This has been an absolutely incredible season so far, with nearly every match being close to impossible to predict. We are 7 weeks into the campaign, and the defending champions Chelsea are in 15th place, while Leicester City, who looked sure-shot favourites for relegation last season but survived, are in 5th having been unbeaten until last Saturday. Even by the Premier League’s standards, there have been some outrageous goings-on this time.
The men in the limelight and, to put it more aptly, in the line of fire, are not really the players but the managers. These heftily-paid well-dressed figures on the touchline take responsibility for how well or otherwise the group of individuals does on the pitch. They experience both extremes – over-glorification in times of success and over-the-top criticism in times of failure.
There are several managers this term who are living on borrowed time, after seeing their sides get off to horrendous starts. Owners and Chairmen of football clubs are hardly too shy to wield the axe nowadays, and want the results of their investments to show immediately.
Here, we look at 5 managers in the Premier League who are staring down the barrel and could be shown the door before Christmas:
1) Brendan Rodgers
The Liverpool manager is very much a favourite to get the boot in the near future unless there is a dramatic turn of fortunes for the Reds on the pitch. The Merseyside derby coming up this weekend looks like it could be the game that makes or breaks the Northern Irishman’s career at Anfield. Big names like Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp have been linked with the job, and are certainly better bets than Rodgers to try and bring Liverpool back to its glory days from 2-3 decades ago.
2) Dick Advocaat
It has been an extraordinary few months at Sunderland. There was the dramatic recovery at the end of last season after Dick Advocaat took over, which saw the Dutchman sign an extension on his deal. He then backtracked and stated his desire to leave. After that came another U-turn, as he decided to stay on at the Stadium of Light. This is a decision that Advocaat may be ruing at the moment, as he sees his side languish at the bottom of the table, already looking sure-shot favourites to be relegated at the end of the season. He has gone public with his criticism of the players in recent games, but the board will certainly not stand for too long if these dismal performances continue.
3) Tim Sherwood
With several exciting young talents at the club and a manager known for his coaching abilities, the 2015/16 season was expected to be an exciting one for Aston Villa. They escaped relegation last year after Sherwood came in, and also reached the FA Cup Final. But, nothing has gone right for the Villans this season, and defeat at the weekend to Liverpool saw them enter the bottom three. The club are not always quick to sack managers, and Sherwood will get some more time to try and turn it around. But, if results do not improve until Christmas, he will be in a very precarious position indeed.
4) Steve McClaren
The Englishman seemed to have banished the ghosts of his nightmare as England coach back in 2008, with an extremely successful stint in Holland with FC Twente. He then came back and did equally well in the Championship with Derby County. So, unsurprisingly, there was a lot of anticipation around St. James’ Park when he was appointed as the replacement to John Carver, under whom the Magpies had clinched survival last season by the skin of their teeth. McClaren though, is yet to win a single game in the Premier League this season, and Newcastle are floundering in 19th place. 2 of the 3 points they have won have come against Manchester United and Chelsea, which means that they have struggled against teams in and around them. They put in a fantastic performance in the first-half at the weekend against Jose Mourinho’s champions, but need to kick on from that and start winning games.
5) Jose Mourinho
Well, dare I say it? If this was any other manager, we would have already been talking about his sacking. Roman Abramovich has always been quick to sack under-performing managers, but Mourinho is a different case. The Portuguese led Chelsea to their first league title in 5 years last season, but has seen his team go on an incredible decline since. They are currently in 14th place in the table, having won just 2 of their opening 7 games.
Mourinho is hanging on at the moment, but has come under the radar for some extremely questionable team selection decisions of late, like that of Branislav Ivanovic’s inclusion in the side. Last night’s defeat to Porto in the Champions League has seen them enter a real fight for qualification from the group stages of the Champions League, and any slip-ups in that competition could well be the final straw.