The Tuesday Tussle: Five under-fire managers to keep an eye on tonightby Jack Kitson / 07 March 2017, 15:52Tweet
There are a number of crunch clashes across the board tonight in both Europe and the English Football League.
Below we take this opportunity to have a look at Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose future continues to dominate the back pages, along with a trio of under-fire Championship bosses, plus a gaffer from League One who has not enjoyed the best of times of late.
Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Where else to start then with Arsene Wenger who has once again come under an avalanche of pressure following his bizarre decision to axe star man Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal's starting line-up, before crumbling to a costly 3-1 defeat to top-4 rivals Liverpool.
Wenger seemed to be intentionally angering Gunners fans, and to the surprise of absolutely no one dropping Sanchez proved to be both disastrous and dumb.
Arsenal's clash with Bayern Munich tonight is effectively a dead rubber given that they were hammered 5-1 in the first-leg, but while their European dreams will inevitably die for another season, it's crucial that the Gunners put on a positive showing against the German giants.
A win would boost the club's currently fragile confidence ahead of their remaining dozen league matches, however another Bayern battering could prove to have a devastatingly negative impact on the rest of the club's campaign.
Lee Johnson (Bristol City)
Surely it's last chance saloon for Lee Johnson tonight when his relegation-threatened Bristol City side host play-off chasing Norwich City? Although, a multitude of exasperated Robins supporters have believed this to be the case for some time now following a truly abysmal run of form, only for the club's head coach to continue to cling onto his job at Ashton Gate.
The statistics are damning for the under-fire Englishman:
- One win in 16.
- 10 points from an possible 60 from their last 20 matches.
- 22nd in Championship.
Bristol City opened up the campaign with 20 points from 11 matches, putting them 5th in the Championship, and within five points of the summit. Fast-forward to the current day and the Robins have free-falled down into the relegation zone (22nd) after picking up a measly 14 points from their subsequent 24 games.
The only team Johnson's men have beaten in 16 matches since mid-December is rock-bottom Rotherham, who are one of only two clubs that are enduring a worse season than City. An unacceptable 17th loss in 25 Championship matches is likely to be the final straw.
Gianfranco Zola (Birmingham City)
Could Birmingham City become the sixth club from England's top-4 tiers to change their manager for the second time this season? If recent results are anything to go by then yes.
The Blues axed Gary Rowett when the club were level on points with 6th-place Ipswich. Now, 14 Championship matches later, the Midlands side have plummeted down to 17th picking up only nine points under Rowett's successor Gianfranco Zola, in what must go down as one of the most baffling managerial moves in recent years.
Zola has had an absolute shocker since returning to the Championship dugout for the first time since leaving Watford in December 2013. The under-fire Italian has a win percentage of just 12% since his shock appointment, while he's lost a whopping nine of his 14 league games, including four of the last five.
Tonight Zola's defensively fragile Birmingham (17th) lock horns with relegation rivals Wigan (23rd), and while there is currently a nine point gap between the Blues and the bottom-three, this margin could look far less secure come the final whistle.
Paul Lambert (Wolves)
Wolves are currently enduring the worst losing streak in the top-4 tiers, having lost each of their last five Championship games, leaving the club one point above the bottom-three.
All five of those defeats have been by a margin of just one goal, while three of the losses have come within the final 12 minutes.
Boss Paul Lambert is confident that Wolves can reverse the spell and move clear of the relegation zone, however many fans don't share this view. Lambert now pits his wits against a former Wolves boss in Mick McCarthy, who himself has come under pressure this season, however the Championship's longest-serving boss has managed to cling onto his job, with Ipswich Town unbeaten in six.
Karl Robinson (Charlton)
Karl Robinson, similarly to Zola and Lambert, hasn't been in his new job too long, having only been appointed Charlton manager in November. The former MK Dons boss has managed to record just three wins from 18 matches at the helm, the last of which dates back eight games to the back-end of January.
In fact Robinson hasn't managed to pick up a single point from his last four games, meaning Charlton are now in 16th, and only six points clear of the drop zone, raising fears of a second successive relegation.
It's clear that the club's continuing off-field problems are having a huge effect on their performances on the pitch, although it's Robinson who has accepted blame for the south London side's rotten run, which could be extended to five straight defeats should they lose at home to Scunthorpe tonight.