The fascinating nature of the 2014/15 Premier League Sack Raceby Jack Kitson / 19 December 2014, 10:18Tweet
For only the third time in Premier League history we have foraged this far into a season without a single managerial casualty. Despite a flurry of bets on a whole host of gaffers, not one of the 20 bosses who started the campaign in the dugout has wilted under pressure...yet.
It could all have been so different had Tony Pulis' shock departure from Crystal Palace happened 48 hours later. Just two days before the start of the 2014/15 campaign the 2013/14 Premier League Manager of the Season sensationally quit the London club after falling out with the board over transfer funds.
Since Pulis' exit numerous managers have led the Sack Race at various points this term, but as of yet all 20 remain glued to their positions. As Christmas Day rapidly approaches we have one last wave of top-flight matches this weekend, and with the likes of Nigel Pearson, Alan Irvine and Brendan Rodgers all teetering on the brink, surely something has to give?
Below we take an in-depth look at why the 2014/15 Premier League Sack Race has so far proved to be such a gripping affair.
Why hasn't there been a Premier League sacking yet?
There have been a flurry of reasons thrown forward as to why the top-flight has been absent from the manager merry-go-round this term; ranging from chairmen going soft, to the titanic cost of paying-off a manager, or even the virtue of patience making a surprising comeback to the beautiful game.
You could make a valid case for each argument, but it's the compressed nature of this season is what springs out, which has in turn produced a volatile market, with the likes of Harry Redknapp, Alan Irvine, Nigel Pearson, Sean Dyche, Paul Lambert, Steve Bruce, Mauricio Pochettino, Sam Allardyce, Brendan Rodgers, Arsene Wenger, Manuel Pellegrini in trouble in the Sack Race at some point this term, proving that fortunes can change very quickly.
At the time of writing only nine points separate Stoke in 12th from rock-bottom Leicester. Meanwhile, despite their well-documented troubles, 11th placed Liverpool only trail the top-4 by seven points. Teams are changing positions so frequently, with not a single side being left behind at the foot of the table, whereas the recent rejuvenence of both Manchester teams has ignited what had previously been a hailed as Chelsea's one man mission to win the title.
Alternatively many top-flight chairmen have taken into account the staggering turnarounds at West Ham and Newcastle, where despite considerable pressure Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew have not only clung onto their jobs but made a mockery of the Sack Race.
Both bosses were constantly on the firing line throughout the second-half of last season, and while they each managed to keep their respective jobs during the summer, the avalanche of criticism directed their way continued into the new campaign. Now, 16 games into the current crusade, the Hammers are flying high in 4th, while the Toon are five points behind in 8th following a remarkable transition, which has seen the club accumulate 19 points from their last nine games (including a four game winning streak), in startling contrast to a pitiful tally of four points from their opening seven fixtures.
Throughout the course of this season chairmen have no doubt been tempted to pull the trigger, but the evidence from above indicates that continuing to back a manager can have a positive effect on a team. On the other hand replacing a boss doesn't always have the desired effect e.g. Fulham (twice), Cardiff and Norwich all sacked gaffers last season, but in the end the trio all suffered the dreaded drop.
Record Breaking Season?
Earlier this month the top-flight sailed past the landmark date of 7th December, meaning it's now remarkably been 18 years since we have ventured this far into a season without a single managerial casualty.
The next key breakthrough is the 2nd January 2015, and if the Premier League reaches this point with no departures then it will be just over a month away from breaking the all-time record, which was set way back in the inaugural season (1992/93), when Chelsea's Kevin Porterfield eventually become the first boss to lose his job on February 15th 1993.
It's the season to be...
...anything but jolly if you're a manager. The festive period of the football calendar is jam-packed with a whole host of matches: with each club involved in eight games from the last weekend of November through to New Year's Day. There is plenty of time for tetchy chairman, disgruntled fans, and the ubiquitous eye of the media to lambast a gaffer all the way out through the exit door.
We skated through Black November, and while there were numerous cracks, there were no falls. History tells us that December is a dangerous month in the top-flight, only last season we witnessed four managers - Martin Jol, Andre Villas-Boas, Steve Clarke and Malky Mackay - lose their jobs.
Now, with the likes of Alan Irvine, Nigel Pearson and Brendan Rodgers all in trouble, it would come as no surprise if one or more managers crumbled before we make it into the New Year. The danger is that one sacking could lead to a domino effect, throwing what had previously been a refreshingly subdued managerial season into absolute chaos.
Business as usual in The Football League manager-merry-go-round
In staggering contrast to the relative tranquility of the Premier League, down in the three-tiers of the Football League there have been a deluge of comings-and-goings. As we head into the final weekend before Christmas there have been 27 departures spread across the three leagues. In fact the recent dismissal of Nigel Adkins by Reading means that nearly half (32) of the 72 Football League managers have been in charge of their clubs for less than a year.
The Championship in particular is a minefield for managers: So far this season 13 gaffers have been hurled through the exit door. Despite their consistently high position since the dawn of the campaign Watford are remarkably on their fourth manager this term, while Leeds are on their third boss, which is perhaps no surprise given the trigger-happy nature of Massimo Cellino, who infamously dispensed off 36 managers in 22 years at Italian side Cagliari. However, by no means have the other two divisions been exempt from the action, with League One witnessing five managerial changes, while there have been nine in League Two.