The Premier League is one of the most competitive in the world, if not the most. A manager’s career could be made or broken depending on their performances in the English top flight. Heroes become zeroes, zeroes become heroes. This year’s first four Premier League games has been one of the most exciting in recent years. If the results of the first few games in this young season is anything to go by, we take a look at the five managers likely to get the axe.
Slaviša Jokanović (FULHAM FC, 1-1-2)
The towering Serb has been Fulham’s manager since 2015, and is also one of a few new managers in the division. Jokanović has done well in his short time with the London club, leading The Cottagers back into the Premier League after just two seasons in the Championship. The Cottagers have been on a spending spree since gaining back promotion. Spending upwards of 100 million euros on reinforcements, the biggest net spend in the Premier League out of the three promoted clubs. The signing of former OGC Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri was considered as the biggest coup; with Fulham beating a number of Europe’s biggest clubs for the Frenchman’s signature.
Results could be better for Fulham, losing their first two outings to Crystal Palace and Tottenham. But an empathic win against Burnley followed by a disappointing draw against Brighton and Hove Albion after being up 2-0 puts the London club firmly in the middle of the pack. But given their massive summer spending and the corresponding expectations, Jokanović might need to steer his squad to at least a mid table finish for him to keep his job.
Chris Hughton (Brighton and Hove Albion FC, 1-1-2)
Brighton and Hove Albion has done a great job staying in the Premier League last season and much of it could be credited to veteran manager Chris Hughton. The Seagulls finished 15th in the table, 6 points clear of relegation. One goal wins against Arsenal and Manchester United at home were the pick of the bunch of a number of good performances last season.
The Seagulls are currently in 14th place, with a surprise 3-2 win against Manchester United in their first home game and a narrow 1-0 loss to league leaders Liverpool as the standout performances so far. New signing and AZ Alkmaar’s leading scorer last season in the Eredevisie Alireza Jahanbaksh has been bought in for 19 million euros but has so far only featured twice off the bench. The Iranian international will need to adapt quickly to the pace of the Premier League if he is to help The Seagulls retain their spot at the top division. Chris Hughton’s job security will be reliant on depending on where they finish. Another relegation scrap and Brighton’s board might decide that Hughton will have taken them as far as he can and might look elsewhere for a manager that can take them further.
Neil Warnock (Cardiff City FC, 0-2-2)
The Bluebirds were the surprise of the Championship last season, earning automatic promotion by finishing second behind league winner Wolverhampton Wanderers. Neil Warnock has done a marvelous job in guiding a team full of misfits and discards from other clubs. Cardiff have been relatively quiet in the transfer window, adding midfielders Josh Murphy and Bobby Reid from Norwich and Bristol City respectively to bolster the Bluebirds corps. Premier League veteran Harry Arter arrives in the Welsh capital on loan from Bournemouth and adds much needed experience and steel in the midfield.
Cardiff has had a shaky start back in the bigtime, losing 2-0 to Bournemouth and having consecutive nil-nil draws against ten men Newcastle and Huddersfield. A spirited display at home against Arsenal could be considered as a good performance despite losing 3-2 to the gunners. Goal-keeper Neil Etheridge is the early standout performer for the Bluebirds. The Philippines number 1 has made history by becoming the first Southeast Asian to play in the English top flight. The big stopper has also kept two clean sheets in the young season. He’s also saved two penalties in his first two games, becoming just the second keeper to do so in the past decade.
Neil Warnock has been known as a “promotion wizard”, with EIGHT promotions to his name, the most of all active managers in the Football league. The veteran manager has shown that he could do well at a club with limited resources and is used to punching above their weight. Now Warnock will have to prove that he has what it takes to keep a club in the Premier League. Anything but safety will ensure that Warnock stays on as Bluebirds manager at the end of the season.
David Wagner (Huddersfield Town, 0-2-2)
The German-American coach has shown that he can hang with the best in his first season in the Premier League, guiding the Terriers to safety in his first year in charge. David Wagner has bought in NINE reinforcements this season to ensure another year of survival. The Terriers’ offence will still go through Aaron Mooy. The Aussie midfielder has been the main creative fulcrum for Wagner last season. Together with Steve Mounié and Laurent Depoitre, the trio has accounted for 17 of the Terrier’s 28 goals. Huddersfield were able to collect 37 points last season, with only four points separating them from the drop. They also had a -30 goal differential, the biggest for all non relegated teams last season. Wagner has added centre back Terence Kongolo on a permanent basis to shore up one of the Premier League’s leakiest defence.
The early season hasn’t been great for the Terriers, shipping nine goals against only two scored. With only two points out of a possible 12 so far, Wagner has his work cut out if he is to remain Huddersfield manager by the end of the year.
Manuel Pellegrini (West Ham United, 0-0-4)
The biggest surprise of the season for all the wrong reasons. West Ham United has had a lot of hype surrounding them before the start of the campaign. Having signed former Manchester City’s title winning manager Manuel Pellegrini along with a number of big name signings, the Hammers were expected to challenge for continental places. But things haven’t gone exactly as planned. The Hammers are bottom of the table after four games, collecting zero points out of a possible 12; things aren’t looking good for West Ham. Heavy defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal away from home were a bitter pill to swallow, but narrow defeats to Bournemouth and upstarts Wolverhampton Wanderers compounded the misery for Hammers fans.
Pellegrini has failed to get a result with a team consisting of Javier Hernandez, Jack Wilshere, and Andriy Yarmolenko to name a few. Pellegrini was hired behind his experience and his previous success in the Premier League, winning it with Manchester City in the 2013-2014 season. West Ham is no City and David Sullivan is no Sheik Mansour, but if the Hammer’s spending spree was anything to go by, a continental place is the worst result that the board will be willing to accept. Pellegrini has the players to achieve those goals and he has to be thankful that he still has a lot of time on his side to correct his mistakes.
Honorable Mentions: Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez, Marco Silva, Mark Hughes