This festive period most of us will be hanging up our stockings to the opening bars of Fairytale of New York as we guzzle mulled wine by the gallon. We’ll prepare for days of merriment, gift-giving and curling up in front of the fire to watch Home Alone 2.
But for many Premier League managers the Christmas period is greeted with dread. Indeed the period of the year known as ‘sacking season’ is now upon us, and it’s fair to say that some top-flight bosses may already be feeling the hangman’s noose around their throats.
Indeed so far this season there has been kind of a strange calm across the top division, with no managers dismissed so far for the first time in 18 years. This has been despite indifferent starts for a lot of teams. There were early rumblings of Alan Pardew being dismissed from Newcastle United and Sam Allardyce getting the chop at West Ham United. Both managers have subsequently turned their seasons around, and both clubs have been enjoying a vein of form rich enough to leave the fans of the respective teams with egg on their faces. Not that the fans will mind now. And why should they?!
But it has been strangely quiet on the sacking front in the Premier League so far this season. Almost disconcertingly quiet. And it could well be the calm before the storm. It just needs one club to break cover first.
Let’s have a look at the three main contenders so far in this season’s sack race.
The number 1 seed has seen his brave Foxes side slip to rock bottom, 3 points off 19th placed Hull and 5 points away from safety. Whilst the season may only have hit the halfway point it is, historically, a bad omen to be bottom at Christmas.
With only 6 goals scored in the last 10 fixtures, Pearson will need to get the mercurial Leonardo Ulloa to recapture his early season goal scoring form if his side are going to have any chance of staying up.
Throw in no wins in 11 games, and Pearson’s recent spat with Leicester fans and things are beginning to look bleak for Big Nige, and he could find himself replaced by the coveted Tony Pulis.
Following a recent mauling by bitter rivals Manchester United, the Liverpool boss will find himself under even more pressure. For a man who last season was being touted as the future of the game to this season find his job under threat seems almost unthinkable. But that is the way the modern game works.
The Ulsterman has earned the right to have a bad season following the miracles he worked last season. Nonetheless he will know he needs to turn things around very quickly if he is to keep his seat in the Anfield dugout. The recent display against Arsenal showed a marked improvement, but Liverpool still have a long way to go.
A goalkeeper and a striker are paramount in January.
With so much focus on other teams in the table Steve Bruce’s Hull side have slipped, almost unnoticed, down to 19th spot. With a fine campaign last season and some smart purchases in the summer it seems strange that Bruce’s side should be struggling. The former Wigan and Sunderland boss should be given time to turn things around. However, goals have been an issue and with 1 win in the last 10 games Bruce could find himself replaced in January.
Outside bets include Harry Redknapp, Sean Dyche and Alan Irvine, but Redknapp’s QPR side managed to pick up a vital win at the weekend and will hope to be given the funds necessary to strengthen in January.
With only a few days until Christmas we could well see our first casualty of war before the New Year hits. After that the floodgates will be open and other clubs may follow suit, though I always feel if you are going to sack a manger during the season then you should be doing it before January (barring exceptions). There is little point in bringing in a new manager mid-season after the transfer window has shut and expecting them to have a significant impact on an ailing team’s form.
Whichever club breaks cover first over the festive period it will likely cause the proverbial domino effect that signals the beginning of the manager merry-go-round. The chaos that follows after will be anyone’s guess.
For more from Matthew, visit www.matthewbiggin.com