Fantasy football managers hate international breaks. There are no league games to watch, and we must sweat over the potential for our prized fantasy assets to suffer injuries (and now Covid-19 exposure) while on duty for their countries.
Real-life managers dread international breaks too. Like us, they lie awake at night fretting over the health and fitness of their international players. But some of them also worry about job security: International breaks provide clubs with a natural window to bring in new coaches to replace managers whose teams have underperformed.
Predicting who will be the next to fall is almost a sport unto itself. It is a source of constant speculation in bars and pubs around the globe, and multiple betting sites maintain odds for each Prem manager’s likelihood of being the next to be given thumbs-down, shown the door, heaved over the side and sacrificed (sac’d) like a pawn in the multi-billion pound chess match that is modern professional football.
With 20% of the 2020-21 campaign already behind us, and with an international break now ahead of us, we could soon see the season’s first managerial casualty. Who will he be?
Chris Wilder (Sheffield United)
- Position in table: 20th
- EPL record: 0-1-7; 4 goals scored, 14 conceded
- Points: 1
- Other competitions: Eliminated from Carabao Cup in 2nd round (first game)
- 2019-20 season: 14-12-12, 9th place
What a difference a season makes. Having guided his newly-promoted Sheffield United to a top-half finish in the 2019-20 campaign, Chris Wilder was considered a strong contender for the EPL’s manager of the year. But fast-forward to this season, and Blades find themselves bottom of the table and out of the Carabao Cup after their very first match. And all this despite a £50M summer spend.
There is no denying that Wilder has built up a deep bank of goodwill with Blades fans, having taken them from League One to the Prem in the span of just four years. But after a nasty court battle, the man who appointed him, long-time owner Kevin McCabe, has now been ousted by Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. It is doubtful that Wilder’s new boss will allow emotional ties and sentimentality to influence his financial calculations.
Consequently Wilder is under heavy pressure to rediscover some of last year’s magic, or he could be the first manager to suffer the axe this season.
Betting odds that Chris Wilder will be the next Premier League manager sacked:
- betfair: 12/1
- betvictor: 12/1
- Paddy Power 12/1
Sean Dyche (Burnley)
- Position in table: 19th
- EPL record: 0-2-5; 3 goals scored, 12 conceded
- Points: 2
- Other competitions: Eliminated from Carabao Cup in Round of 16 (third game)
- 2019-20: 15-9-14; 10th place
Sean Dyche has held the reins at Burnley for the past eight years — a virtual eternity for a top-flight manager. He has twice won his club promotion to the Prem, the first time breaking club records that had stood for more than a century. In 2018 Dyche won a seventh-place finish that qualified Burnley for the Europa League for the first time in more than fifty years. And although the Clarets failed to qualify for Europe last season, they did finish in the top half of the table — an admirable accomplishment for a club of Burnley’s resources.
But this season Dyche seems to have lost his way, as the Clarets are still without a league win and were dumped from the Carabao Cup in the Round of 16. Is the “Ginger Mourinho’s” long reign at Turf Moor coming to an end?
Betting odds that Sean Dyche will be the next Premier League manager sacked:
- betfair: 10/1
- betvictor: 16/1
- Paddy Power: 12/1
Slaven Bilic (West Brom)
- Position in table: 18th
- EPL record: 0-3-5; 6 goals scored; 17 conceded
- Points: 3
- Other competitions: Eliminated from Carabao Cup in third round (second game)
- 2019-20 season: 22-17-7 in Championship; 2nd place
Named manager of West Brom ahead of the 2019-20 season, Bilic won promotion for the Baggies at his first opportunity. Unfortunately, he has been unable to reproduce that success in the Prem. His side continues to search for its first league win, and it was bounced from the Carabao Cup in in the third round by Championship side Brentford.
Many believed Sunday’s game against Tottenham would be do-or-die for Bilic, but unfortunately, the game ended in yet another defeat. It could now be curtains for the Croat.
Betting odds that Slaven Bilic will be the next Premier League manager sacked:
- betfair: 21/10
- betvictor: 6/4
- Paddy Power: 21/10
Scott Parker (Fulham)
- Position in table: 17th
- EPL record: 1-1-6; 7 goals scored, 15 conceded
- Points: 4
- Other competitions: Eliminated from Carabao Cup in Round of 16 (third game)
- 2019-20: 23-12-11 in Championship, 4th place
Scott Parker succeeded Claudio Ranieri as Fulham’s manager in February of 2019 with the club mired in 19th place. Parker took only nine points from the Cottagers’ remaining nine games, and ultimately they were relegated to the Championship. But he brought them right back up to the Prem, finishing in 4th place and winning promotion through a 2-1 victory over Brentford in the play-off final.
So far, this season has been a repeat of their last failed Premier League campaign. Their sole victory came at the expense of 18th-place West Brom, and they were eliminated from the Carabao Cup after three games. Over the weekend they had a chance to split precious points with West Ham through an injury-time penalty kick, but Ademola Lookman fluffed his lines with this tragic Panenka fail:
With his club now dangling just one point above the drop, American owner Shahid Khan could decide to drop Parker first.
Betting odds that Scott Parker is the next Premier League manager sacked:
- betfair: 13/5
- betvictor: 5/1
- Paddy Power: 13/5
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United)
- Position in table: 14th
- EPL record: 3-1-3; 12 goals scored, 14 conceded
- Points: 10
- Other competitions: through to quarterfinals of Carabao Cup; 2-1 and top of table in UCL group
- 2019-20: 18-12-8, 3rd place
How is it that a manager whose team is not at the foot of the table is part of a conversation about sacking? Because he manages Manchester United, where the scrutiny is crushing and the expectations are as stratospheric as the wage bill.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s managerial debut at Old Trafford was spectacular. In his first game he thrashed his former club Cardiff 5-1 on 22 December 2018 — the first time United had scored five or more goals since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match in May of 2013. OGS then went on to win his next four league games as well, something that no new United manager had done since 1946. He was riding high on a unicorn draped in rainbows.
The streak was ended at six league wins, and eight across all competitions, but the Norwegian’s success earned him Premier League Manager of the Month for January 2019. His record of 25 points from his first nine league games is an accomplishment that no other EPL manager has ever achieved, and the win at Crystal Palace on 26 February 2019 set a club record of eight consecutive away wins across all competitions. In March, having won 14 of his 19 games in charge, the caretaker was offered a permanent three-year contract.
But despite all his initial success, he was only able to manage a 6th place finish on 66 points in 2018-19. He duplicated that points total again last season, but in that campaign it proved good enough for 3rd — only the second time MUN had finished in the top three since SAF’s retirement. But last season the Red Devils also suffered defeats the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Carabao Cup, and the Europa League, so it would be yet another season with no silverware.
The hot-and-cold inconsistency has continued into this year. OGS opened the season with losses to newly-promoted Aston Villa and Crystal Palace before pulling off a smash-and-grab win against Brighton with a dying-moments PK goal. United’s next league match was a shambolic 1-6 defeat at the hands of Tottenham. The loss was their joint-worst ever in the Premier League, and Ole called it the worst day of his managerial career.
But OGS promptly redeemed himself by stacking a big Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain on top of a 4-1 league victory over Newcastle. He then played Chelsea to a scoreless draw before orchestrating a scintillating 5-0 win over RB Leipzig in the UCL. But in typical OGS fashion, he promptly lost to Arsenal at Old Trafford before suffering a humiliating Champions League defeat at the hands of lowly Istanbul Basaksehir.
With both the board room and the fan base tired of the ups and downs and the lack of trophies, many expected OGS to be sacked if he failed to get a result at Goodison Park on Saturday. Almost predictably he won, once again doing just enough to relieve the immediate pressure. But has he only postponed the inevitable?
Betting odds that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the next Premier League manager sacked:
- betfair: 1/1
- betvictor: 2/1
- Paddy Power: 1/1
Are you surprised that the manager most at risk of losing his job is the one who is ranked higher than the others in the table? Which of these men deserve to be fired, and which are under pressure unfairly? Is there anyone else in contention? And of course, sacking one manager opens a door to appointing another, so whom would you recommend as a worthy replacement for anyone you’d jettison? Please take the poll and tell us your thoughts in the comments!
Stats and info for this article sourced from dailymail.com, thesackrace.com, gq-magazine.co.uk, and wikipedia.com.
Which EPL manager will be the first to be sacked?
This poll is closed
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Other (please specify in Comments)