a previous senior role in management.
Milan's squad remains substandard, and pre-season results were an indication of such, to an extent. Time to show what he's capable of.
Part of Milan's big failings over the past few seasons is their woeful work in the transfer market.
While the young midfielder looks a positive step, Torres is a £50 million striker who has managed a paltry 20 league goals in three-and-a-half seasons with the Blues. Is a switch to Serie A going to reinvigorate him? Will 10 or a dozen goals—that would be his best return since 09/10—be enough to send Milan far enough up the table?
We might soon get the chance to see.
Iker Casillas' fall from grace is well-documented; less so that of Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, though his World Cup "exploits" brought them to light somewhat.
Formerly an aggressive stopper who would rush impetuously, though effectively, off his line and dominate his area, Akinfeev is now perpetually stuck inside his six-yard box and has no presence whatsoever. Even his athletic shot-stopping ability seems to have deserted him.
At the weekend, CSKA Moscow lost 2-1 to Rubin Kazan, with Akinfeev beaten by a close-range header which he attempted to stop with a strange, uncomfortable-looking pirouette jump and a low shot to the far post that the keeper should have dealt far better with.
The former AC Milan striker checked in at Liverpool this week and is likely to make his Reds debut against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. With the Reds suffering a defeat against champions Manchester City on Monday night, they'll be looking to Balotelli to contribute to a positive result this time around.
Balotelli's antics, the good and the bad, are so well noted every time he takes to the pitch that he is always under pressure to perform. Making his debut, that will only be increased.