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Friday 13 December 2019

Premier class coming first in sack race

Certain under-pressure managers look in line to get unwanted Christmas present from clubs

Marco Silva’s tenure at Everton looks to be over
Marco Silva’s tenure at Everton looks to be over

Football management can be the enemy of mindfulness.

A bit like Jimmy Hoffa in the Irishman, a number of Premier League managers woke up this morning knowing their position is under threat.

And like the infamous Teamster boss, they've no idea when their job is going to get whacked.

Most will realise that clubs who change managers in December have more time to rescue their season than those who leave it until March or April to attempt to turn things around.

Right now, Unai Emery (Arsenal), Marco Silva (Everton), Manuel Pellegrini (West Ham), Quique Sánchez Flores (Watford) and Ralph Hasenhüttl (Southampton) probably tense up when the phone rings or someone knocks on their door.

Even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United) has been publicly reminded that other managers are available to take over at Old Trafford if his team's league form remains inconsistent.

Traditionally

December is the month that traditionally has had the most managerial sackings in the Premier League.

Given the aura of disappointment and unrest that currently exists at a number of clubs, the next few weeks are likely to confirm those stats by adding a number of managerial casualties to the tally.

Some are in a more precarious position than others.

Starting with an away trip to Norwich on Sunday, Arsenal have eight games in December.

With rumours of Emery's replacement already swirling around and with just four Premier League wins this season, and a half empty Emirates for the defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt last night, the head coach knows he needs to quickly orchestrate some winning performances if he's to be still in the job in January.

Described by the board as "the ideal person to take us forward" when he joined Arsenal in May last year, Unai Emery hoped to maintain the career momentum that saw him win the league and a sack of domestic trophies with PSG and a record-setting three-in-a-row Europa League titles with Sevilla.

But today Arsenal are in disarray.

Although in the relegation zone, Norwich earned their first away win of the season on Saturday when their 0-2 win against Everton prompted the home fans to direct a chorus of "You're getting sacked in the morning" towards Everton boss Marco Silva.

A similar result against the Gunners on Sunday would surely grease the lever on the trapdoor that's under Emery.

With Brighton and West Ham to follow Norwich, it's possible that Emery will survive but given that an away trip to Standard Liege on Thursday December 12 is followed by a crunch tie with Manchester City three days later, you'd imagine the conservative Arsenal directors are already considering giving club supporters an early Christmas cracker.

For sure, life won't be getting any easier for Marco Silva this month.

With Everton's supporters on his case, the Portuguese who followed Sam Allardyce at Goodison Park in May of last year faces a daunting task to save his job.

Two places off the relegation zone, Everton travel to a bullish second-placed Leicester on Sunday.

On Wednesday there's a trip to Anfield followed by league matches against Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal before Christmas.

Looking at the fixture list, you feel it's going to take not just a miracle but a series of unprecedented divine interventions for Silva to survive.

Already the debate has moved on to who's the ideal person to bring the Toffees back to greatness.

With just two points from West Ham's last seven games, manager Manuel Pellegrini must know his job is hanging by a thread.

Following a 3-2 defeat by Spurs, Pellegrini faces another London derby ordeal tomorrow when West Ham visit Stamford Bridge.

The Hammers have been particularly vulnerable without injured keeper Lukasz Fabianski and Pellegrini is having to consider dropping replacement keeper Roberto for either David Martin, who came free from Millwall, or the club's U23 keeper Joseph Anang in tomorrow's crucial tie.

Over at Watford, manager Quique Sanchez Flores calls for patience.

Since he rejoined the club, he's managed one win in nine games but stuck at the bottom of the table with just eight points to show after thirteen matches, it's anyone's guess whether owner Gino Pozzo will attempt yet another managerial rescue intervention.

But what hope will the club have if they don't win against fellow relegation contenders Southampton tomorrow?

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