Managers come and go – they always have and always will. Elite professional football demands immediate success and if you can’t provide it, you are probably out of a job and looking for another one. The stakes in the English Premier League keep growing and the pressure for success with them. Detached owners think nothing of wielding the axe on managers if they fail to meet expectations. Here’s a list of 5 managers already feeling the heat this season.
1. Pep Guardiola – Manchester City
Pressure comes in different forms and with Pep Guardiola most of it seems generated by the man himself and his will to succeed. Is there a more driven and animated manager on the touchline? Guardiola and success were intertwined before his arrival in Manchester. He won everything in a golden spell at Barcelona and followed that by steamrollering German football at Bayern Munich. The same was expected at Manchester City, but his first season in charge saw them only finish in 3rd place and some distance behind Chelsea. This season City are already looking stronger as Guardiola works his magic. Making a big impact in the Champions League is a requirement too. The pressure for Guardiola to succeed is intense from the owners, the fans and himself. Should City’s title challenge falter, Guardiola may walk rather than hang around to be pushed out the door.
2. Arsene Wenger – Arsenal
Arsene Wenger recently celebrated 21 years as manager of Arsenal. However, it’s been 2004 since they last savoured title success. Patience is growing thin among the Arsenal faithful, especially since Spurs have established themselves as the top team in North London. Last season it seemed like time was up for Wenger as they finished 5th and failed to qualify for the Champions League. Against this background of malcontent around the Emirates Stadium, Wenger surprisingly signed up for another spell in charge. Prize asset, Alexis Sanchez, is unhappy, along with World Cup winner, Mesut Ozil. A 4-0 thrashing from Liverpool at the start of the season seemed to signal that Arsenal were in chaos. However, since then, Arsenal have found good form. Arsenal may be good enough to challenge for a place in the top six, but it seems a couple of bad results will heap unbearable pressure on Wenger and he could leave his beloved position.
3. Ronald Koeman – Everton
Ronald Koeman is a combative character. He’s been around, and managed in Holland, Portugal and Spain as well as England. You can sense his barely hidden contempt for the journalists asking him awkward questions. And that’s been happening a lot more lately as Everton’s campaign has failed to ignite so far this season. He is a victim of his own success. Last season Everton finished in 7th place and well ahead of the mid-table pack. Expectations have grown and have been fuelled by the £75M Everton received for selling Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United. The return of Wayne Rooney in the other direction was another reason for optimism. However, it hasn’t clicked this season with star midfielder, Ross Barclay, unsettled. Pressure is building at Goodison Park and unless Everton suddenly find some form, Koeman could be on his way sooner rather than later.
4. Slaven Bilic – West Ham
Slaven Bilic is naturally likeable and has pedigree, but that doesn’t exclude him from pressure. West Ham occupy a massive stadium and have been throwing money around. However, last season they only just stayed out of the relegation zone and this season they have started in patchy form. Yet, when Bilic first appeared (2015/16) he could do no wrong as West Ham finished 7th in the Premier League and only missed Champions League qualification by a few points. Bilic and West Ham have failed to repeat that success and pressure is mounting. At times last season Bilic seemed to have run out of time, only for West Ham to produce a performance to placate their fans for a while. That pattern seems set to repeat this season and for West Ham that isn’t good enough. Bilic’s personality may have kept him in a job until now, but it is results that matter and he may be looking for work soon.
5. Roy Hodgson – Crystal Palace
As the man given the role when Frank de Boer was sacked after only four league games, Roy Hodgson knows he faces a huge task. Although highly experienced and respected, the former England manager hardly exudes the fire and dynamism expected to lift Palace off the bottom. Why Hodgson wanted or needed the role is a mystery. Palace was his local club as a boy, and he may want to erase his failure with England at Euro 2016. However, at the age of 70, does he need the pressure and will he be given time to bring any real change at the club? Palace are in their 5th consecutive season in the Premier League and the last two have been spent fighting relegation. Hodgson has seen it all before, but has he still got an appetite for the fight? It already seems like a no-win situation for Hodgson and he may be regretting his decision already.
When Harry Kane stated earlier in the year that wi...