Firing Squad: The Most Under-Pressure Managers from Europe's Top 5 Leagues
There are two debutants in front of the firing squad this week. Their sides have posted only two wins apiece so far this season and are either in, or perilously close to, the relegation zones in their respective leagues.
As the winter break approaches on the continent and the jam-packed holiday fixture list draws near in the United Kingdom, the decision-makers at every one of the five clubs in question will no doubt be pondering a managerial change in the next few weeks.
The accompanying slideshow will reveal those five clubs—and the managers on the hot seat at each of them.
Chris Hughton, Norwich City
An encouraging 3-1 win at home to West Ham United just prior to the international break was followed by a 2-1 loss away to Newcastle United, and heading into the weekend's match against Crystal Palace, 16th-place Norwich City could find themselves in the drop zone if results don't go their way on Saturday and Sunday.
To make matters worse, embattled Canaries manager Chris Hughton faces an injury crisis at Carrow Road, and misfiring striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel has done little to justify his status as the club's record signing.
It will display considerable staying power if Hughton is still in his job at Christmas.
Pepe Mel, Real Betis
It's already somewhat surprising that Pepe Mel is still in his job.
With Real Betis dead last in La Liga heading into last weekend's local derby against Sevilla, Mel's side came out on the wrong end of a 4-0 trouncing and have now taken just one point from their last seven matches in the Spanish top flight.
Betis will host second-to-last Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, and a defeat would almost certainly spell the end for Mel at Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Christian Streich, Freiburg
Some decent results in November have likely kept Christian Streich in charge at struggling Freiburg, although with just two wins from 13 matches, the Bundesliga side are 16th in the table coming into Sunday's match away to Borussia Monchengladbach.
Freiburg's December schedule is a difficult one, with matches against Wolfsburg and Schalke upcoming and a visit from Bayer Leverkusen welcoming them back from the winter break.
Streich, who has been employed at the club in various capacities since 1995, was appointed manager in 2011, but to ensure Freiburg's survival in the German top flight, a change may be necessary in the next few weeks.
Massimiliano Allegri, AC Milan
They may have won 3-0 at Celtic in the Champions League on Tuesday, but going into the weekend, AC Milan are winless in five in Serie A—good for 13th place in the division.
Massimiliano Allegri's side have also struggled for offense in recent matches, with just two goals from their last four outings.
But a trip to last-place Calcio Catania could be just the tonic for the Rossoneri manager. That, or a final nail in his coffin.
Sam Allardyce, West Ham United
It's hard to believe West Ham United came in 10th in the Premier League last season.
So far in 2013-14, they have won just twice, and following last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, they have tasted victory just once since August.
Saturday's opponent—Fulham—are presently in the relegation zone but level with 17th-place West Ham on 10 points from 12 matches.
Another loss would see West Ham leapfrogged by the Cottagers and manager Sam Allardyce faced with increasing pressure going into December.