Five Premier League Managers Who Must Hit The Ground Running Come Augustby Richard Smith / 27 June 2012, 09:22Tweet
The new football season is fast approaching and pre-season training and friendlies are just around the corner and with it, the debate we're having in The Sack Race office is which of the Premier League managers will be feeling the pressure from the first kick of a ball on Saturday 18th August?
With so much expectation on all 20 top flight managers, it is a wonder that any of them have an appetite for the job, just ask any of the seven managers that sat in the dug out on the first day of the 2011/2012 campaign, who found themselves surplus to requirements come the season's conclusion.
Will 2012/2013 see a similar number of changes take place? Here we look at five managers who must hit the ground running or face the pressure!
Success is ultimately what everyone wants but common sense tells us that as far as the Premier League is concerned, not every team can be successful and every manager, chairman and fans will have a different definition of success depending on who their team is. For some teams in the Premier League, winning trophies or qualifying for the Champions League is the only measure of success, whilst others are happy to continue mixing it with English football's elite season on season.
Winning a trophy would normally be enough to call a season a success but that was not the case at Liverpool last season, whose American owners sacked Kenny Dalglish after he managed to guide the club to success in the Carling Cup. The fact that Liverpool were runners up in the FA Cup and finished in 8th place in the league were seemingly not enough for a club that clearly expects more. One wonders therefore what New England Sports Ventures and Liverpool fans expect from Dalglish’s replacement, Brendan Rodgers?
The abrupt ending to Roy Hodgson’s tenure at Anfield illustrates the lack of patience for a return to the glory days at Liverpool and one has to fear that unless Rodgers finds the winning formula pretty quick on Merseyside, he too could feel the pressure early on in his reign. As such, the former Swansea boss comes out on top in the Sack Race's Premier League Pressure Rankings.
Chelsea won both the FA Cup and Champions League last season but had to sack Andre Villas-Boas, the manager that they had appointed at the start of proceedings, to do so. It was AVB's temporary replacement, Roberto Di Matteo, that turned the club's fortunes around and guided the Blues FA Cup and Champions League success before the Italian had to wait an agonising month before being given the job on a full time basis.
Di Matteo now has the onerous task of continuing the good work that he has started and Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich, will expect or accept nothing less than more silverware.
The delay in appointing Di Matteo on a permanent contract speaks volumes and his appointment may have been more through obligation than a his perceived abilities by Abramovich to establish Chelsea as a European force. Anything less than a comfortable position in the top four from the off could see Di Matteo feeling the pressure and given that he's probably on a fraction of the wages that previous managers have been on, it won't cost the club too much money to part company with him and the fact that Harry Redknapp is in the wings ready to step in could act as a catalyst...
The Premier League's two longest serving and oldest managers, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have had no such fears of losing their jobs for some time at their clubs. However, neither Manchester United nor Arsenal won a thing last season (seven seasons in the Gunners case) but were still good enough to qualify for the Champions League which is arguably the minimum either club expect.
Should both United and Arsenal finish without silverware in 2013, then even these two old warhorses could begin to feel the pinch, particularly if their respective league campaigns stutter and/or an early Champions League exit is made. Both teams finished last season with plenty of questions unanswered about their immediate and long term futures and whilst Manchester United would never sack Sir Alex Ferguson it could be possible that he is made aware that their services are no longer required and any timescale about his impending retirement could be brought forward.
With expectations getting higher all the time, the minimum requirement for a Premier League manager is to keep his club in the top flight. The moment that looks like running into difficulty often sees the board take speedy action which usually spells trouble for the newcomers promoted from the Championship. The three managers of Reading, Southampton and West Ham will be well aware that it will be vital for them to make a good start but having just won promotion, some grace is usually given by their clubs should they falter and Brian McDermott, Nigel Adkins and Sam Allardyce should all be safe.
However, no such grace will given to Mark Hughes at Queens Park Rangers should he not show signs of improvement at Loftus Road and another season flirting with relegation may begin the search for the West London club's 15th managerial change in six years!
The Sack Race's Premier League Pressure Rankings 2012/2013
#1 Brendan Rodgers
#2 Roberto Di Matteo
#3 Sir Alex Ferguson
#4 Arsene Wenger
#5 Mark Hughes