Three under fire Championship managers

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 01 February 2017, 14:32

So far this season 10 Championship managers have been sent to the guillotine, but we have had two-and-a-half-weeks of relatively serenity since Nottingham Forest sent Philippe Montanier packing, which you may be surprised to hear is the only second-tier departure in the last seven weeks.

However, this could soon be about to change, with a trio of gaffers under-pressure in the dugout.

Gianfranco Zola (Birmingham City)

What a disastrous start Gianfranco Zola has had to life at Birmingham City.

In mid-December the Italian replaced Gary Rowett in one of the most perplexing and ludicrous managerial switches in recent years.

Birmingham’s bold and baffling decision has ultimately backfired in staggering fashion, with the Blues free-falling from serious play-off contenders to the No Man’s Land that is mid-table (12th).

It's now been 10 league and cup matches since Zola's surprise appointment and he is still searching for that elusive first win at the helm. His troops have lost six of those games, while he’s picked up just three points from a possible 24 on offer from the Championship, leaving Blues fans frustrated, to say the least.

Gianfranco Zola’s Career Win %

West Ham = 28%

Watford = 44%

Cagliari = 20%

Al-Arabi SC = 38%

Birmingham = 0%

The pressure appears to have got to Zola too, with the 50-year-old hitting out at Reading fans who taunted him with chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning”, and “there’s only one Gary Rowett” during and after the club’s 1-0 defeat on Tuesday (Daily Mirror).

Can Zola turn things around?

The next five games are crucial. The club's upcoming three fixtures are against teams that are just outside the play-offs (Fulham, Sheff Wed, and Preston), swiftly followed by games with QPR and Wolves, who have both improved significantly in recent weeks.

Mick McCarthy (Ipswich Town)

Mick McCarthy came under an avalanche of pressure last month after his Ipswich side were booted out of the FA Cup by non-league Lincoln City.

Fast-forward two weeks and the under-fire gaffer has yet to win a game since, losing to Huddersfield and Derby, with a draw against Preston sandwiched in between.

Tuesday’s wretched 3-0 loss at home to Derby was the club’s biggest home defeat in over four years, and it’s fair to say that fans are far from pleased with how the season has panned out to date, with the Tractor Boys down in 17th.

The January transfer window proved to be a frustrating one for McCarthy (focusing on quantity rather than quality) whose future remains in serious jeopardy.

McCarthy is currently the longest-serving manager in the Championship, while only seven gaffers in the top-4 tiers have been at their club’s longer than the 57-year-old.

But for how much longer…? Ipswich face the high-flying trio of Reading, Brighton and Leeds in the next few weeks…

Lee Johnson (Bristol City)

Bristol City may have picked up their first Championship point in nine games (2-2 with Sheff Wed) dating back to early December, but the stark reality is that their shocking form over the last few months (one win in 14 league matches) has dragged the club into a relegation dogfight.

Is sacking Lee Johnson the answer?

Arguably not, but the young manager needs wins, and fast, otherwise the Robins are in real danger of sinking into the drop zone.

Johnson has enjoyed a decent transfer window, stealing both Matty Taylor from rivals Bristol Rovers, and David Cotterill (on loan) on Deadline Day, which could well prove to be the boost the club so desperately needs.

It will have to be.

Unfortunately for City four of their next five games are away from home (three of those opponents are chasing promotion), which is worrying considering that Johnson’s travel-shy troops have only picked up eight points from a possible 42 on the road this term, with their last away victory stretching all the way back to September.

Lee Johnson


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