Words by Laura Hamill
It's getting harder and harder for managers to make their mark in the Premier League. Almost every season we get some new blood in; but it's staying in the job that's the difficulty. Managers are getting turfed out even sooner than before, but not to worry - there are a few men waiting in the wings to take their place...
The no-nonsense attitude of Premier League clubs was blindly apparent at Crystal Palace this season. The tenure of Frank De Boer was very much a blink and you'll miss it scenario. When he started, it felt like he could breathe some new life into the league but he fell short. He set his sights on Timothy Fosu- Mensah and Reuben Loftus-Cheek to bring pace to the Crystal Palace side he took on, yet despite the innovative, youthful side he had his sights on creating, De Boer only lasted a measly 10 weeks in the job. The Dutchman made his name in the Premier League for all
the wrong reasons, he lost his first four matches without scoring a single goal - the first team to do that in 93 years. The only win his Palace side managed was in the EFL Cup against Ipswich Town. His time as manager of Palace is the shortest in Premier League in terms of matches played. Probational periods in office jobs are longer.
Going for a Premier League newbie didn't pay off so Palace looked to an older name; they couldn't go for Big Sam Allardyce because he walked away from the job in May. Alan Pardew was also off the table as he was sacked less than a year earlier. Nope, they went for a guy who's managerial CV is longer than the patience Arsenal fans have with Arsene Wenger - Roy Hodgson.
He doesn't play innovative football, and he's out of touch with the league, so I can't help but feel this can only be deemed a step backwards in the longer term. Yes, De Boer got off to a rough start but you have to give him a chance. Hodgson is on track to keep the Eagles up this season, but Crystal Palace may have only set themselves back further in their decision.
Of course, Palace aren't the only team to make a managerial change this season so far. Everton felt it was time to give Ronald Koeman the boot, West Brom cut ties with Tony Pulis, and the Hammers let go of Slaven Bilic.
Unsurprisingly, almost every team went for a safe option. Everton brought in someone who is well versed in the Premier League, as did West Brom. West Ham went rogue but went for a man who has graced many years in England. West Ham played it even safer by offering him a six-month contract. Merry Christmas one and all as your prayers have been answered. Big Sam Allardyce, who claimed he wouldn't manage a club again he would solely focus on international jobs, was announced as Everton manager on the same week West Brom sworn in PL veteran Alan Pardew.
Although a safe option Everton have played a blinder with Big Sam, even if it is costing a pretty penny when it comes to his wages. In just four games, Allardyce registered three wins. The Pards on the other hand, isn't having such a great time in the Midlands. Pardew is still looking for the elusive league win with his side. West Brom are still firmly in the dreaded relegation one - just two points above last place Swansea City.
The man who is now holding the fort up at West Ham is everyone's favourite human meme, David Moyes. Moyes does not deserve all of the stick he gets, but clearly West Ham have other plans when it comes to longevity. Moyes was brought in on a short term contract, a tactic which has worked with Celtic and Brendan Rogers, and he hasn't done too badly since. As it stands, West Ham are out of the bottom three following some big wins against Champions Chelsea and struggling Stoke City. I can't help but think his time back in the Premier League will be short and sweet - he will do the Allardyce job of keeping the side up but that will be it. Those three may be back at the helm, with their feet firmly under the top flight table for now but not everyone in the league can say the same.
Now I'm not a betting woman but you can sense that the next managerial sacking is around the corner as it gets tighter at the bottom and Manchester City continue to create a huge gap at the top. The busy festive period in football can make or break a manager and a few have been hanging by a thread.
There are a handful I don't expect to see for much longer. The manager I felt was on the shakiest ground was Paul Clement - and I was absolutely right. Swansea City have registered a pitiful three wins in 20 games, gaining just 13 points since August. Frighteningly, their number of losses for the season matches their amount of points. When Clement brought in Renato Sanches it felt like a huge statement for a club of Swansea's stature. Sanches was tipped for greatness ahead of his big move to Bayern Munich but unfortunately he faded into the background for the German giants. Swansea City could help rejuvenate this youngster but so far he';s been just as invisible. Clement took a big risk and it didn't pay off. Ultimately, Clement paid the price.
When Paul Clement was sacked during the festive period, it was pretty obvious that Swansea had done the right thing but did not have a further plan once he was sacked. A replacement was not immediate and the candidates didn't seem to have much substance. As you can imagine, Ryan Giggs was linked to the job.
The man Swansea went on to appoint is Carlos Carvalhal just days after he was sacked by Sheffield Wednesday. Maybe he was their top choice for a manager - but it smacks of desperation and panic. I'm still in firm belief that Swansea are Championship bound come May.
Stoke City's figurehead didn’t look much more comfortable over the busy Christmas and New Year period. Mark Hughes had been a constant in the Premier League having spent almost 5 years at Stoke but results hadn’t been going his way either. They have managed just one more win and four more points than bottom place Swansea and find themselves in 18th place. Heavy defeats at home to West Ham, away to Spurs and away to
Manchester City left an air of doubt around the stability of Sparky's job; but the straw that broke the camels back came in their FA Cup clash. A 2-1 defeat to Coventry City was the nail in the coffin and Hughes was sacked just hours later. If you indulge in football gossip, it’s believed former West Ham manager Slaven Bilic will be the successor for the Potters.
Arguably the most stable of the three, but still in with a shout is Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez. It's all gone a bit pear-shaped for the newly-promoted side in since they lost at Turf Moor to a strong Burnley side - so much so, the Magpies haven't won a league game since. They conceded four goals at Old Trafford, three at home to Watford and three at Stamford Bridge. These figures are undoubtedly adding some heat under the collar of Benitez but his saving grace could be some new owners. If Staveley fronts the right amount of money to get rid of Mike Ashley, then Rafa might just be okay. But if that's all his job rests on, it could still spell trouble. Ashley wanted the club sold by Christmas but that didn't happen. Little had been reported on the takeover and it looks to have stalled. Rafa needs - and wants - to spend big in January; whether he can remains to be seen.
All in all, this is bound to be another one of those seasons with plenty chopping and changing as it has already begun. A continuous run of turfing out managers after a few weeks isn't healthy but unfortunately seems like the route this League is taking. The Premier League is, of course, results driven but it ain't for everybody, We need time to see who can cut the mustard. Rome - and Manchester City's current squad - wasn't built in a day.