Premier League Sack Race: Top 5 Managers in Danger of Following Hodgson Out
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
So, with Liverpool having their worst season in the Premier League thus far, Roy Hodgson has left the club after feeling "depressed" following Pool’s disastrous defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers last week.
Hodgson’s fall from grace is spectacular, having received the LMA Manager of the Year award in May 2010 and being jobless, all in a span of seven months.
An ownership tussle at the beginning of the year, bad injuries to a couple of key players, and some plain rotten football on the pitch had led to the Kop faithful openly demanding the reinstatement of Pool legend Kenny Dalglish, the man who has now eventually succeeded Hodgson at the helm.
After owners at Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers had sacked their managers earlier in the season, it was widely anticipated that Hodgson would be the next manage to receive a pink slip going into the new year.
Having said that, it is almost certain that Hodgson will not be the last Premier League manager to be let go before the season ends. With the season being so topsy-turvy, there are five teams with a realistic chance of winning the league and seven teams with a realistic chance of being relegated.
In other words, we find ourselves in the League today with a pressure-cooker atmosphere allows for an even higher propensity for some high-profile sackings.
Here are the top five managers who should be praying hard that their teams begin to perform soon, or should be planning how to spend their (no doubt substantial) severance pay…
5. Alex McLeish: Birmingham FC
On his way out? McLeish
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Alex McLeish is the legendary player and manager who achieved everything one possibly could in Scotland as manager of the Rangers.
He is also a Birmingham FC favorite who brought the club back into the Premier League from the Championship and led the club to the ninth position in the league in the 2009-2010 season.
Today, unfortunately, he is the manager of a team that is one point above the relegation zone and has won only four games out of 20.
With summer signing Nikola Zigic yet to find his feet in the Premier League, the club has been struggling to score.
Add to that the disastrous (and expensive) acquisition of Alexander Hleb, who has the peculiar habit of choosing to praise his old team Arsenal over his new one, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Things might be looking up for Brum with some funds being made available to buy new players and Robbie Keane’s possible move, but results will be needed, and soon.
Modern football takes a dim and very short term view of failure and it will be unfortunate, but not unsurprising, if we see McLeish being sacked soon by the Birmingham’s powers that be.
4. Carlo Ancelotti: Chelsea FC
Things are not looking good for the Chelsea Manager
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
After the disappointment of Jose Mourinho’s last season, Avram Grant’s dour leadership and the disaster that was Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti infused a breath of fresh air into Chelsea’s expensively assembled entourage of (the last three year’s) bridesmaids.
The players and fans loved the man and he repaid them by winning the double last season.
It looked like history would repeat itself this season too, with Chelsea firing on all cylinders and winning their initial matches by astonishing margins, mauling their opponents in the process.
Then, disaster struck. Somewhat strangely coinciding with the sacking of assistant manager Ray Wilkins, Chelsea have suffered from a incomprehensible loss of form.
From being at top of the table by five points at one stage, Chelsea are now fifth, nine points behind leaders Manchester United, who have a game in hand.
Ancelotti has openly admitted that he has his personal friendship with club owner Roman Abramovich to thank for his continued employment and has set his focus on a top-four finish instead of the title.
But the Russian oil-baron is known for his impatience (cue the sacking of all managers before Ancelotti) and it may only be a matter of time before the Italian is shown the door
3. Mark Hughes: Fulham FC
On his way out?
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Many felt that Mark Hughes was hard done by during his sacking from Manchester City. One suspects that won’t be the case if Mohammed Al Fayed at Fulham gives him the boot.
Riding a wave of sympathy from his unfortunate last days at City, Hughes was supposed to work miracles with a Fulham squad who had done well for themselves last season under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson.
The team is, however, only one point above the relegation zone at the moment and thought by many, including the Craven Cottage faithful, to be under-performing.
Hughes may have the excuse of the lengthy absence of Bobby Zamora as the reason for Fulham’s anemic showing in front of goal, but mot many of his other excuses stand up to scrutiny.
Realistically speaking, it may not be long before those baying for Hughes’ blood have their wish fulfilled.
2. Gerard Houllier: Aston Villa
Ian Walton/Getty Images
If there was one word to describe Gerard Houllier’s current four month reign at Aston Villa, it would be "disaster." Or, make that two words, "absolute disaster."
To show how much Houllier has lost control over the dressing room, I pick this up verbatim from what Robert Pires had to say on soccernet.com: "What's certain is that the two games coming up against Sunderland and Sheffield United in the FA Cup will be very, very decisive for Gerard's future," he said. "It's true [that] it's a bit tense.
Gerard is having trouble getting his message across. He is used to a certain way of working and he arrives with new methods. From what I've understood, there have been several meetings between Gerard and the players who didn't really agree with him."
Gabby Agbanlahor and Stephen Ireland happen to be woefully out of form but Villa, under Houllier, have made some perplexing decisions on the field in terms of player selection and style of play.
As a consequence, all of sudden, the team is in the relegation zone and is steeling itself for a brutal survival battle ahead.
When, (not if), Randy Lerner does finally sack Houllier, Villa fans might be left pondering about "what might have been" after the glory of Martin O’Neill’s last two seasons was made moot by his sudden departure.
1. Avram Grant: West Ham United
Goodbye Mr. Grant
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Well, this one’s a no-brainer. The Hammers have the least points and the worst goal difference in the Premier League at the moment and have remained rooted to the bottom of the table for most of the campaign.
After Gianfranco Zola’s relationship with Messieurs Gold and Sullivan had deteriorated beyond belief at the end of last season, Grant was expected to bring some stability to the club.
But every time the team takes to the pitch, the players look like a reflection of the manager’s visage—dour and lacking any signs of inspiration.
For a fleeting moment, West Ham were out of the relegation zone, but a humiliating 6-0 defeat at the hands of Newcastle last week puts them right where they deservedly belong—at the bottom of the heap.
Besides, Grant’s seeming lack of passion on the sidelines has not made hasn’t helped his cause at all and his alleged visit to a brothel in 2009 hasn’t really done any wonders to his reputation.
Coming soon (and sooner than you think) to a tabloid near you: "Avram Grant Sacked by West Ham!"