The Sack Race 2018/19 Premier League Predictions

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 08 August 2018, 14:33

The Sack Race’s Premier League Predictions are back, with our dedicated band of writers having their say on which manager will crumble first, who will stand alone at the summit and win the top-flight title, plus the boss that could surprise a few people this term.

Here we go....

Jack Kitson

First Managerial Casualty - Claude Puel

Claude Puel clung onto his job at the end of last season, but has since been backed during the summer with the likes of James Maddison, Ricardo Pereira and Rachid Ghezzal arriving at the King Power, however he is now without Riyad Mahrez, a huge loss.

The Frenchman was a 10/1 shot for the sack when the market first opened last month, but now he’s now shortened into the 3/1 favourite in the betting. Predecessor Craig Shakespeare was sent packing eight league games into the previous campaign, and a sluggish start to the upcoming season - Leicester face Man United and Liverpool early on - means Puels would be toast.

Title Winning Manager - Pep Guardiola

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have enjoyed a cracking summer in terms of recruitment and results, and the Merseyside club will be gunning to mount a concrete title challenge this season.

However, Pep Guardiola’s Man City are the deserved favourites for glory as the Citizens bid to become the first back-to-back winners since Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United who won three on the spin between 2007 and 2009, although I at least expect the other main contenders to mount a stronger challenge this time around.

Surprise Package - Slavisa Jokanovic

Slavisa Jokanovic finally makes his bow in the Premier League as a manager, and I personally can’t wait to see his entertaining Fulham side take on the country’s top dogs. The Cottagers have every reason to feel confident that they can make an impact in their first season back in the promised land since 2013/14, and can be backed at a tempting 5/1 to finish in the top-10.

Twitter: @jack_kitson

Chloe Beresford

First Managerial Casualty - Jose Mourinho

It seems to me like it could be Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. His complaining from last season has rumbled on into the summer, and if anything he's become even more negative, and is perhaps even trying to get himself sacked. He is clearly not happy and the toxic atmosphere that this brings will not be helping the players whatsoever.

Title Winning Manager - Pep Guardiola

Looking at just how much Manchester City dominated the league last season, I would have to say Pep Guardiola once again, although I think this time Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp might give them a run for their money even if the outcome remains the same.

Surprise Package - Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri has arrived at Chelsea with a big reputation for playing beautiful football, however with better players than during his Napoli days, he could surprise everyone by making a title bid if he can get his players to buy into his precise methods. He has never managed in England before, nor has he ever won a trophy, but he could just be the next big thing in English football.

Twitter: @ChloeJBeresford

Gabriel Sutton

First Managerial Casualty - Jose Mourinho

There's been a sense of crisis at Manchester United, even in pre-season. Mourinho is already a divisive figure at Old Trafford due to the uninspiring football The Red Devils have played under his tenure.

He claimed Antonio Valencia had been on holiday for too long, that Anthony Martial spent too much time away attending to his new baby, he pointed out that the Under-23s team had been relegated and that the next level age group are too young to make an impact. While we can debate whether or not these points are fair, the danger is that those comments might alienate some of the players and the fanbase.

Title Winning Manager - Jurgen Klopp

In contrast with Mourinho, Klopp appears to build warm relationships with everyone at Liverpool by smiling, showing lots of passion, taking his job more seriously than himself and giving out lots of hugs. Cuddle-fests alone won't win titles, obviously, but it can make a massive difference to the mind-set of players if they feel they have a manager who connects with them on a personal level.

Not only that, the Reds have strengthened in almost every position that was potentially problematic: Alisson is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe while Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri should add tenacity, dynamism and flair respectively. Oh, and Salah, Firmino and Mane aren't bad either.

Surprise Package - Nuno Espirito Santo

What a job Santo has done at Wolves! Under his guidance, the likes of Matt Doherty, Romain Saiss and Ivan Cavaleiro went up another level. Of course, he is helped by having one of the best deep-lying playmakers in England in Ruben Neves and the technically proficient Championship title-winning squad is now joined by elite footballers in Rui Patricio, Jonny and Joao Moutinho.

The Midlanders won’t have the European distractions, nor the pressure, that comes with being part of the establishment, so while their world-class head coach is around to elevate players to new heights, the possibilities, at Molineux, are endless.

Twitter: @_FootbalLab

Matthew Crist

First Managerial Casualty - Jose Mourinho

They say the bookies are rarely wrong and the fact that José Mourinho’s odds to leave Old Trafford have plummeted speaks volumes to me; though you don’t have to be a serious punter to know that something isn’t right with the so-called “Special One” and his current employers.

His demeanor resembles a prisoner of war who has spent six months in captivity with limited rations and little in the way of daylight while his rants and moans more than suggest to me that this is a man who is not happy in his job or knows he’s on borrowed time – probably both.

Title Winning Manager - Jurgen Klopp

For a manager who hasn’t won a trophy in three years Jurgen Klopp has been afforded a lot of time both by the fans and by the media; but surely if Liverpool are to go potless again this season questions will have to be asked, especially after spending so much in the transfer market.

However, in my opinion the German won’t have to worry about such a backlash as the team he has painstakingly assembled at Anfield is more than capable of overcoming the threat of Manchester City and winning the league for the first time in nearly three decades.

Surprise Package - Manuel Pellegrini

After the rigmarole of moving to an unpopular stadium, not to mention the on-field turmoil that a succession of different managers has brought with it, this could just be the season that West Ham get their relatively new house in order.

The Irons board have certainly backed their latest boss, who won the title with Manchester City in 2014, to the tune of almost £100 million by bringing in the likes of Andriy Yarmolenko, Fabian Balbuena and Felipe Anderson to the club and Hammers fans will be hoping that this is a genuine statement of intent rather than just another false dawn – and who could blame them for such optimism?

Twitter: @Matthewjcrist

Mike Holden

First Managerial Casualty - Jose Mourinho

You get the impression Mourinho is just lighting fires for the sake of lighting fires now. If the ultimate objective is to land himself a hefty compensation package before Christmas, then he appears to be going about his business like a seasoned pro. It's looking like United would have to do an awful lot of business in the next 24 hours for the Portuguese to drop his petty agendas and concentrate on the football again.

Title Winning Manager - Pep Guardiola

Liverpool appear to be the likeliest challengers to City but they finished 25 points behind last season and that's a huge gap to close in one transfer window. It should be more of a contest this time around but the challengers need City to drop off a cliff when most of the evidence would suggest they are reaching the point in their development where they impose Guardiola's ideas on auto-pilot.

Surprise Package - Slavisa Jokanovic

It might take Fulham a while to find their stride but the Serbian is capable of moulding a cohesive unit that registers a comfortable top-half finish. Jokanovic was denied the opportunity to manage at this level with Watford three years ago and while the Watford model isn't one that depends on the ability of the manager, Jokanovic can show what an error of judgement it was by the Pozzos to let him go.

Twitter: @Ratings_Mike

Steve Chambers

First Managerial Casualty - Neil Warnock

He worked wonders to guide Cardiff City to automatic promotion last season, but Neil Warnock has often found life tough in the Premier League, and it won't be long before the Bluebirds quest to avoid relegation hits a stumbling block and Warnock will be shown the door in favour of more experienced Premier League boss.

Title Winning Manager - Pep Guardiola

Much has been made of Liverpool's signings in the off-season, but they still lack the strength in depth at Pep Guardiola's disposal for the season ahead, and while Manchester City won't equal last year's century of points, they will comfortably retain their title with a few games to go.

Surprise Package - Marco Silva

An eighth placed finish for Everton last season may look good on the face of it, but having only amassed 49 points it was hardly a sensational campaign, but Marco Silva appears to be putting his own stamp on the Toffees squad ahead of the new season, and having freshened up his squad and removed some of the experienced players from the squad that may have brought a staleness to the club, Silva can now kick on with his current crop, and shock a few along the way.

Twitter: @SteveChambers86

Sean Raymond

First Managerial Casualty - Javi Gracia

The Spaniard only arrived mid way through last season but Watford are already being picked by many as relegation candidates. The Hornets have form with short term managerial appointments meaning the former Malaga man could easily himself under pressure pretty quickly if results don't go his way.

Title Winning Manager - Pep Guardiola

Man City dominated the Premier League last season with a stunning brand of football and even if the Citizens drop away slightly, they will still be far too strong for the rest. In Pep we trust.

Surprise Package - Unai Emery

I don't expect Arsenal to be in the top four this season but the Gunners can make major strides towards the future with a manager who is wildly underrated. Emery worked wonders at Sevilla and although it is too big an ask to be challenging right at the top, I do expect a much improved Arsenal to be making their first steps towards challenging the big boys once again.

Twitter: @seanraymond

Chris Knight

First Managerial Casualty - Javi Gracia

Watford enjoy the benefit of a relatively kind start to the season with fixtures against Brighton, Burnley, and Crystal Palace in their first three games, but I'm not convinced that they will make the most of the fixture list. The Hornets lost some key players over the summer and are relying on the talented but inconsistent Gerard Deulofeu to sparkle. Gracia at 9/1 to be first manager gone looks good, particularly as Watford's owners aren't renowned for sticking with their man.

Title Winning Manager - Pep Guardiola

Quite simply, the best manager with the best squad and the best team. The only thing that could stop City is their apparent focus on the Champions League but they have the strength in depth to challenge on all fronts.

Surprise Package - Slavisa Jokanovic

Much to admire about the Fulham manager as he has guided the Cottagers back to the top-flight for the first time since 2014 and he has made some astute signings over the summer. Fulham should be a joy to watch and could even be pushing for a top-half finish.

Twitter: @CKnightSport

Simon Lillicrap

First Managerial Casualty - Mark Hughes

The clueless Saints are going to struggle this season and looking at the rest of the market there are several managers in more secure jobs than the Southampton man. Hughes will struggle to fire up his Southampton side and it won't be long before he is dismissed by the board.

Title Winning Manager - Pep Guardiola

I don't think any club will be able to compete with City again this season. Simply too good for the rest of the league, although I do believe it will be a closer race for the title this season.

Surprise Package - Claude Puel

Heavy favourite for the sack (3/1) I think he will prove his doubters wrong and impress with an exciting Leicester team who could finish in the top 7.

Twitter: @simonlillicrap

Michael Bates

First Managerial Casualty - Jose Mourinho

He's spent pre-season trying to talk himself out of a job and falling out with the management within the club, maybe just be a plan for him to avoid buying the round at the Christmas do and avoiding the Secret Santa.

Title Winning Manager - Jurgen Klopp

It's now or never for the manager to prove himself at the top top level - he will face stiff competition with Guardiola but with my crystal ball I see City slipping up against at least one of the Premier League newcomers.

Surprise Package - Nuno Santo

Nuno, Nuno, Nuno may not be a surprise as I expect a lot of people are expecting great things after their Portuguese spending spree but he has the perfect chance to make it as a season to remember for the Molineux faithfull.

Twitter: @IRAIWmedia

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Gary Bowyer
Gary Bowyer
(Blackpool)
6th August
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