Liverpool beat Burnley 4-0 this afternoon to end the Clarets' Premier League adventure. With West Ham United’s win over Wigan Athletic yesterday, Hull City are all but relegated as well.
Both these sides changed their manager during the course of the season, and both have lost their fight for survival.
Interestingly, the two teams immediately above the relegation zone both stuck with their respective bosses, despite heavy pressure for the axe to fall during the campaign.
Does this prove that sticking with your manager is the best strategy for survival?
Possibly. Doubters may well point at Bolton Wanderers, a team that disposed of Gary Megson while in the drop zone and currently sit in 14th position under Owen Coyle.
A fair point, but Bolton did have two games in hand over their rivals at the time of Coyle’s appointment.
Coyle himself had led Burnley to a good start in the Premier League before jumping ship to replace Megson.
Would Burnley be in the top flight next season if Coyle had stayed? Nobody can say, but the Clarets have only won twice in the league under Brian Laws.
At the other end of the table, Mark Hughes was sacked at Manchester City. Roberto Mancini came in to replace the Welshman and his side currently sit in sixth position, admittedly only a point behind Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur for fourth.
Their destiny is in their own hands, as they play both teams before the season is up, but if City fail to get fourth, would that be more evidence that sacking the manager doesn’t work?
Or is it that these clubs have simply hired the wrong man? Laws was appointed after a consultancy firm found him to be the most efficient with a transfer budget (he collects the most points per every pound spent), but then he wasn’t given anything to spend!
Hull City showed Phil Brown the door (he is currently on ‘gardening leave’) and hired a football management consultant in Iain Dowie, who has had a hand in multiple Premier League relegations.
Not the most astute move.
In Manchester City’s case, the jury is still out, but even if Mancini does manage to scramble into fourth position, you’d have to say that if a club spends as much as Manchester City then you’d expect them to blow the competition away.
The Citizens seem to be limping to the finish line; a better manager would have already had the final Champions League spot sewn up.
Still, for once loyalty to the manager has so far been rewarded this season. So often in the past giving a struggling manager his marching orders mid-season has paid dividends.
Just another quirk in a bizarre Premier League season.