Football is a law unto itself on many levels. Every weekend grown men and women travel the length and breadth of the country, many with more than a nagging doubt their day will end in heartbreak and crushing dejection.
It is a sport where players are paid tens of thousands of pounds a week to train a handful of times before sitting on the bench and watching the game.
It is also a world in which people discuss, bet money on and demand from the terraces the sacking of managers on an almost weekly basis. We are only in the early stages of the new EPL season, but already names are being mooted for the sack. So, turning the usual arguments on their heads, which managers in England’s top tier are safest in their current role?
Gone by Christmas?
Let’s start with those who we can quickly dismiss as being on anything approaching safe ground. Javi Gracia and Steve Bruce, at Watford and Newcastle respectively, appear to be predestined to lose their jobs first. Both work for notoriously trigger happy bosses, and though Bruce will perhaps have longer to get his feet under the table unless Gracia’s side start to pick up points fast the first manager to have his contract extended at Vicarage Road under the Pozzo family’s watch could soon be packing his bags.
Much of the talk preseason was around Lampard and Solskjær. Though both have hardly got off to flying starts, it is unlikely that either will be off down the road before the new year, unless they have a truly catastrophic run of results.
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Lampard – a club legend – has his hands tied financially, and has a remit to bring up the young players. Even Roman Abramovich must realise that is not something that can be done overnight. It’s a different story at Old Trafford, the honeymoon period is well and truly over. The Norwegian is going to be under more and more scrutiny, but the powers that be at Old Trafford will want to avoid being accused of knee jerk reactions – either in their decision to appoint him or indeed to terminate his 3-year contract.
The likes of Brendan Rogers at Leicester and Everton’s Marco Silva, from the outside at least, have a tough task when it comes to determining just what constitutes success or failure. They will be aiming for the top six and with a couple of members of the perennial big six struggling somewhat, that goal is certainly not beyond them. But is a failure to achieve that really a sackable offence? Unlikely, especially if there is deemed to be an improvement.
There are, of course, problems for owners and fans alike that come with too successful a stint in the manager’s seat. Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe fall into the category of being almost bulletproof from a sacking but are ideal candidates to be tempted to a team with a larger budget.
Pochettino is the same, having gone on record stating that had Spurs won the Champions League he may well have stepped down this summer. Early signs suggest Graham Potter at Brighton has already changed the team’s mentality and could be poached before being called into the chairman’s office for his P45.
Those sure to be there next summer
Newly promoted sides are often a safe bet for a managerial casualty before the festive season is upon us, but this year all three appear relatively secure, albeit for different reasons. Naturally, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola won’t be going anywhere soon, but apart from those obvious ones who else can we almost guarantee will be here this time next season? Two spring to mind.
The Arsenal board’s loyalty to Arsene Wenger splits their fan base. Unai Emery may not have eliminated all of his predecessor’s failings, but there were signs that (at home at least) he was starting to mould a decent side that could win things, even if those things are “only” cup competitions. It is very unlikely the board will run out of patience and rip up the project any time soon.
The other manager is Nuno. Along with the title race, his Wolves side were the other major story last season. For a team in their first year back in the big time, they equipped themselves incredibly well. Much has been written about the ownership situation at Molineux, but whatever its merits or otherwise, without the talismanic figure in the dugout it is all for nothing. This year his side have a very real chance of a top-six finish and the former Portuguese ‘keeper will be going nowhere until they achieve it.