The Sack Race

by Kevin Coleman
Football - Manchester City v Bolton Wanderers Barclays Premier League

Every close season leading up to the new campaign there is usually a flurry of betting on which manager will be first to bite the dust at their club during the season. Wagering on who’ll be saying “so long, see yeah later, mind the door doesn’t hit you on the way out” first. It’s easy to look at the bottom clubs, the ones who will be struggling, but the dead favourite to finish an unwanted first place in The Sack Race is lying at the top half of the table.

When your club is owned by a multi-billionaire hungry for success, there’s the added pressure that if you don’t start winning the second you walk in the door you’ll be scratched off the list and replaced by the next big coach money can buy. Why not ask Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, or maybe Phil Scolari? That’s how Mark Hughes must be feeling at the moment at Manchester City. The ex-Blackburn boss is a bright young manager destined for success, but the impatience of the Arab owners who took over the club last August may get the better of him.

The fact that every bookie has him favourite to get the boot first shows the history of managerial reigns at clubs that have been taken over by billionaire businessme, with Chelsea a prime example as mentioned above. Hughes has spent big this summer; he’s handed Arsenal over £35million for Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor, paid out £25million for Carlos Tevez and spent £18million or so on Roque Santa Cruz. Not to mention Gareth Barry earlier on in the summer. All this money going towards a stronger squad may cause havoc if results doesn’t go their way, and Sparky will be job seeking for the first time since becoming a manager. Fortunately for Hughes, he has enough credentials to pick up another big job within the Premier League.

I’ll have to disagree with the bookies on this one however. I think the Abu Dhabi billionaires who made City the richest club in the world will give Hughes time, despite how results go – given they’re not in a relegation fight come November. The difference with Chelsea and City when they were taken over is Chelsea could develop their squad over two seasons and were winning as soon as Jose Mourinho was appointed. City on the other hand have a far longer development period to go through. City were a mid-table team at best when Thaksin Shinawatra took over – and it’ll take more than a two years to take them to the top.

For me Portsmouth boss Paul Hart will get the chop first. In the last two transfer windows they’ve sold the nucleus of what was a good squad. Midfield general Lassana Diarra to Real Madrid. They sold Jermain Defoe – their main source of goals – to Spurs. Peter Crouch joined him there last week. Glen Johnson went to Liverpool earlier this summer, while Sean Davis has gone to Bolton. The mass exodus will lead to the inevitable kick out the door for Paul Hart, as it’s a certainty they will struggle next year. With rumours of another Arab takeover, they’ll want to get in the best manager (Sven was linked during the summer) and if the takoever goes through sooner rather than later Hart will find himself out of a job.

Also at the bottom half of the table I’d be worried if I was Phil Brown. Hull started off superbly last season, going unbeaten in their first nine games. After that they only managed two wins all season. I’m sure you can recall Brown keeping them on the field at half time for the team talk. That triggered a poor run from November to May without a single win – and when they narrowly avoided relegation Brown sung a celebratory song with the fans after the game. If things continue like that Brown and his tunes will be out the door.

But who’s assured a job for the season? Definately Alex Ferguson – can you imagine him getting sacked? I can’t see Harry Redknapp, Martin O’ Neill, Roy Hodgson, Rafa Benitez, Arsene Wenger or David Moyes getting the boot either. For the newly promoted sides, it’s easy to imagine any of them leaving if things go badly – but not a dead cert. Tony Pulis of Stoke will be under pressure to continue last season’s form, but the chairman is 100% behind him. Roberto Martinez has just joined Wigan, while Steve Bruce has just joined Sunderland, so they should both last the season at least. Sam Allardyce and Gary Megson will both be under severe pressure if they struggle, while it’s impossible to predict how things will go for Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea. However I can’t look past Paul Hart or Phil Brown to be clearing their desk first.

First to be sacked in previous seasons:

  • Juande Ramos, 25th October, 08/09
  • Jose Mourinho, 20th September, 07/08
  • Iain Dowie, 13th November, 06/07

4 Responses

  1. pickarooney says:

    I’ve seen Hughes at joint-fourth to get the boot on several sites. What’s the source here?

  2. Kevin Coleman Kevin Coleman says:

    Hughes was top for quite a while, it seems Paul Hart is favourite around the place now.

  3. Ollie Kav says:

    I think Paul Hart will be the first as well. They would be crazy to sack Hughes just as he has been given this almost new team.

    Ancelotti could be interesting as well if Chelsea don’t perform.

  4. Gary says:

    Phil Brown got out of jail last season. His signings have not inspired confidence over the summer. A definite contender imo.

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