The first manager to get the chop
Sceptics might say that two games into the season is far too early for a feature such as this; that regardless of how teams have fared so far, it is simply not enough matches to deduce how they are going to get on this season. To which I would reply … I wholeheartedly agree, but what with the revolving door policy of modern football management, I need to get this done before somebody gets axed. So here are the frontrunners in the sack race.
Roberto Martinez, Wigan 5/4
The bookies’ favourite. A dreadful start to the season, really. I wouldn’t read too much into the Chelsea result, they do score quite a lot of goals. But 4-0 to Blackpool on the opening day? Simply not good enough. I’ve never heard boos ring round a stadium on the first day of the season quite like they did on the final whistle at the DW. The defensive problems they have over there aren’t going away any time soon: Antolin Alcaraz doesn’t look cut out for the Premiership, and Steven Caldwell is unlikely to steady the defensive ship. Spurs away next for Wigan. 9-1, anyone?
Ian Holloway, Blackpool 6/1
Personally, I can’t see this happening. Blackpool seem to have adopted the Burnley model of financial sensibility, rather than the Hull model of ludicrous overspending, so I don’t imagine dishing out compo to perfectly good managers is on the agenda at Bloomfield Road. Blackpool have more than enough about them to avoid embarrassment, as they showed in that excellent performance against (an admittedly abysmal) Wigan, and I’d be very, very surprised if Holloway was the first to go.
Avram Grant, West Ham 7/1
A surprisingly disappointing start for West Ham, perhaps, as many were expecting Grant to do a job following his reign at Portsmouth. He may well have taken them down, but it was an impossible situation, really, and to take them to an FA Cup final was very impressive. Two losses, however, to a post-O’Neill Villa (who, lest we forget, conceded six at St. James’ Park on Sunday) and Bolton have seen the Israeli come under a little early scrutiny. He’ll be hoping that he can keep hold of Scott Parker, and if he can get a few results under his belt, Grant may be able to turn West Ham around after their disappointing last season.
Roberto Mancini, Man City 8/1
This is entirely plausible, but I think Mancini might do a job with this side. I’m sure the thinking in his relatively short odds is that if things don’t go well for City in the first couple of months of the season, Sheikh Rattleandroll will lose patience and sack him. But I reckon that now Mancini’s brought in his own players, and gotten rid of the dissenter Bellamy, that City are gonna be a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think they’ll properly challenge for the title, but a Champions League place should be enough to satisfy Sheikh Speareinlove.
Chris Hughton, Newcastle 8/1
As was the case with Newcastle in the Championship last season, I think anything could happen to them. They should be safe, but if they begin to struggle down in the lower regions of the table, Hughton might find himself in a wee bit of trouble. Their 6-0 hammering of Villa was impressive, however, and they’ve certainly got the players to do well. Hughton walked it in the Championship with this squad, and I see no reason why anyone should doubt him.
Alex McLeish, Birmingham 8/1
Birmingham had a great season in 09-10, and it’s difficult to see them replicating it this time round. Joe Hart will be sorely missed from a side whose reputation was based on solid defensive displays, but if Ben Foster plays as well as he did at Watford, they may have found an adequate replacement. They need goals though (just 38 last season, less than relegated Burnley) and Nikola Zigic doesn’t look like the man to get them. McLeish would have to have a shocker to get sacked, though, and I think they’ll be comfortably clear of the relegation places.
Best (worst?) of the rest: Roberto Di Matteo 12/1, Steve Bruce 14/1, Owen Coyle 16/1, Tony Pulis 16/1, Mark Hughes 18/1, Roy Hodgson 20/1.