The Premiership Sack Race 2011/12

One of the most intriguing debates to kick off any season is which Premiership manager will be the first to be shown the door by his club. With the life expectancy of the modern day manager getting ever shorter and club owners becoming more and more unpredictable and unpopular in their decision making, next season’s sack race promises to be more open than ever before. Here are the Premiership managers who should watch their back next season:

Steve Kean – The Blackburn Rovers manager is a firm favourite with many bookmakers to be the first to be given the chop next season. Having taken over after the surprising sacking of Sam Allardyce last season, Kean failed to have any significant impact in turning around the club’s fortunes as they limped over the finish line. Even with £17m in the bank following the sale of Phil Jones to Manchester United, the club have yet to improve their squad this summer and at the moment, it’s difficult to see the club improving on last season. The club’s owners put their trust in Steve Kean following Allardyce’s dismissal, but his days will be numbered if they start badly next season.

Neil Warnock – As QPR prepare for their first season in the top flight for 15 years, there is already mounting speculation surrounding the future of the man who got them there in the first place. Neil Warnock was inspirational in guiding the club to the Championship title last season, but now that they are in the Premiership, the club’s owners may look for a big-name manager to help them secure their indefinite top-flight status. If Warnock were to be sacked, it will arguably be the harshest managerial casualty, but with some bookies offering as little as 6/4 for Warnock to be the first to go, one can’t help but feel concerned that his future at the club is in doubt.

Steve Bruce – Sunderland were one of the biggest capitulators of last season. Having spent the majority of the first half of the season in the top ten, they completely fell apart in the second half. The departure of Darren Bent to Aston Villa and the loss of Danny Welbeck and Frazier Campbell through injury were significant factors in Sunderland’s demise, but Steve Bruce’s credibility as manager of the Black Cats has now been thrown in to question. They have been one of the most active clubs in the transfer market over the summer, with 9 new faces in their squad, but if their miserable form continues in to the new season, there may well be a new face in the hot seat too.

Mick McCarthy – After two seasons of Premier League survival, next season will be a huge test to see if Wolverhampton Wanderers can go one better and maintain a comfortable league position. Mick McCarthy has already captured the services of Roger Johnson and Jamie O’Hara this summer and will no doubt continue to strengthen the squad at his disposal. McCarthy is certainly a favourite with the fans at Molineux, but a poor start to the season could see him as one of the favourites to lose his job.

Alan Pardew – Despite finishing the season comfortably in mid table, fans of Newcastle United have never really got over the sacking of Chris Hughton. Likewise, they haven’t quite warmed to Alan Pardew just yet. The expectation to succeed is arguably higher at Newcastle than any other club outside of the top 6 and you can’t help but feel that if the club start poorly, the finger of blame will be pointed at Pardew. They have certainly been busy in the transfer market, but there is still doubt surrounding the future of some of the clubs key players. The club will expect improvement on last season, if not, Pardew will be out.

Arsene Wenger – 16 years of loyal, dedicated and exceptional service, yet the pressure on Arsene Wenger at Arsenal is now greater than ever. Having not won a trophy for 6 years, it is surely now just a matter of time before the Arsenal board decide that enough is enough and look to someone else to try and bring success to the Emirates. Wenger’s stubbornness to invest in youth rather than experience doesn’t appear
to have shifted so far this summer. Only Gervinho has been drafted in to the squad, but the club seem destined now to lose Cesc Fabregas and there is also doubt over Samir Nasri’s future. Wenger may have been at the club for a long time, but in this day and age, that’s just not enough anymore.

Alex McLeish – He may have only just taken over at Aston Villa, but the pressure on Alex McLeish is already huge without the team having even kicked a ball. He may have been the board’s choice, but he was certainly not the fan’s choice having moved over from arch rivals Birmingham City and it will take a lot to win them over. The team’s first seven matches next season are against Fulham, Blackburn, Wolves, Everton, Newcastle, QPR and Wigan. These are all very winnable and crucial games and a poor run of results against these teams could lead to an early exit for McLeish. There is also a massive hole in the squad left by Ashley Young and with Stewart Downing on the verge of signing for Liverpool, McLeish will need to act quickly to find adequate replacements.

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