Halloween was nearly three weeks ago but as far as some Premier League managers are concerned one of the scariest parts of the season has just come and gone.
International breaks can be fraught with problems especially if you are in charge of a struggling side.
The volume of qualifying tournaments and friendlies can’t match that of domestic leagues in full flow and so speculation as to who may be fired and who hired, is a great fall back for anyone with a column or two to write or airwaves to fill for twenty minutes.
November is particularly bad. The August and September dates set by FIFA generally come too early and any board firing a manager so soon is open to ridicule from the fans – to an even greater degree than usual.
Any board with so little faith is likely to have made the change during the off-season.
As October rolls into view the pressure is building and by then a couple of unlucky results at the start of the season can start to have the look of a season long relegation battle.
By the time we reach November the league has taken on a definite shape and although there may be a two or three teams “out of position” it is pretty difficult to convince nervy fans that they should not worry and “things will improve.”
Over the last eleven seasons there have only been two seasons where we’ve reached this point without losing a Premier League boss.
It took until November 25, 2005 for Portsmouth to pull the plug on Alain Perrin and two seasons ago it was again Pompey that made the first move when they dumped Paul Hart.
Of course getting past mid-November is no cause to break out the champagne. With the transfer window reopening January 1 the inevitable chatter about players leaving and arriving will ramp up.
If there is money to spend on transfers and loan deals the directors need to decide whether they are willing to risk new investment with the incumbent or a replacement. Is the man who got you into trouble the man who is most likely to get you out of it?
Any club in the market for a replacement over the next few weeks seems to have some experienced and well qualified managers to choose from – if they can be persuaded to return to the goldfish bowl type existence.
Martin O’Neil, Gordon Strachan, Steve McClaren, Carlo Ancelotti, Mark Hughes and Rafa Benitez are all sitting out at the moment.
All six can point to relative successes while only Strachan has ever been relegated from the Premier League and that came early in his career with Coventry City.
Here are the latest odds on the first Premier League manager to leave –
Steve Kean – 10/11; Steve Bruce – 5/2; Roberto Martinez – 11/2; Mick McCarthy – 8/1; Harry Redknapp – 12/1; Owen Coyle – 14/1; Alex McLeish, Roy Hodgson – 20/1; David Moyes, Neil Warnock – 25/1; Roberto Mancini – 33/1; Arsene Wenger, Martin Jol, Alan Pardew, Paul Lambert – 40/1; Brendan Rodgers, Andre Villas-Boas, Kenny Dalglish, Tony Pulis – 50/1; Sir Alex Ferguson, No one – 80/1.
Managers currently finding it difficult to take a call from their Chairman can take heart from Alan Pardew’s odds. At the start of the season you would only get 5/1 that Pardew would be first to leave – now 40/1.
They can also take a look at Serie A where the mantra seems to be “always decisive, usually wrong.” Seven Serie A managers have already bitten the dust.
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