The Premier League is just around the corner. Naturally, the excitement for the fans is through the roof. As the season draws closer, many interesting scripts are ready to be unfolded in the league. The one saga that definitely returns every time in the league is the sack threat for the managers. In the most competitive league in the world, no manager can relax for even a single matchday.
⏰ T w o d a y s ⏰
How happy are you feeling about your #FPL starting XI? 👕
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) August 11, 2021
In the Premier League, no manager is practically safe. The managers might just be a bad run of form away from the sack. Managers like Jose Mourinho, Frank Lampard and Chris Wilder were shown the door prematurely last season. The reputations won’t count for anything if the objectives set by the board and fans aren’t met.
Who are the bookmakers’ favourites to face the sack in the new season? Which manager would not be in the dugout between now and the end of May? FootTheBall ranks the managers in the order of them getting the likely sack.
20) PEP GUARDIOLA – MANCHESTER CITY
Just over a year ago, it looked like the Premier League finally got the better of Pep. The Spaniard was beaten to the crown by Liverpool and oversaw a disastrous start to the league. There were calls coming for a change from few quarters of Manchester City as well. However, he proved why few call him the best coach in the world with his tactical genius. Pep Guardiola rallied his Manchester City brilliantly to a third league title in four years as he turned things around.
Pep Guardiola wins the Premier League trophy for the 3rd time, and the 10th trophy in total as Manchester City manager since 2016/17. pic.twitter.com/dvzdY2iZkW
— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) May 11, 2021
He did it in the most unthinkable ways as well. For the majority of the season, Pep had to field lineups without a proper striker. The false 9 tactic was used again and it was fresh as an apple as it took the league by a storm. City were also defensively solid as Pep cracked pandemic football by mixing offence and defence perfectly. They are in a pole position to retain the title after signing Jack Grealish. If a potential sack were to come, it’d be from his failure in Europe with his City squad.
19) JURGEN KLOPP – LIVERPOOL
The German manager is a charismatic figure on the touchlines. He is loved by everyone on and off the pitch by every soul on Merseyside. Though Liverpool had the worst possible defence to their first league title in 30 years, Klopp’s job was never in doubt. If circumstances of his failure were considered, no one could ever blame Klopp. Liverpool were muddled in a defensive crisis and suffered a burnout after three years of top-class football.
Klopp on the Premier League trophy:
“It’s a nice trophy for sure! It is the heaviest trophy which makes sense as it is the hardest to win!” pic.twitter.com/Ykm1ZuNWha
— The Anfield Talk (@TheAnfieldTalk) August 8, 2020
Klopp’s side stooped to a point where even getting top four looked impossible. He used all his might to marshall his troops for a Champions League finish and ended up getting the third position. This season might be the acid test for Klopp as a majority of his return from injuries and long vacations. If the players hit their best, one can fancy the reds to wrestle with City for the league title. As far as the axe is concerned, no owner in the world would do that to a messianic figure like Klopp.
18) MARCELO BIELSA – LEEDS UNITED
The Argentine manager is a godlike figure in Yorkshire. He is revered as the figure that came from a foreign land to awaken the sleeping giants. Bielsa turned Leeds from perennial nearlies to the champions of the Championship and delivered the promised land of Premier League to them after 16 years. Even for a man with a distinguished CV like Bielsa, this is some achievement. Bielsa brought the city and the team together through players like Kalvin Phillips.
Leeds United lift the Championship trophy after a stunning season under Marcelo Bielsa 🏆pic.twitter.com/ifyG7N2l5N
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) July 22, 2020
Bielsa knew to get the best out of his squad, he needed them to be completely fit first. His high-intensity game requires 200% from each and every player. Bielsa succeeded in getting that and led Leeds to a top-half finish in the Premier League on their return. He has to now prevent his players from the famous “Bielsa Burnout” and ensure that they continue their progress towards a European spot.
17) THOMAS TUCHEL – CHELSEA
Wondering how a Champions League winning manager is the fourth safest manager in the league? A second’s thought would give you the reason as Chelsea. Knowing the club’s and owner Roman Abramovich’s short temper, no manager can ever be considered safe. Jose Mourinho was gone by Christmas after winning the league, Maurizio Sarri was sacked after the Europa League triumph. Thomas Tuchel must prove he’s different as he tries to mount a title challenge.
The Champions League triumph only increases expectations on him. He took an expensively assembled squad from Frank Lampard and turned them into European Champions in under a season. With further backing up in the form of Romelu Lukaku, nothing less than another two-pronged attack would be accepted. Tuchel needs to implement his tactics perfectly and also end the Guardiola-Klopp dominance in the league.
16) DAVID MOYES – WEST HAM UNITED
Maybe for once in his career after a long time, Moyes can feel safe. He can now look over his shoulder and not feel those breaths calling for a sack. His exceptional management at the Westham stadium has driven them to Europe. Moyes should continue his good work and aim for an improvement on their sixth-placed finish. His transfer judgement in players like Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal has stood out in particular.
David Moyes has shown himself to be the perfect fit at West Ham, but the man himself is yet to form a strong bond with his supporters owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 11, 2021
Jesse Lingard played a pivotal role in Moyes’ men reaching the Europa League. Moyes must replace Lingard’s creativity efficiently. Thus far, he hasn’t been backed properly in the window. A striker needs to be brought in to compete with Michail Antonio for a starting spot. Moyes must know that he is under the radar now and should work to prove that his resurgence is not a one-season wonder.
15) GRAHAM POTTER – BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
The English man is quietly brewing a revolution on the South coast. After taking a different approach to coaching, he is making the Brighton fans dream. Potter has built a reputation for his free-flowing football at the Amex stadium. He might receive all the backing from the board to continue his good work and impress other top clubs.
"It’s going to be really exciting and something we will need to get used to again in a positive way." 🗣️
Graham Potter can't wait to see you! 🤩
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) August 7, 2021
Brighton are built in a harmonious way from back to the front. Their defence was so good that Ben White was snapped by Arsenal for a whopping £50 million. A key feature of his team was the versatility and the ease with which they switched between, 3 and 4 men back. Brighton are cheekily named xG champions due to gross underperformance of xG. A solid striker may solve their problems and secure them a top of the table finish.
14) DEAN SMITH – ASTON VILLA
An 11th place finish wouldn’t tell you anything about Aston Villa last season. The style of football, their attacking mindset backed by Dean Smith made them fan favourites. Noticing Smith’s achievements the board decided to back him well with resources.
"We are looking forward to it." 🙌
Dean Smith previews the 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟭/𝟮𝟮 season with just over a week to go until our Premier League opener. 🗣️
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) August 6, 2021
The Grealish saga which almost took the entirety of the summer is finally done. Villa received a seizable fee which was redistributed successfully. Incomings Ings, Buendia fill the void left by Grealish in attack and defence. Oher signings would definitely raise their level and allow them to compete for higher challenges. Since Dean Smith is handed the war chest recently, hell be given sufficient time to implement his ideology fully.
13) BRENDAN RODGERS – LEICESTER CITY
Brendan Rodgers has been superb in his second spell in the premier league. The Northern Irish man assembled a special squad at the King Power stadium. He also delivered two titles in the form of the FA Cup and the Community Shield. Decent business in the transfer window might also give them more reason to believe that this would be a better season. Wesley Fofana’s long term injury is a negative they have to deal with from the pre-season.
Joined Leicester with the club sat 12th.
Led them back to Europe after one full season in charge.
Highest win % of any manager in the club's history.
Led the Foxes to their first ever FA Cup.
Won the Community Shield.
— bet365 (@bet365) August 7, 2021
Leicester have suffered similar heartbreak since the past two seasons. Being in the top 4 for the entirety of the season only to give it up on the final matchday would’ve hurt them. Rodgers might want to change this pattern and make sure that they reach their goal properly.
12) SEAN DYCHE – BURNLEY
Dyche is also a manager that can be considered untouchable at the club. The support given by the fans to Dyche through thick and thin makes him dodge the silver bullet. For neutrals, Burnely have stopped progressing and have simply kept survival as their sole objective. The Clarets in an attempt to show some ambition have bid for Lyon’s Maxwell Cornet. A move might again revive their club’s situation.
DYCHE | There are some things to be pleased with but it’s just a little bit of a damb squib after such a strong pre-season." 💬
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) August 7, 2021
Dyche’s Burnely and Turf Moor are a tough venue for any opposition to breach. They defend deeply and play long balls and execute counterattacks to perfection. However, this shouldn’t be their identity and they must explore other possibilities. Dyche might be pressured like Chris Wilder was last season if their survival itself is in jeopardy.
11) DANIEL FARKE – NORWICH CITY
Being a manager of a Yo-Yo club is very tough. Taking the challenging tasks and doing them successfully would require a person as strong as Daniel Farke. The German manager is practically considered untouchable at Carrow Road because of his contributions to the club.
🗣 "Our situation over the last two weeks means I felt it would be difficult to be competitive on this level."
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) August 8, 2021
Norwich have also added smartly to their squad to stay in the top flight. Billy Gilmour of Chelsea was snapped on a loan by the. Other signings like Josh Sargent, Milot Raschica came in with a good pre-season behind them. Farke’s Norwich have one of the toughest opening fixtures possible. He needs to get his side on a positive note and let them believe.
10) OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER – MANCHESTER UNITED
Alright, the preview is over now let the show begin. For years, united had a massive rebuild at the club. With incredible backing this summer, Ole got big-money signings like Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane. These signings would immediately improve United’s starting lineup. They also addressed the key issues that held them back last season. Apart from that Ole has a solid squad that could compete for trophies.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 9, 2021
Ole is often known for taking the pragmatic approach in big games to get the points in the bank. His tactical flexibility is also questioned at times. United fans would hope that he gets management and tactics correctly in the new season. If the Red Devils fail to deliver silverware, then Oles’s future might be at risk definitely.
9) NUNO ESPIRITO SANTO – TOTTENHAM
Nuno maybe wasn’t always the first priority for Spurs. The Portuguese manager left Wolves midway through the last season. His impressive work at Wolves was well noted by England’s elite. Tottenham waited for a long time to replace Jose Mourinho. A host of names like Antonio Conte, Erik ten Haag and Gennaro Gattuso were considered. Finally, Nuno was roped into the Tottenham stadium.
Boss 👔 😎 pic.twitter.com/vTLB81a6ch
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 11, 2021
Nuno knows that trophies are the one thing Spurs crave for desperately. By compartmentalizing he should make sure that he meets that aim. Besides, he needs to sort his team out as the Harry Kane saga looks to go beyond the start of the season. His adaptability to the players and change of system should be observed. However, a series of mistakes could be enough to turn the tables of Daniel Levy.
8) RAFAEL BENITEZ – EVERTON
This move had controversy written all over it. Benitez who won European glory with Everton’s arch-rivals Liverpool would always be detested. After massive protests and serious threats, Benitez was presented as the Everton manager. Carlo Ancelotti had his head turned when Real Madrid came calling and ditched the Everton project. The toffees progressing in the right direction suddenly have to adjust to a new management style.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) June 18, 2021
Benitez undoubtedly brings his world-class experience and elite winning mentality to the squad. He should slowly build the squad around Dominic Calvert Lewin. Winning over the fans is the key here as a successful run would appease the protesting ones. But Benitez must know that he would be crucified for every mistake with calls for a sack coming right away.
7) BRUNO LAGE – WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
Another bit of Portuguese business at Wolves. The club had stagnated in the previous season under Nuno and were happy to part ways with him. Bruno Lage, a young Portuguese coach was hired to steady the ship and steer it forward. Lage succeeded at Benfica by winning the league in his first season as a manager. Similar success would be hard to achieve in the Premier League. But a decent finish in European places would be considered a success for the midlands club.
Opening day preparations 💪
— Wolves (@Wolves) August 11, 2021
Lage can feel familiarity in the air as he has a lot of Portuguese personnel to work with. Youngsters like Fabio Silva, Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence should excite him. The prospect of returning Raul Jimenez would elevate their attack to the next level. Few smart signings to round the squad would put them in a decent position. Lage would be well observed by many and needs to be cautious in his approach.
6) MIKEL ARTETA – ARSENAL
Arteta had a decent start to life as a manager at Arsenal when he took ever from Unai Emery. Having learnt his trade from Pep Guardiola, he was expected to lead Arsenal to glory again. He won two trophies in short succession but it proved to be a false dawn for the Gunners. Arteta oversaw their worst ever start to a league season in the Premier League era. They have also missed out on European competitions for the first time in their modern history.
Arsenal are 15th in the Premier League with 13 points from 11 matches.
It is the Gunners' worst start to the season since 1981.😳 pic.twitter.com/gMjN9KF6DL
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) December 7, 2020
Arteta is an efficient man-manager and it is made evident by players like Bukayo Saka and Emile-Smith Rowe. But his credibility in tactics and squad selection can be questioned at times. Arteta doesn’t have a clear identity and is in the process of discovering it. Arsenal are spending big in the transfer window and hoping to turn around this season. If Arteta fails to secure European football, he might not live to see another season at the Emirates.
5) PATRICK VIEIRA- CRYSTAL PALACE
It’s harsh to put so much pressure on a young manager. But it is the Premier League and not even a name as iconic as Patrick Vieira would be respected when it comes to results. Remember Palace have sacked Frank de Boer just after four games without a win. This time, the London club might be more lenient toward Vieira as he looks to build a young squad and show some ambition. They have young talents like Eze and Olise coming into their squad.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) July 6, 2021
Vieira is known for playing a compact 4-4-2 at his previous club Nice. He had a solid start to life in France. As the season went along and the pandemic happened, Vieira lost the plot. His team looked headless on the pitch at times which showed the manager’s novice nature at times. the Frenchman mustn’t allow such lapses of concentration in London if he intends to stick around for a long time. saving them relegation should be his primary aim.
4) RALPH HASENHUTTL – SOUTHAMPTON
A product of the famed German mastermind Ralph Rangnick, Hasenhuttl had a strong start to life on the South coast. Even as recently as last season, his Saints topped the league for a short while. However, since the turn of the year, they spiralled into a free fall as they flirted with relegation at times. The German manager increasingly came under pressure towards the end of the season. He is now the bookmaker favourite to get the axe.
Enjoy your day, boss! 🥳 pic.twitter.com/m17ljVNYSD
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) August 9, 2021
Hasenhuttl holds the notorious record of being hit for nine goals in consecutive seasons. His side also boasted the second-worst defensive record in the entire division last season. His job would depend on how effectively he fixes his defence and replaces Danny Ings. Ings, a constant goal threat for the Saints joined Aston Villa recently. Hasenhuttl has to look for other places to find goals and create chances to keep his job.
3) THOMAS FRANK – BRENTFORD
Newly promoted clubs to the Premier League are always likely to struggle. Teams like Leeds United and Wolves have quashed the above thumb rule to a little extent. Thomas Frank might draw his inspiration from those clubs as he leads Brentford to the Premier League for the first time in history. The Bees have won the play-off final after heartbreak in the previous season to reach the Premier League.
🗣 Thomas on aims this season
"There are two simple targets for me. One is to win the next game which is on Friday against Arsenal. Two is to finish as high as possible. We want to be positive minded and attacking for as many minutes as possible"#BrentfordFC #BREARS pic.twitter.com/6LzJ393eHX
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) August 11, 2021
Frank’s Brentford are known for playing fearless free-flowing attacking football. He sets his team up with a three-man back with wing-backs supplying the width. A mid-block helps them recycle the ball to their pacy forwards. This system has clicked in the Championship and would be put to the sword in the Premier League. Ivan Toney, their starman needs to play his heart out to keep them in the top flight and save Frank’s job. Frank’s Brentford meets Arsenal for a London Derby in the season curtain-raiser.
2) STEVE BRUCE – NEWCASTLE
The legendary ex-Manchester United centre-back might as well be on borrowed time at St.James Park. Bruce, a boyhood Newcastle fan replaced the Spanish legend, Rafael Benitez. Naturally, Bruce’s CV wasn’t anywhere close to Benitez’s and was met with firm backlash. Bruce asked for a chance to win over the fans but has done little to win their trust.
📺 Steve Bruce spoke with NUFC TV following the Magpies' pre-season friendly victory over Norwich City.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) August 7, 2021
The magpies sleepwalked to relegation last season and were only saved by Joe Willock’s sensational loan spell. The brand of football played by Bruce was a snoozefest for the fans and led to fractures amongst the fan groups. Even the much-maligned owner Mike Ashley supported Bruce well in the form of record signings Miguel Almiron and Joelinton. Failure to get the best out of his attackers might mean the curtains for Bruce in the North West of England.
1) FRANCISO JAVIER MUNOZ – WATORD
Watford are back in the Premier League again. The Hornets bounced straight back from the Championship thanks to their head coach Xisco. The Spaniard replaced Vladimir Ivic as the manager at Vicarage Road. With only one year of managerial experience under his belt, Xisco did admirably well to win the promotion to the top flight. His team are strong favourites for relegation making Xisco a top contender for the sack.
🗣 “We know the Premier League. Everybody knows the level and we have to give our maximum. It’s not the same mentality as last season.”
Reaction from Xisco Muñoz 👇
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) August 7, 2021
Though he has brought them to the Premier League, his real task would be keeping them there. This might not be a favourable task for him. Watford’s squad often struggles to compete in the Premier League. Though they have seasoned players like Troy Deeney and Danny Rose, their survival might be extremely difficult. A strong start would be his only hope of avoiding the sack.