Premier League sack race: Poch and Ten Hag battling to outlast Heckingbottom

Erik ten Hag looks frustrated during a match. Credit: Alamy
Erik ten Hag looks frustrated during a match. Credit: Alamy

Erik ten Hag is moving rapidly up the list but it’s Sheffield United who are tipped to blink first with an old manager lurking.


1) Paul Heckingbottom (Sheffield United)
Was already favourite before losing 8-0 at home, having gone full tinfoil hat after the injury-time Spursing the previous week. Easy to have sympathy for any promoted manager finding life hard, but defeats to teams like Spurs and Newcastle shouldn’t really make matters this much worse. The fact they have is largely on Heckingbottom and leaves him in a precarious position, with Chris Wilder apparently lurking.


2) Gary O’Neil (Wolves)
It’s quite something that the man who came in to replace the first manager lost is now an (albeit distant) second favourite to be the next one out. Not even Watford have managed first and second in the Sack Race before.

Four defeats from six leaves anyone vulnerable, and O’Neil is now also the first manager in Premier League history to fail to beat Luton.


3) Sean Dyche (Everton)
Pressure significantly eased for now by a first win of the season and a really good one – both for the nature of the performance and the opposition. Only Arsenal and Newcastle won at Brentford last season, while the Bees had already managed to withstand an Angeballing and emerge unscathed. They couldn’t hold out against Dycheball, though. Still a long old season ahead for the focus of our kneejerk reactions, mind.

READ MORE: Dyche leaves Everton, Chelsea above Liverpool, Man Utd outside top four and more kneejerk calls


4) Mauricio Pochettino (Chelsea)
It’s not going at all well, is it? Unless Pochettino is still fully COYS and on some kind of mission behind enemy lines, in which case it’s arguably going too well and starting to look a bit obvious. Failing to muster a single goal from successive games against Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Aston Villa is the sort of run that would have any manager feeling a bit nervous, and the grim reality is that two of those games currently look a little bit like six-pointers with Villa so far ahead of the Blues as to be largely an irrelevance. Will Poch still be in the dugout when Chelsea head to Spurs on November 6? Currently uncertain, and also worth noting that sits in the middle of a horrible run of games after the next international break: Arsenal, Brentford, Tottenham, Man City, Newcastle, Brighton, Man United. Oof.


5) Erik ten Hag (Manchester United)
The dumpster fire that is Manchester United off the pitch
 is starting to translate pretty poorly to things on it, and while some Bruno Fernandes brilliance secured a crack-papering and much-needed win at Burnley there was little about the performance in general that screamed corner turned.


6) Rob Edwards (Luton)
Surely not. Would be the most Modern Football thing ever.


7) Marco Silva (Fulham)
He apparently turned down a big old pile of cash to move to Saudi Arabia yet could easily be tempted again, you fancy. Couple of wins, couple of draws, couple of defeats is a broadly acceptable start – especially with one of the defeats being at Man City and therefore of no meaningful consequence – but it’s not the sort of thing to necessarily stir a man into staying put if daft money is on offer.


8) Andoni Iraola (Bournemouth)
Any of the new managers could go early this season and it’s reasonable enough to imagine Iraola sits near the top of that list. The brutal nature of his predecessor Gary O’Neil’s axing and replacement inevitably places a greater spotlight on Bournemouth and Iraola than would normally be the case, even if we think they made the right call.

One of the reasons we think it would be fair enough is that if O’Neil were still Bournemouth manager he would be a solid favourite in this market. Everyone knows O’Neil overachieved last season, but there really isn’t a great deal of solid evidence out there to support the idea he would have done so again. That won’t stop people saying Bournemouth were flying under O’Neil, though.

Could really have done without that Brentford equaliser, and also without having to play Brighton at all because they’re real good.


9) Steve Cooper (Nottingham Forest)
Forest rightly stuck with him through the sticky moments last season and it all worked out fine in the end. Makes him slightly harder to sack if things go wrong this season – and means for us he’s probably a bit too high here at this early stage – but far from invincible. Even after a morale-boosting win at Chelsea. He probably wishes the club had not bought him a whole new team. Again. That comes with pressure. They’re doing absolutely fine, but it just all feels – rightly or wrongly – like a situation that could come crashing down at any moment


10) Vincent Kompany (Burnley)
Linked with some bigger jobs early in the summer after his impressive work in getting Burnley straight back to the Premier League but was always pretty clear he intended to finish what he’s started. His profile as a player and quality of his early managerial work is always going to be a mixed blessing for Burnley, though. Hard to see them sacking him, not hard to see him inserted straight at the top of the odds for jobs that become available during the season if Burnley are getting things even halfway right.

Has been slightly diddled by Kenilworth Road’s unreadiness, mind. The postponement of that game inevitably makes Burnley’s situation look bleaker than it is having played a game fewer than almost everyone else while simultaneously condemning the Clarets to starting their return to the top flight with games against Man City, Aston Villa and Spurs. But sympathy recedes if you then mess up your chance to rack up some easy points against rudderless dross like Manchester United.


11) Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace)
We move distinctly here into the realm of managers currently considered broadly safe. Don’t get complacent, though, because Poch and ETH were sitting pretty in here a few weeks ago.


12) David Moyes (West Ham)
Successive defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City are disappointing but not season-derailingly so. Nobody at West Ham would have turned their noses up at a start to the season that contained an opening Europa League win plus 10 points from league games against Bournemouth, Chelsea, Brighton, Luton, Liverpool and City.


13) Eddie Howe (Newcastle)
Rightly or wrongly, Howe could quickly come under pressure if there is even the slightest hint that he is not the man to lead Newcastle through stage two of their quest for world domination no matter how impressively and swiftly he boxed off stage one. Newcastle have got so many big decisions right since getting all the money, but you still think at some stage there’s going to be a desire to get a Big Name Manager in charge. The defeats at Manchester City and especially against 10-man Liverpool both represented huge opportunities missed, and Howe is discovering quickly that he is in rarefied air now where it takes only a couple of defeats for talk to begin. Getting battered by Brighton was sub-optimal but beating Brentford and dismantling Sheffield United in record-breaking fashion will keep wolves from doors for a spell.


14) Ange Postecoglou (Tottenham)
Spurs are Spurs and therefore nothing can ever be ruled out, and we’re still absolutely certain there are going to be bad days alongside the good given the nature of their squad and Postecoglou’s all-out tactics. But the feelgood vibe around Spurs is huge and undeniable right now; while we can totally see it all unravelling (again, Spurs are Spurs) we absolutely cannot see that happening fast enough for Postecoglou to be gone before some of these other lads. Has already won more NLD points at the Emirates than Mourinho, Nuno and Conte combined.


15) Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
There were several moments last season when it appeared far from certain Klopp would still be Liverpool manager this season. Liverpool will have to be better than they were for huge swathes of last season if further ‘Is Klopp’s Liverpool Empire Crumbling?’ beard-stroking ruminations are to be avoided. And they are being better than they were for huge swathes of last season. They’re also being riotously good mentality-monster chaotic fun. Klopp’s going nowhere.


16) Thomas Frank (Brentford)
Far more likely to be poached by a rival than sacked which would already mean he was at worst the next but one manager to leave. Defeat at home to Everton is a bit rubbish, though, and Brentford’s sloppiness in failing to hold on to leads in the first month of the season now, in the wake of successive defeats, leaves their start to the season looking a little ropier than it ought.


17) Unai Emery (Aston Villa)
Definitely won’t be the first manager out. Will be very near the top of the betting in any Big Seven job that comes up. Apart from Arsenal. But that won’t come up anyway, so don’t worry about it.


18) Roberto De Zerbi (Brighton)
Definitely won’t be the first manager out. Will be very near the top of the betting in any Big Seven job that comes up. Especially Arsenal. But that won’t come up anyway, so don’t worry about it.


19) Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
Mikel, are you f***ing this up? Definite signs of overcomplicating things rather than just continuing with what worked splendidly well for 95 per cent of last season. He truly is a student of Pep. But also they’ve only dropped four points. It’s now just about possible to envision a scenario where things go badly enough that reluctantly Arsenal feel they have to change course. But still impossible to envision a scenario where that all takes place swiftly enough for no other manager to have bitten the dust first.


20) Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
How big an offer from Saudi Arabia would it take, do we reckon?

The article Premier League sack race: Poch and Ten Hag battling to outlast Heckingbottom appeared first on