Premier League boards are beginning to plan for next season. Well, at some clubs anyway. At the top and bottom of the table we are seeing tight competition to avoid relegation and finish inside the top four, which is ratchetting up the pressure on the managers. The financial rewards for remaining in the top flight, particularly, are vast and managers who put that at risk are putting their own job in peril.
Swansea have already moved Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley on this season, though they have found some respite from struggle under Paul Clement. Hull sacked Mike Phelan to appoint Marco Silva, who is doing similarly well, while Crystal Palace gave Alan Pardew his P45 to bring in Sam Allardyce (who is not doing so well).
It may seem a little late to be changing the man in the top job, but that doesn’t make any manager safe…
Midweek cup success over Derby had the potential to be a turning point for Claudio Ranieri and Leicester City. Their ineffective display and 2-0 defeat against Swansea quashed any hopes of that, however.
That is now five straight league defeats without finding the net for Leicester. Only one point ahead of the much improved Hull, who occupy the final relegation place, the Foxes are on course to be the first reigning champions relegated in over 50 years.
Ranieri is the clear favourite to face the sack at odds of 1/2. The footballing romantic may find it kneejerk and harsh, but its hard to see Leicester sticking with their club hero unless performances turn around within the next couple of matches.
Middlesbrough kept their impressive defensive record intact with a 0-0 draw at home to Everton, but a single point does little to help them in the relegation fight, particularly with the form Swansea are showing. Now without a league victory in eight matches, Karanka is understandably under pressure to change his approach as victories become key.
Other options for Middlesbrough are limited, mind. Karanka has moulded this squad, they are accustomed to playing how he demands. A managerial change for Middlesbrough, perhaps more than any other club, would be a risk at this point.
That does little to secure his future, however, even if he is comfortable second favourite at 4/1.
Crystal Palace’s victory over Bournemouth really does like look a false dawn. Following their humiliation at home to Sunderland last weekend, the Eagles were limited in attack by Stoke City to fall to a frustrating 1-0 defeat.
Wilfried Zaha was the bright spark for Allardyce’s side – as many would expect – but results desperately need to turn around. Allardyce may have lost his firefighting touch, if so, Palace must replace him to have any chance of safety. The trademark organisation of Allardyce’s previous teams is lacking and they are not taking advantage of the talented attacking options at their disposal.
As short as 10/1 with 888 Sport to be the next manager sacked, Allardyce is under severe threat of being shown the door despite his recent appointment.