Misery For Midlands Managersby Jack Kitson / 15 February 2017, 11:25Tweet
What is going on in the Midlands?
There are at least four Midlands based bosses enduring a torrid time in the dugout, three of which were in-season appointments, while the other manager hoisted the Premier League title only nine months ago.
Below we take a look at this quadruplet of disgruntled gaffers, assessing how close each one is to being ejected from their respective hot seats.
Steve Bruce (Aston Villa)
Steve Bruce enjoyed a bright start to life at Aston Villa, winning seven and losing only two of his opening 12 matches. However, since beating Burton on Boxing Day the former England interviewee has failed to win a single one of his following nine games, scraping only one point in 2017.
On Tuesday Villa fell to a devastating 3-1 defeat at home to Barnsley, but while the former Hull boss has been promoted out of the Championship a whopping four times, his side’s sudden slump has subsequently raised legitimate concerns that the club could be on course for a second successive relegation.
Five consecutive defeats leaves Villa only seven points clear of safety with 15 matches to play, and if they continue the year as they’ve started it they will be doomed come May.
Bruce’s job is now in serious jeopardy, something that seemed laughable two months ago, but highlights the rapid changing nature of the beautiful game. And, while there is still all the play for, the fixture list makes for grim reading with a daunting trip to table-toppers Newcastle next…
Gianfranco Zola (Birmingham)
Gianfranco Zola’s nightmare tenure at Birmingham City continued as his troops plunged deeper into crisis after slumping to a 2-1 defeat to Preston, leaving the Italian with just one win from 13 games at the helm.
As a result, Birmingham have sunk down to 14th in the Championship, 15 points and eight places adrift of the play-offs. In fact, the Blues are now only 11 points and eight positions above the dreaded drop zone…
Zola has only registered six points from 11 league games at the helm, in contrast to his predecessor Gary Rowett who accumulated 17 points from the final 11 matches before his shock sacking.
Next up for Birmingham is a crunch clash with a similarly out-of-form QPR at St Andrew’s. The R’s have only taken two points from their last five games, but should they return to the capital clutching all three points, then Zola could be toast after less than 10 weeks in the dugout.
Russell Slade (Coventry City)
Russell Slade is still desperately searching for that first league win since taking charge of Coventry at Christmas, bagging only three points from nine games.
Rock-bottom Coventry came within seconds of grabbing their first league win in 15 League One matches on Tuesday, only to concede a heartbreaking last-gasp equaliser to AFC Wimbledon, meaning they are now a sizeable 11 points adrift of safety.
Slade may have led Coventry to Wembley (Football League Trophy), but the Sky Blues are now coming to terms with the fact that they are likely to be playing fourth-tier football next season for the first time since 1958/59.
It’s still difficult to see the club sacking Slade at this moment in time, however the duo are likely to part ways in the summer when his short-term contract comes to an end.
But, there are an increasing band of supporters who are eager for an instant change in the dugout in order to bolster the club’s chances of conjuring up a great escape, or at least build towards next term.
Claudio Ranieri (Leicester)
Claudio Ranieri is the only manager in this band of beleaguered bosses who wasn’t in action on Tuesday night, however he is arguably the one under the most pressure.
Leicester’s plight from champions to relegation strugglers has been alarming. The Foxes are void of confidence, goals, and the team-spirit which was visible in such abundance last season.
By the time Leicester face Liverpool in the league they could remarkably be rooted to the foot of the table, but there are genuine fears that Ranieri could be axed should the Foxes fall to a shock defeat to League One outfit Millwall this weekend (FA Cup 5th round).
Ranieri is currently the 4/7 favourite in the Premier League Sack Race.