Where Will the Managerial Axe Fall First in EPL?
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As a Manchester City fan I am used to seeing my team's manager close to the top of any "next manager to be fired" list, irrespective of what time of year you look.
There will, no doubt, be many pundits talking about the pressure from Abu Dhabi, etc., and that that will mean Roberto Mancini will not see out the season at City. I personally think he will do more than the minimum to keep his job.
The pressure in my mind will be on the managers of the teams less likely to be challenging for the title, and it is in part because there are very few top class managers looking for a new challenge.
Who, for example, would replace Mancini at City? For the last couple of seasons, the talk has been of Jose Mourinho, but he is set for at least one more season at Real Madrid.
Chelsea found the same problem when looking to fill the vacant manager's job once they had fired Carlo Ancelotti. In the end, they surprised many by bringing in fresh young talent.
The same cannot be said for managers considered to be below the very top level.
Surely it cannot be good for managers such as Neil Warnock, Steve Kean and Steve Bruce to be thinking about building a team slowly when the likes of Martin O'Neil and Mark Hughes are still unemployed?
There seems little doubt that working on a shoestring budget no longer offers any real degree of job security. Owners and directors of football clubs apparently see a lack of success as solely a manager's problem and often ignore the fact that they fail to back any moves in the transfer market.
That doesn't seem to be the case at Norwich City, however, where they seem to appreciate the talents of a young manager who has worked wonders, Paul Lambert.
Norwich City don't like to sack managers either, as they are still a tight, family-oriented club with local and long-term supporters on the board such as Stephen Fry and Delia Smith who bring glamour rather than seek it.
Blackburn are not the same, though, and it surely won't be helpful to Steve Kean's long-term plans when the club's parent company, Venky's, are already talking of Champions League within two seasons.
Unlike Premier League newcomers Swansea and Norwich, expectations at Blackburn seem more than a little out of kilter, and unless they significantly improve their squad with perhaps seven or eight quality additions, a season flirting with relegation is in the offing.
That said, I see Steve Kean managing to hold onto his job at least until Easter, as the cost of firing him will mean the board will hold off pulling the trigger.
There does seem to be one particular manager who will suffer from a Damoclesian twitch more than any other, however, as his bosses don't appear to have a full grasp on Premier League reality. That man is Neil Warnock.
Warnock has seemed to me to be a square peg in a round hole at Loftus Road.
Multi-billionaire owners with a penchant for name dropping and used to Formula One are now up in the rarefied atmosphere of the Premier League, but their manager is a straight-talking Yorkshireman who is far from a glossy pin-up as could be. (No offense, Neil.)
I would expect Warnock to be looking over his shoulder from the very start of the season and even if he were to get QPR into a comfortable mid-table that will likely only encourage his owners to be more unrealistic in their demands.
I see QPR really struggling, and with relatively limited resources I predict that, sadly, Warnock will be the first man looking for a new job and that it will happen before Christmas.
The fact that I think Warnock will be fired doesn't mean he isn't a good manager or, indeed, the right man for QPR. He just isn't the right man for the QPR board.
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