The Sack Race 2017/18 Premier League Manager Predictions

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 11 August 2017, 12:54

It’s that time of year again as The Sack Race squad dish out their managerial predictions for the 2017/18 Premier League season. As was the case last year we each give our (questionable) thoughts on the manager we think will be sacked first, which gaffer will win the coveted title, and also the boss who couldĀ emerge as a surprise package.

Here’s how we fared in 2016/17 addition

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Jack Kitson

First Casualty = Slaven Bilic (West Ham) @ 7/1

For me it’s a three-horse race between Mark Hughes, Craig Shakespeare and Slaven Bilic, and it’s the latter I’m predicting to be the first Premier League gaffer to crumble. The Croatian came under immense pressure throughout the previous season, but he managed to cling onto his job, and was then even given the cash to splash in the summer. However, the athletics at the London Stadium means the Iron start off with three straight (tricky) away games - Man Utd, Southampton, and Newcastle - meaning they are likely to struggle out of the blocks. Once the pressure has been piled back on Bilic’s shoulders I don’t see the owner's being so patient this time around.

Title Winner = Pep Guardiola (Man City) @ 7/4

I was going to back Antonio Conte to become the first back-to-back title winner since Fergie (07/08 & 08/09), but I’m no longer so convinced. In fact, a stuttering start could even see the Italian come under pressure in the Sack Race...Instead, like every man and his dog, I’m tipping Pep Guardiola to have learnt those valuable lessons from his debut season in England, and romp towards the title at the second attempt. Man City have added some dazzling summer additions to what is an already scintillating squad, and providing Pep can sort out the defence, the title will be his.

Surprise Package = Frank de Boer (Crystal Palace)

There’s no doubting the talent on offer at Crystal Palace, it’s the team’s ability to play as a cohesive unit which has been their main downfall. Last season the club were woeful under Alan Pardew, before Sam Allardyce came in and steadied the ship. Now Frank de Boer is at the helm, and I’m predicting a thrilling season at Selhurst Park, with a flurry of goals...at both ends! The Dutchman bagged four titles with Ajax and will be gunning to bounce back from his brief spell at Inter - I like the look of the Eagles at a tasty 9/1 in the Without The Big Seven market.

Twitter: @jack_kitson

Slaven Bilic

Simon Lillicrap

First Casualty = Mark Hughes (Stoke) @ 3/1

Stoke are going to struggle this season and Mark Hughes will be the fall man early on. They are one of a handful of teams who have not improved in the transfer window, losing Marko Arnautovic, Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters and the consequences of this could be huge. A relegation battle beckons at Stoke and Mark Hughes will pay the price for his side regressing and becoming stale during the transfer window.

Title Winner = Pep Guardiola (Man City) @ 7/4

Incredible squad depth and a huge amount of money spent fixing key areas. Guardiola will have learnt from last year and they should have enough to fend off challenges from the other contenders. Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero should be banging in the goals and Man City have enough games to play so that Pep can keep his large and talented squad happy. Pep will quieten the doubters and Man City should be scintillating to watch this season.

Surprise Package = David Wagner (Huddersfield)

Huddersfield are the side that everyone keeps underestimating before a ball has even been kicked. The pundits did the same with Eddie Howe's Bournemouth when they came up from the Championship and I can see the Terriers proving everybody wrong once again. Wagner is an inspirational manager who worked miracles last year and who is to say he can't do the same in the top flight? He has spent relatively big in the transfer window and managing to sign Aaron Mooy permanently could prove pivotal as they strive for survival. If Huddersfield stay up, David Wagner could well come close to the manager of the year award.

Twitter: @simonlillicrap

Mike Holden

First Casualty = Mark Hughes (Stoke) @ 3/1

Much will depend on transfer business still to be done but Stoke saw 16 points disappear through the relegation trapdoor at the end of last season and they've since waved goodbye to some of their most influential players of recent years. If Hughes can get some fresh blood in, he might weather the storm. But a lack of new faces combined with a rotten fixture list could see his position untenable by late September.

Title Winner = Pep Guardiola (Man City) @ 7/4

The Catalan appears to have resolved most of his problem areas with some eye-watering summer business and, for all of City's faults last season, they weren't a million miles away in terms of the overall standards they were setting. They dominated teams like never before and posted their best-ever Premier League away record. They simply need to start putting more teams to the sword at the Etihad.

Surprise Package = Craig Shakespeare (Leicester)

I don't think he's quite the rookie that many are making out. He's been the number two at Leicester for nearly a decade, so surely understands what the top job entails, and the players respect him, so that's half the battle already. When I listen to a manager speak, I always look to pick holes in what they say and what they stand for but I've got nothing that concerns me about him yet.

Twitter: @Ratings_Mike

Pep Guardiola

Mick Bates

First Casualty = Mark Hughes (Stoke) @ 3/1

Mark Hughes has been an also-ran for many seasons. Stoke have a tough start in the EPL, facing Arsenal, Man Utd, and Chelsea in their first six fixtures, as well as the likes of Saints and Everton = not the easiest of beginnings. Failure to secure points here could be his downfall.

Title Winner = Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham) @ 10/1

Despite making no grand signings during the summer, the Spurs squad (as long as is there are no major injuries...Kieran Trippier) should be strong enough, the exit of Kyle Walker will, however, be a blow but it would be great to see a team not necessarily buy themselves the title but rely on the talents they have nurtured. Last year I backed them to improve on their 3rd place finish, to quote a fellow colleague, I'm going “balls deep” on Poch!

Surprise Package = Chris Hughton (Brighton)

Despite having to start the season against Man City, Chris Hughton's following fixtures consist of teams you will expect to see in the bottom half of the table throughout the season. If he can get some decent results here we could be seeing Brighton challenging for 10th or above in their debut Premier League season.

Twitter: @MichaelBates72

Richard Smith

First Casualty = Slaven Bilic (West Ham) @ 7/1

Slaven Bilic was on the hot-seat for the majority of last season and somehow, managed to survive. However, a tricky run of games to start the season could see the West Ham board, together their inflated expectations, pull the trigger on the Croatian, early doors.

Title Winner = Pep Guardiola (Man City) @ 7/4

It looks set to be the most hotly contested title race in years, with any one of six teams boasting a realistic chance of being crowned champions. However, it is Antonio Conte that has fewest questions to answer with last season's course and distance success a huge advantage for the Italian and his Chelsea squad. The Blues have made some impressive additions and it is Conte that can become only the third manager to win back-to-back titles in the Premier League era.

Surprise Package = Michael Appleton (Leicester)

Michael Appleton! The honeymoon will soon be over for Craig Shakespeare at Leicester as the rookie manager embarks on his first full season at the helm and it would be no surprise if he beats Bilic to the job centre. As such, expect Michael Appleton to be in charge of the Foxes at some stage during the 17/18 campaign...With five first-team appointments and six years experience in the dugout on his CV, the 41-year-old did not quit Oxford to play second-fiddle for long and he can surprise a few by firstly, stepping in to Shakespeare's shoes, before guiding Leicester to safety.

Twitter: @Rich94

Sean Raymond

First Casualty = Tony Pulis (West Brom) @ 12/1

Tony Pulis has been frustrated in the transfer market over the summer, and that will surely boil over into the season for the Baggies. New Chinese investment into the club has failed to pay dividends for West Brom, and it is hard to see Pulis taking the club any further. Expect the former Stoke gaffer to be queuing up for his P45 before long.

Title Winner = Pep Guardiola (Man City) & 7/4

Pep Guardiola has invested in his defence heavily over the summer and with Vincent Kompany back fit, that should see the Spaniard lift the title. There were glimpses of brilliance from City last term, and there will be no excuse for their superstar manager this time.

Surprise Package = Slaven Bilic (West Ham)

Slaven Bilic endured a nightmare season at West Ham last term but he hung on to his job, and he can bounce back. Hernandez is a massive signing for the Hammers with goals assured, and along with Joe Hart and Marko Arnautovic, they look to have a much stronger squad. Bilic hasn't become a bad coach overnight and can lead the Iron to a top half finish.

Twitter: @seanraymond

Chris Knight

First Casualty = Craig Shakespeare (Leicester) @ 8/1

Craig Shakespeare did a fine job in guiding Leicester City away from relegation trouble during last year's dismal title defence but should he have been given a three-year contract in June? For me, no. We've seen it many times before where a temporary manager (think Dick Advocaat and Tim Sherwood) has rescued a club before enduring a difficult second season as the full-time gaffer. Shakespeare will be out of a job by Christmas.

Title Winner = Jose Mourinho (Man Utd) @ 7/2

This season will be all about Pep Guardiola v Jose Mourinho, Manchester City v Manchester United. My tip? I fancy United to come out on top as they are a defensively sound, functional team that can grind out the 1-0 wins that will win a league and Mourinho always delivers a league title in his second season.

Surprise Package = Chris Hughton (Brighton)

A thoroughly decent bloke, Chris Hughton will enjoy the benefit of patience after doing a wonderful job in earning promotion with Brighton and I fancy the Seagulls could defy the odds by staying in the top-flight. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them in the Championship and I hope they can do a 'Bournemouth' this term.

Twitter: @Chris_Knight84

Craig Shakespeare

Russell Palmer

First Casualty = Craig Shakespeare (Leicester) @ 8/1

Craig Shakespeare steadied the ship at Leicester last season after Claudio Ranieri's cruel departure. But the 6-1 defeat in their penultimate game of the season last May to Spurs suggested cracks were beginning to form and it wouldn't be that surprising if the players downed tools for this manager were they to get off to a bad start.

Title Winner = Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham) @ 10/1

Mauricio Pochettino. Third two years ago, second last year, his improving Spurs side can continue their rise and win their first title for an age.

Surprise Package = Frank de Boer (Crystal Palace)

You'd have to have a look at teams you think could over-perform so I'll take a punt on Crystal Palace to have a good season. Frank De Boer has plenty of weapons at his disposal and given his rough time at Inter it would be some achievement if he got this team to finish in the top half.

Twitter: @rustyboy75

Harris Simpson

First Casualty = Frank de Boer (Crystal Palace) @ 16/1

After initially impressing at Ajax, Frank de Boer struggled to implement his style at Inter Milan, and while the Dutchman undoubtedly has sound tactical nous, whether he can successfully implement that in the Premier League remains to be seen. The English game is unforgiving, and should he struggle in the early weeks of the season, it won’t be long before Palace wield the axe.

Title Winner = Jose Mourinho (Man Utd) @ 7/2

After a summer of unprecedented spending, this year is set to be one of the most hotly contested title races in recent memory, however, for me the two Manchester clubs look the best placed. After further strengthening the spine of the team, I feel that Mourinho’s new look physical side might just give them the edge over Guardiola’s flimsy team, and so I’m going to go for Mourinho to lift the trophy next May.

Surprise Package = Slaven Bilic (West Ham)

After recruiting well over the summer, Slaven Bilic looks set to have a strong season with West Ham. Bilic had a turbulent campaign last time around, but the impact of changing stadium undoubtedly played a large part in their struggles. Many have Everton nailed down for 7th, but if the Croat’s new signings hit the ground running, Bilic and the Hammers will be right in the mix.

Twitter: @simpsonharris1

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Craig Shakespeare
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