Okay, so it’s a bit premature, but we’ve seen managers depart their clubs pretty early in a season previously and we might see that again this year. As the finances rise further in the world’s most lucrative league, the boards’ trigger fingers become all the more sensitive.
Several of the league’s top bosses are under pressure after last season and many in the midriff of the league are a poor run of form away from the painfully predictable ‘vote of confidence’. Some newly appointed managers could equally end up being handed their P45 in the next few weeks too, especially those at clubs who change managers as frequently as their bed sheets.
Mike Ashley Will Put Rafa Benitez Under Pressure
The favourite to be packing his belongings into a cardboard box is Rafa Benitez. The Spaniard is at 13/4 to be first out of the door, and much of this is backed by the rumours of his discontent with the transfer situation at St James’ Park.
The Magpies have had an underwhelming window to date. Central defender Florian Lejeune, attacking midfielder Jacob Murphy and right-back Javi Manquillo are the main arrivals, but few expect that to be enough to produce sufficient results for an expectant, partisan Geordie faithful.
Benitez has been anticipated to leave the club from almost the day he arrived, mind, and that price looks a little short at the moment. Yes, there’s always turbulence in the northeast, but Benitez has shown staying power that should at least get him to Christmas on their return to the Premier League.
Slaven Bilic And Mark Hughes Are Also In Danger
Second in the running is West Ham’s Slaven Bilic. Bilic was equivalent to a messiah in his debut season in east London, but a poor campaign last time around has him under pressure.
That pressure is cranked up with the hefty investment in readymade players this summer and the 9/2 price suddenly looks pretty good value. Should the Hammers not fire from the off, questions will quickly be asked of one of football’s most likeable men.
In third place in the unwanted sack race, 888Sport has Mark Hughes. Hughes’ Stoke City suffered a down year in 2016/17 as a poor beginning and quiet end to the campaign saw them slump to their lowest league finish in several years and worst in the Hughes era.
A changing of the style at the Bet365 Stadium has been as good as forgotten, and the loss of key man Marko Arnautovic only dampens the mood around the Potteries ahead of the opening weekend. Hughes is 6/1 to be the first manager to depart, which is a price well worthy of attention given Stoke’s tough early fixtures.
Antonio Conte Is Worth Backing At 12/1
The real value in this market, though, is on the Manager of the Year and Champions’ boss, Antonio Conte. Out at 12/1, the Italian appears comfortable odds-wise, but all is not right at Stamford Bridge.
A perilously thin squad, missed transfer targets and a suspicious new contract without an extension have added fuel to an already bright fire that Conte will be gone in the not so distant future.
He has supposedly come close to quitting the club earlier this summer, too, and Chelsea are no strangers to sacking managers soon after great successes... just ask Roberto di Matteo, Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho.