Sack race within the Premier League: Arteta, Wilder most in danger by 2021


At least six Premier League managers have been laid off every calendar year since 2012. In two of the last three years (2017 and 2019) that number rose to nine. As in all walks of life, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on football, but managers have at least benefited from longer tenure.

After Nigel Pearson left Watford with two games left last season, Sam Allardyce had to wait until December 16 to replace Slaven Bilic at West Brom, one of only two top leadership changes of 2020. The Financial Impact of COVID- 19 bring the cost of firing a manager into focus. Likewise, the lack of training time resulting from a shortened schedule list arouses more sympathy for the fighters trying to stop a decline.

But patience can't last forever, not least because the price of relegation or failure to qualify for the Champions League feels even higher after a season in which fans have almost no game days and fans are banned from the stadiums . So who could be in line next?

In the hottest place

Neither Sheffield United nor Arsenal want to sack managers who exceeded last season's expectations, but Chris Wilder and Mikel Arteta cannot continue their respective rut for much longer.

Wilder is the second favorite to be sacked by most bookmakers, but the risk of relegation is very real: two points from the first 14 games is the worst start in top English history. They are already 10 points behind security but would refuse to fire the man who brought his club back to the Premier League. Arteta won the FA Cup last season and was promoted from head coach to manager in September. His chances therefore look a bit short given internal recognition of the scale of the task but lose to Chelsea, Brighton and West Brom over the Christmas season and Arsenal could be in the bottom three.

Arsenal have announced their support for Arteta but results and performances continue to put him under pressure. ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP via Getty Images

Under threat with worse results

Steve Bruce saw his death as Newcastle United Manager predicted in the summer when it looked like a Saudi Arabia-backed takeover was about to take place. In that regard, taking them to 12th place is a success, but Magpies' football is mostly terrible and fans remain unconvinced. Graham Potter was hired to implement better style at Brighton & Hove Albion, but they only won two league games this season.

Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues to lurch from majesty to misfortune. He has already weathered several tumultuous periods in two years but Mauricio Pochettino won't be available forever and United's form is so capricious that the club appears on a cycle the Norwegian is hard to break.

Sure … for now

Scott Parker looked doomed at the start of the season but Fulham's late summer transfer activity kept them going: six of the XI's, who drew Liverpool earlier this month, were signed after September 1st. However, Fulham remain in the bottom three positions and now, having been supported in the market, must deliver.

Burnley has also launched its own mini-revival with three wins from the last six games, which eases the pressure on Sean Dyche. Chelsea gave Frank Lampard £ 220m worth of new players this summer and must get at least in the top four. Lampard's legendary status as a player will buy him more time than most Chelsea managers, but owner Roman Abramovich's ruthlessness knows no bounds.

David Moyes started the season under significant pressure, but after keeping key midfielder Declan Rice – who is always linked to Chelsea – he has steered West Ham into the top half. Results included a win at Leicester and a draw against Tottenham and Manchester City.

Moyes has managed to turn West Ham into a capable team that can crack the top tier in England after scoring five out of nine against Leicester, Spurs and Man City. CLIVE ROSE / POOL / AFP via Getty Images

Sam Allardyce has never been relegated but faces a real challenge. West Brom are five points behind 19th place after 14 games. He will earn a reported £ 2 million bonus for holding up the Baggies and he will surely get every chance to do so. Aston Villa survived on the last day of last season but looked poised for a more comfortable season having climbed to ninth place so far and Dean Smith also managing to convince Jack Grealish to sign his future with the Tie club.

Wolves are stuck in midfield but it's a measure of the work Nuno Espirito Santo has done that it feels like a slight disappointment. It's two points and two places above Crystal Palace where Roy Hodgson continues to keep his team out of trouble with a comfortable pillow.

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Leeds United would be leaders if praise were equated with points, but Marcelo Bielsa's expansive style continues to enjoy full buy-in from his squad and supporters. Jose Mourinho can always go very fast, but Tottenham led to a point of nine against Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Leicester. Its renaissance is far from over.

In no danger

Jurgen Klopp is sure to leave Liverpool on his own terms, even if the Premier League isn't so safe this season. The same goes for Pep Guardiola, who has just signed a new contract extension in Manchester City with a view to returning to the summit.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has seen a remarkable change in Southampton, spawning her as a surprise challenger this season for a top six spot along with Everton, where Carlo Ancelotti steered the Merseysiders to fourth place after a summer of smart acquisitions.

Brendan Rodgers shook off Leicester City's late collapse – and subsequent failure to secure a spot in the Champions League – last season to get them back on track.


Melinda Martin