The Last 10 "Winners" Of The Sack Raceby Jack Kitson / 04 August 2017, 10:51Tweet
The 2017/18 Premier League season is agonisingly close, and as the feverish excitement and anticipation builds to an almost uncontrollable level, we take a look at what history tells us about the last 10 “winners” of the chaotic Premier League Sack Race.
We say the word “winners”, but we of course mean losers, as we are talking about those managers who crumbled under the pressure before everyone else. For argument’s sake we have plucked out the sacked/departed managers who lost their jobs from the start of the season. So the likes of Tony Pulis (Crystal Palace) and Steve Bruce (Hull) have not been included as they left their positions before the campaign had got under way.
Right, we start off with Francesco Guidolin who suffered the ignominy of “winning” (losing) last season’s top-flight Sack Race. In a swift, and surprising move, Swansea hurled the Italian out of the exit door, and in turn instantly announced Bob Bradley as their left-field new gaffer. However, the decision backfired as only 85 days and 13 games later the Premier League’s first American boss was sacked.
Paul Clement then became Swansea’s third manager of the season and went on to save the Swans from nosediving out of the division. The Englishman is currently out at 16/1 to be the first casualty of the upcoming campaign.
Guidolin’s departure came almost a year to the day of the double sacking of Dick Advocaat (Sunderland) and Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool), who in 2015/16 were both axed on 4 October, although it was the former who was given the boot first (just).
Back in 2014/15 we had to wait until after Christmas for the first departure as Neil Warnock, who only replaced Tony Pulis in August, was sent packing following a poor run of form. Pulis, now at West Brom, is priced at 16/1 to be given the boot, while Warnock is in the second-tier attempting to lead Cardiff back into the Premier League.
Sunderland have been responsible for a whopping three of the last six first managerial casualties of the season - Advocaat, Paolo Di Canio, and Steve Bruce - however, perhaps fortunately for the Black Cats they are unable to boost that unwanted tally to four first-time sackings in seven seasons as they have dropped down a division. But, new boss Simon Grayson will be nervously looking over his shoulder in the Championship Sack Race should his troops stutter out of the blocks.
Di Canio famously saved Sunderland from the dreaded drop at the backend of the 2012/13 season, but the fiery Italian was axed just five league matches into the campaign, with the Black Cats rock-bottom of the table. Di Canio has since been linked with a plethora of posts, but unfortunately this controversial character has yet to return to the dugout.
Staying in the North East it was Newcastle who rather harshly axed Chris Hughton back in December 2010, not long after he’d led the club back into the Premier League. It’s the Magpies’ current incumbent Rafa Benitez who finds himself as one of the early favourites (4/1) to be the first 2017/18 Premier League manager to fall victim to the dreaded Sack Race. The Spaniard, who led the Toon Army to the Championship title last term, has endured a frustrating transfer window, with fans nervous that he could suddenly walk away from St James’ Park.
A Sack Race legend, Alan Curbishley (please come back Alan), resigned from his post at West Ham in September 2008, citing frustrating with the club’s transfer policy as his reason for leaving. Despite being linked with a plethora of jobs he’s sadly not been seen in the dugout since.
The month of September also swallowed up Jose Mourinho who remarkably left Chelsea 10 years ago this September. Mourinho previously won the title in each of the prior two campaigns, but his relationship with owner Roman Abramovich was beyond repair. The Portuguese coach later returned to Stamford Bridge for a second spell, hoisting the title once again in 2014/15.
Mourinho is now, of course, at the helm of Man Utd with whom (at the second attempt) he’ll be bidding to lead to the top-flight title, which has alarmingly been missing from Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson retired back in 2013. But, while the title is the target, you never really know what’s going to happen with Mourinho, whose a 50/1 outsider to be sacked first.
Other managers who have fallen victim to the Sack Race are Roberto Di Matteo, mere months after leading Chelsea to a miraculous Champions League and FA Cup double, and Paul Hart (Portsmouth) who was given the boot after a rotten start to the 2009/10 campaign.
In terms of timings of the first sacking, each of the departures over the last 10 seasons have come before the New Year, with three apiece in September and November, while October and December are responsible for two each.