Which Premier League Manager Will Be Sacked First in 2017?

Sam Pilger@sampilgerContributing Football WriterDecember 26, 2016

West Ham United's Croatian manager Slaven Bilic awaits kick-off in the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Hull City at The London Stadium, in east London on December 17, 2016. / AFP / Glyn KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

In September 2015, I met Alan Pardew in his office at Crystal Palace's training ground as he told me about his grand plans for the club. 

Looking out across the empty training pitches, he talked about his desire to forever banish any relegation fears from Palace and move them up the Premier League table. 

"I am more comfortable with the team, they understand what I want," Pardew said. "I think it can deliver in more than 12 games a season...I would like to think we could get around the Europa League places."

Fifteen months later, Crystal Palace are sitting 17th in the Premier League and Pardew will be sitting at home over the Christmas period after being sacked last week. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Alan Pardew, Manager of Crystal Palace walks towards the tunnel after the final whistle during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on November 19, 2016 in London, England.  (P
Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Memories of Palace's run to the FA Cup final this year could not save Pardew or obscure the full horror of their league form in 2016.

This year Palace have won just six of their 36 league games and are bottom of the form table for the calendar year, 11 points adrift of Swansea City.

The £30 million signing of Christian Benteke should have been Palace's insurance policy against any relegation fears, and though the Belgium striker has been a success, at the same time the Eagles' defence has been responsible for the third-worst record in the league.

As Palace continued to leak goals and lose eight of their last 10 league games, the club's board had no choice but to bring to an end Pardew's two years at Selhurst Park.

Which Premier League manager will now be the first to lose his job in 2017? 

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14:  Bob Bradley, manager of Swansea City looks on during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City at The Hawthorns on December 14, 2016 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Ge
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

After Pardew's departure, the bookmakers' favourite is Swansea City's Bob Bradley, who has only been in the role since the start of October.

Swansea's 5-4 victory over Palace last month ultimately cost Pardew his job, but this remains one of only two victories Bradley has managed in his first 10 games. 

That dramatic victory was supposed to revive Swansea's fortunes, but Bradley has since seen his team lose heavily three times, and they now sit 19th in the table on the same points as bottom side Hull City.

A controversial successor to Francesco Guidolin, the American might not remain in south Wales too much longer if this continues.

Swansea have problems at both ends of the pitch, which Bradley has so far been unable to address; they are poor in attack, a quarter of their goals came in that one game against Palace, while they have conceded a total of 37 goals, a rate of more than two every game.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: David Moyes, Manager of Sunderland reacts during the Premier League match between Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion at Stadium of Light on October 1, 2016 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Swansea have three winnable games over the Christmas period against West Ham United, Bournemouth and Palace again, and so a failure to add to their points tally could see Bradley's reign brought to a quick end.

After just four wins from his first 17 games, David Moyes is well aware he is also vulnerable at Sunderland.

The Wearside club have traditionally shown no hesitation in changing their manager midseason to save themselves from relegation.

During each of the last four seasons, Sunderland have appointed a new manager: Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce.

There will be another new manager during the course of this season if Moyes cannot lift Sunderland out of their position in the bottom three.

At the moment Sunderland have managed to recover from their worst start after 10 games in Premier League history by winning four of their last seven matches.

The presence of Jermain Defoe, scorer of eight league goals so far this season, will give Moyes the belief that he can take Sunderland towards the safety of mid-table. 

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  Jermain Defoe of Sunderland celebrates scoring his sides first goal with team mates during the Premier League match between Southampton and Sunderland at St Mary's Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Ph
Michael Steele/Getty Images

But Moyes was surprised to learn there would be only limited funds to continue this run and add to his squad in the January transfer window.

"Managing Sunderland always had an appeal to me but, if I'd known about the financial situation, I'd have needed to look at it in a different way," he said, as reported by the Guardian.

"I'd have had to have thought a lot more about taking the job. I didn't see us having no money in January. I'm disappointed I won't be able to do some work in January and build on what we've done so far."

These are the words of a man who knows the coming months will be difficult and who might not make it to the end of the season.

West Ham United's Croatian manager Slaven Bilic gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Hull City at The London Stadium, in east London on December 17, 2016. / AFP / Glyn KIRK / RESTRICTED TO
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

A narrow and fortuitous 1-0 win for West Ham United over Hull on December 17 relieved some of the pressure on their manager, Slaven Bilic. 

But overall this has been a highly disappointing season for West Ham, and their problems are likely soon to be back.

There is a sense of panic and gloom hanging over West Ham at the moment, for they expected so much more this season.

The move to the new London Stadium has had its own problems, while on the pitch West Ham have not come close to playing with the same zest and flair as last season.

Bilic will know his future depends on solving their goalscoring problems; so far this season they have managed just 19 goals in the league, even less than Palace and Swansea. 

The prospect of filling the new stadium in the Championship will trouble the West Ham hierarchy and keep Bilic at risk until he puts more distance between the team and the relegation zone.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Sean Dyche, Manager of Burnley gestures during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Burnley at Bet365 Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

At the moment, Burnley are only three points above the relegation zone themselves, but Sean Dyche is ensconced at Turf Moor having already survived taking them down in 2015. 

Dyche has also twice won promotion to the Premier League with the Clarets, and if they went down again this season, he would be backed to do it for a third time. 

After investing so little in their squad to stay in the Premier League, bottom-placed Hull might be resigned to their fate, which could see them stick with Mike Phelan, at least until the end of the season.

Champions Leicester City are 15th, but this title-winning squad is too good to continue to flirt with relegation, which will ultimately keep Claudio Ranieri safe in the new year. 

It is Moyes and Bradley who should be most concerned, but if a nervous West Ham slump again over the Christmas period, Bilic could be the first manager to lose his job in the new year.

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