The Premier League season may only be seven games old, but we have seen plenty to suggest that the managerial axe is set to fall sooner or later.
Brendan Rodgers was the early bookmakers’ favourite after his Liverpool side went four games without a win in the league and required a penalty shootout to stumble past Carlisle United in the Capital One Cup. The pressure was well and truly on, and it was rumoured that defeat against Aston Villa on Saturday would have cost the Irishman his job.
So he would have been thankful for the stunning return to form of Daniel Sturridge – making only his second start since recovering from hip surgery. His two goals were the difference between the two sides, and despite Rudy Gestede’s brace for the Villains Liverpool held on to record a 3-2 victory; and buy their beleaguered boss some extra time in the hot seat. Rodgers’ ‘sack race’ odds have lengthened to a best price of 6/4 (Betfair) accordingly.
Beleaguered Black Cats
All of the above is bad news for Dick Advocaat, who has now gone favourite in this most unpredictable of markets.
His Sunderland team have yet to register their first win of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign, and having conceded 16 goals in just 7 games there is a suggestion that – tactically, organisationally or otherwise – Advocaat is a bit out of his depth.
The Dutchman was ready to walk away from the Black Cats in the summer after guiding them to top flight safety on the final day of last season, and after an ‘interesting’ transfer window in which he forked out a combined £21 million on Fabio Borini, Younes Kaboul and the unheralded Jeremain Lens, the heat was on.
After such a poor start, and tabloid rumours of player unrest at the Stadium of Light, it is perhaps no surprise that Advocaat is as short as 5/6 (Sky Bet), whilst the 5/4 offered by BetVictor looks a fantastic investment.
Hughes A Marked Man
If you’re looking for value elsewhere, then perhaps Stoke City gaffer Mark Hughes is a decent punt at 50/1 (Coral). He has been in the dugout at the Brittania Stadium for more than two years, and has led his side to two consecutive ninth place finishes.
But in the name of progression and forward motion, the board of directors will be hoping to be challenging for a top six spot this season. And after a below-par opening in which they have won just one of their seven Premier League matches to date, that looks a tough ask already.
On ‘Sparky’s’ side is the fact that he isn’t a particularly big spender by nature, and so can’t be accused of a poor record in the transfer market – one of the usual death knells for a manager. But what will be galling for supporters of the Potteries outfit is that he sanctioned the sale of Steven N’Zonzi, Asmir Begovic and Robert Huth: three of the club’s best performers in recent years. And it is that kind of decision-making that can lead to the printing of a P45.
It is also noticeable that, by bringing in the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan, Stoke are looking to banish the long ball approach favoured by former boss Tony Pulis and adopt a more continental philosophy. They may, as a result, look to the continent for a more ‘fashionable’ manager than Hughes.
Stoke’s next three matches are against Aston Villa (away), Swansea (away) and Watford (home). You would think that anything less than four points from that trio could be catastrophic for the 51-year-old.
Klopp Waits With Interest
Another way to view the ‘sack race’ betting market is to consider the managerial alternatives that are available to chairmen at the moment, and see where they fit accordingly.
The highly-rated Jurgen Klopp, for example, is on a sabbatical from the game after leaving his post at Borussia Dortmund, but you would assume that a return to management – if the time/place was right – would be welcomed by the German.
And that has reportedly alerted John W Henry at Liverpool, with The Express even going as far to report that he has ‘made contact’ with Klopp’s representatives.
How quickly the deal – if any – is made will determine how the Next Premier League Manager To Leave Post market is affected, but for now you’d have to conclude that Dick Advocaat is the smart bet to be ousted next.