There is a new top three in the Sack Race, with David Moyes heading for the job queue again, while Jose Mourinho’s odds are getting ever shorter.
1. David Moyes
Moyes has overseen Sunderland’s worst start to a Premier League season since 2007 and the beleaguered boss admits his record so far is “damning”.
Despite Moyes’ best efforts to find some positives from their winless start, it’s a fruitless search. October has reaped one point, two goals, three Premier League defeats and an EFL Cup exit at Southampton, during which Moyes was sent to the stands.
All things considered, it’s no surprise Moyes is favourite to be the next manager to leave his post. But the former Everton, Man Utd and Real Sociedad manager appears to feel quite secure at the Stadium of Light, where he is said to enjoy a very positive relationship with chief executive Martin Bain. Owner Ellis Short also made a huge fuss of Moyes when he was handed the reins, claiming the Scot was his preferred candidate before his previous five managerial appointments. Would he be willing to give up on Moyes so quickly?
The Sunderland hierarchy have a dilemma. The team’s efforts so far this season have fallen a long way short of the levels expected on Wearside and Moyes again appears to be out of his depth already, despite having barely dipped his toe in the water.
The team sit eight points off adrift of resurgent West Ham in 17th, but it is not too late for the Black Cats – yet.
That said, there are deep-rooted problems at the Stadium of Light for which there are no quick fixes – certainly not ones that could be applied by the few available managers at present – and that could save Moyes if his bosses have seen enough in three months to convince them that the boss is capable of rebuilding the team in the long term.
2. Mike Phelan
Phelan was confirmed as Hull’s manager barely three weeks ago but already the former assistant boss has been backed into second favourite for the axe.
Since stepping up from his caretaker role on October 13, the Tigers have lost all three Premier League games, having scored only one goal but conceded nine against Bournemouth, Stoke and Watford.
Saturday’s defeat at Vicarage Road summed up the run Hull are on. Watford triumphed despite failing to register a single shot on target, with Michael Dawson’s late own goal handing the hosts all three points. The upcoming run of games, though, represents a good opportunity to bounce back, with home matches against Southampton and West Brom sandwiched by a trip to winless and witless Sunderland.
With the owners still trying to sell the club, there appears to be little appetite to dispense so quickly with the manager who so impressed players and fans with how he managed an early-season injury crisis. But things change very quickly in football – especially at Hull – and the next month is a huge test for Phelan and his squad.
= Aitor Karanka
4. Tony Pulis
Pulis was second-favourite to leave his post when the most recent Sack Race was written. Since then, a run of three draws before defeats to big boys Liverpool and Man City stabilised his position to the extent that it was announced last week that the manager had signed a new three-year contract at The Hawthorns.
From 7/2 to go in September, to around 14/1 now, Pulis appears safe. But despite the signing of new terms, it still seems an uneasy peace. The former Stoke and Crystal Palace boss is not afraid to walk away if he doesn’t feel he is getting the help from above that he needs, and the Baggies fans remain underwhelmed at the football on display.
Given Pulis and the club seemed to blame each other for their summer transfer failings, January will be a big month as Albion aim to improve on 14th and 13th-place finishes under the current boss in the last two seasons. The boss seems secure for now, but his position appears unlikely to remain as stable for the duration of his contract extension.
= Slaven Bilic
= Jose Mourinho
Backsides are twitching among Man Utd fans, if not necessarily at Old Trafford, then certainly among the more reactionary fans who always shout loudest on social media. Mourinho has come in as short as 12/1 with one bookmaker to be the next to leave his post, but those jittery Red Devils looking for change already are almost certain to be disappointed.
There is no doubt that Mourinho’s start to life at Old Trafford has not gone as smoothly as he or anyone around the club would have liked. United currently sit below Watford in the table, seven points off Chelsea in fourth place. Mourinho’s big signings are toiling, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic desperate to find the target, Paul Pogba struggling to find his position and Henrikh Mkhitaryan failing to be found anywhere.
The new boss isn’t helped by consistent leaks from the dressing room whenever things go against United, and Saturday summed up the way things are going for Mourinho and his team. United failed to break down Burnley despite having 37 shots – the highest number since Opta started keeping count in 2003-04. The Red Devils had their most impressive recent performer harshly sent off; they came up against a goalkeeper inspired on his return to his boyhood club and though their finishing was wayward, especially Ibrahimovic’s, there is a positive to be found in the fact United created so many opportunities. That would not have been the case last season under Louis van Gaal.
Mourinho’s frustrations got the better of him when he was sent to the stands at half-time, but this is hardly behaviour out of character for the Portuguese. The manager is often accused of not knowing his best XI but that is not surprising given the infancy of his tenure and the changes taking place within his squad. United were extremely reluctant to get rid of Van Gaal despite the style matching the results. At least under Mourinho, United fans can see an evolution, even if the results are yet to improve.
= Alan Pardew
8. Mark Hughes
The Stoke manager is sitting far more comfortably in the hot seat now than six weeks ago, when he was as short as evens with some bookmakers to be given the boot.
Since a 4-1 surrender at Crystal Palace last month, Hughes has re-instilled some of the Potters’ traditional defensive solidity, which has seen them go five unbeaten in the Premier League, with draws at West Brom and Man Utd followed by wins against Sunderland, Hull and now Swansea.
Joe Allen’s form has been a large factor in Stoke’s resurgence, and Hughes has to take some of the credit for employing the Wales midfielder in a more advanced role.
Victory at home to struggling Swansea on Monday night would see Stoke climb to 12th place, level on points with 10th-placed Leicester and back on course to better their ninth-placed finish in each of the last three seasons.
9. Sean Dyche
= Eddie Howe
11. Walter Mazzarri
12. Bob Bradley
13. Antonio Conte
14. Claude Puel
15. Claudio Ranieri
16. No manager to leave
17. Arsene Wenger
18. Pep Guardiola
= Ronald Koeman
20. Mauricio Pochettino
21. Jurgen Klopp
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