Which Premiership Manager will be next to leave their post?
Here we are, only in December, not even halfway through the 38 game season and amazingly already a quarter of the teams in the Premier League have made a change to the manager of their club.
Crystal Palace were the first to act as they only gave Frank De Boer only 77 days as their manager, sacking him after just four league games and they replaced him with Roy Hodgson.
Leicester City relieved Craig Shakespeare of his duties in October, after just eight games of the season. This was despite his influence in keeping Leicester up in the 2016/17 campaign and they bought in Claude Puel. October also saw Everton part ways with Ronald Koeman, who led them to seventh place last season. A plethora of new signings in the summer could not prevent a horrendous start to this season. Everton have recently named Sam Allardyce as Koeman’s successor. Slaven Bilic, despite being backed by the board at West Ham United in October, was given his P45 just two weeks later at the start of November and in came David Moyes. Finally, West Bromwich Albion halted Tony Pulis’ reign on November 20th after twelve league games without a win, and Alan Pardew took over at the helm.
So who could be the next manager out of work, lets take a look at some possible candidates to either resign or be sacked.
Paul Clement (Swansea City)
In the 2016/17 season, Paul Clement came in to takeover at Swansea, replacing Bob Bradley. Clement proved to be a breath of fresh air for the club and kept them up. The team had a level of composure that we had not seen from them earlier on in the campaign. Now in the 2017/18 season, Clement is finding life much more complex being in charge of the club from the start of a season for the first time.
After 16 games, Swansea lay second from bottom in the league. They have only scored nine goals thus far, which is the lowest in the division. Nine goals is one less than Crystal Palace’s ten scored, and Palace failed to score in their opening seven league games, further emphasizing Swansea’s struggles. The departures this summer of their two most important players has obviously been detrimental. Fernando Llorente (now with Tottenham) was last season’s top scorer with 15 league goals, and Gylfi Sigurdsson (now with Everton) led them in assists with 13 in the league and he also added 9 goals. Tammy Abraham, (on loan to Swansea from Chelsea) has shown some glimpses of his ability, but he is still young at 20, and this is his first season in the top flight. With Abraham still maturing, a lot relies on the returning Wilfred Bony to remain consistent throughout the season, Bony scoring in both of his last two outings will give Clement some optimism.
Swansea have only conceded 18 goals which is the best defensive record in the bottom half of the table, the issue they have is scoring goals, and that is obviously what they need to survive. Swansea have only been able to muster 30 shots on target this season, which is by far the lowest in the league, and they average 8.9 shots per game which is the the joint second lowest (Source; whoscored.com). The board as it stands are ‘backing’ Clement. The Swansea officials told BBC Sport Wales that owners Stephen Kaplan and Jason Levien are behind him and will give Clement funds in January to strengthen the squad, (Source: bbc.co.uk). In this day and age in football unfortunately patience wears thinner than ever as Slaven Bilic found out at West Ham.
Saturday’s win over West Bromwich Albion was a massive result, but Clement still remains under pressure. If Clement can make it to January, he will need to make good additions that can impact straightaway. He will also hope that the form of midfielder Renato Sanches (on loan from Bayern Munich) picks up.
Mark Hughes (Stoke City)
Some may sympathise with Mark Hughes, bad injuries to key players has blighted his time at Stoke. In addition to that, his predecessor Tony Pulis did not play a heavily attractive style of football and that dark cloud still looms over Hughes though Pulis left Stoke in 2013.
After being thrashed 5-1 by Tottenham, Stoke have now leaked the most amount of goals in the league with 35 conceded after 16 games. Hughes has decided to permanently go with three central defenders for more protection and to say it has not worked is an understatement. Hughes letting central midfielder Gianelli Imbula go on loan to Toulouse has not seemed like the wisest decision, as he could have supplied better cover in front of their centre halves. Though he has not necessarily played badly, some younger legs may be needed so they can rotate veteran midfielder Darren Fletcher, who was brought in on a free transfer. Fletcher’s central midfield partner Joe Allen tends to drive forward whenever possible and Hughes needs to find a way to stop teams breaching his side in the middle of the park and getting amongst their defence. Factors for Stoke’s start to season, can also be said to be the departure of Marko Arnautovic (West Ham) and the losses of the experienced trio of Glen Whelan (Aston Villa), Jonathan Walters and Phil Bardsley (both Burnley).
Stoke won a huge early season ‘six pointer’ against Swansea on November 25th, where a defeat may have plunged Hughes into a corner he could not get out of concerning his job. With games coming up later in December at home to West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion, then away to Huddersfield, these are teams that Stoke have to pick up points against. Sentiment has long left the football world, and Stoke just like any other side wish to stay in the Premier League due to the immense financial benefits. For instance, Sunderland finished bottom of the Premier League in the 2016/17 but due to the increased revenue and the huge money Premier League teams receive from television rights, they amazingly received more prize money than Bayern Munich who won the Bundesliga title in Germany. Hughes needs a change of fortune and fast.
Rafa Benitez (Newcastle United)
If Rafa Benitez had left his post as Newcastle manager at the start of the season, many would not have been astonished. A chaotic summer loomed after Newcastle were raided by the HMRC in an investigation over possible illegal transfer dealings in April. Benitez surprised many by taking the Newcastle job back at the end of the 2015/16 season, where unfortunately he did not have enough games to save them from relegation. Benitez, again shocked many by staying with the club in the Championship and he went on to lead them to promotion by winning the title. Chairman Mike Ashley, in May, then gave Benitez and managing director Lee Charnley his word that he will give Benitez the money needed to help secure Newcastle’s bid to avoid relegation again. In the statement Ashley stated, “I’ve confirmed to Rafa and Lee (Charnley) that they can have every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales and other means in order to build for next season”, (Source: theguardian.com).
Though Benitez had clearly been sold a dream by Ashley he did not walk from his job as some assumed he would, some fans still viewed that it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened. A mammoth change looks to be on the horizon, as back on October 16th, Ashley confirmed that he was putting the club up for sale. The leading candidate to emerge in trying to purchase the club is Amanda Staveley’s PCP Partners Group. Staveley has bid £250 million, but this falls short of Ashley’s £300m evaluation and this has put the deal in jeopardy, Newcastle fans would be right to worry about Benitez resigning if this situation is not resolved unless another buyer comes to the fore.
On the pitch, the Magpies started the season with two defeats, but Benitez had the team well drilled and they moved up the table to as high as ninth after eight games. Since then Newcastle have only won 1 out of their last 8 fixtures and 6 of those games have been defeats. Benitez may find himself between a rock and a hard place and considering his status as a manager may look for a more secure place of work and could resign.
So who will be the next manager to resign or to be relieved of their duties given the evidence at hand?
If we look at what the bookmakers think of the three managers spoke of we will see:
Paul Clement – 1/1 (Evens)
Mark Hughes – 15/8
Rafa Benitez – 10/1
(Source: Sky Bet, odds correct as of 10th of December 2017)
Written by Daniel Dwamena