Why are so many managers under pressure in the Premier League?
This has once again been a wild season in England. Even though the top 6 has looked like they are playing at a different level than everyone else, still there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding those clubs. And as for the bottom feeders, a couple sides have already made mid-season managerial changes. But as we head into the home stretch of the 2016-17 campaign, we take a look at the four managers currently facing the hot seat: Klopp, Ranieri, Allardyce, and Wenger.
First I’ll start with Klopp. Klopp had an amazing first 14 months with Liverpool going to 2 cup finals last season and doing very well at the start of this season. But since then, Liverpool have had a dry spell, not winning a Premier League game in the new year and then crashing out of 2 cup competitions. Liverpool is in currently in a minor crisis, yet still sit in a Euro League spot. I think if they don’t pick up at least 3 points against either Spurs or Arsenal in the coming weeks, serious questions will be asked about Klopp. Many thought the issues had to do with injuries to key players, but now even their full squad can’t produce anything. Klopp feels safe, but only for now – if things don’t pick up soon you might start seeing #kloppout plastered all over social media. And the thing is, it’s mainly because teams in the bottom half of the table feel confident when playing Liverpool because the way they play has been found out. If they sit back, all they have to do is score on a counter attack (which isn’t exactly hard to do vs Liverpool, as we saw Wolves, Swansea, Hull, and Southampton capitalize on over the course of 2017). So at the moment, Klopp can feel safe about his managerial spot at Liverpool, but if the Reds fail to qualify for European competition for the second straight year, things may get tense.
Big Sam has been under tremendous amounts of pressure since becoming the manager of Crystal Palace. Failure to get results and getting smashed by Big Sam’s former club Sunderland 0-4 at home on Saturday have been the story at Selhurst Park. It surely can’t all be blamed on Big Sam; a lot of it has to do with players just simply not performing – the fans recognize this chanting “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” at halftime of their 0-4 drubbing by Sunderland. Crystal Palace had a very good campaign last year, getting as high as 6th place in the early stages of the 15-16 season, but ever since the start of 2016, Palace have failed to win games, having the lowest point tally of any of the teams in the top 4 leagues of England (since January 1, 2016). Crystal Palace will surely get relegated on the near future if Big Sam’s tactics don’t settle in in time. If this is the case, Crystal Palace will surely be looking for a new manager.
Ranieri has had an interesting 2 years as Leicester manager. In Year 1, he took over the confidence from Nigel Pearson’s Leicester team that made “The Great Escape” out of the relegation zone in the final weeks of the 14-15 season. Ranieri kept that momentum over the entirety of the 15-16 season where the likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyhad Mahrez, and especially N’golo Kante lead Leicester and their 5,000/1 odds to win the Premier League title in the greatest underdog story in the history of sports. The thing with Leicester is that Ranieri’s initial effects seem to have worn off completely. Playing the same 4-4-2 formation that worked so well last season is one of the major reasons they are having such a cataclysmic season. N’golo Kante’s work rate made the 4-4-2 work so well for Leicester but he is just irreplaceable. So you think Ranieri would change something right? Nope, not even close. Leicester is on pace for the worst title defense in the history of English Football. And some people who have been watching Leicester’s downfall have suggested that it’s the Champions League, and supposedly they are focusing too hard on it. That clearly isn’t the case as they have gone on their worst run in the league while the Champions League has been on winter break. Leicester fans want him gone, he is oblivious to what is actually going on after losing 0-3 at home to Manchester United Sunday, Ranieri said “I am happy with the team and the team is happy with me” in a press conference. Leicester fans, on the other hand, are unhappy that Ranieri is “happy” after losing 0-3 at home, when he should be changing things. When Leicester inevitably get knocked out of the Champions League and if Leicester stays in their relegation-bound form, Ranieri will surely be sacked in my opinion. (To read more about Leicester’s unique situation, click here.)
Arsene Wenger’s job has been at risk for a long long time. The Gunners seem to go on incredible 15 game unbeaten runs, but when they lose 1 or 2 games out of 16 all the fans throw the toys out of their pram in exchange for an “Arsene out” sign. It’s disgraceful and disgusting the way some Arsenal fans react, as any other club in the prem would love to go on runs that Arsenal go on season after season. Arsenal also are mainstays in the top 4, having finished in the top 4 every season for the past 20 years. There’s nothing wrong with your manager and his refusal to spend, Arsenal fans, for if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And I hate it when Arsenal fans go on Arsenal Fan TV and rant about how Wenger doesn’t spend. Maybe he doesn’t feel he needs to spend. Maybe it’s the owners that don’t let him spend. Maybe he’s looked at his incredible squad he already has and doesn’t have to spend. Maybe it’s the players’ fault for going hot and cold throughout the season. I definitely think that Arsene Wenger will keep his job if Arsenal can keep their Champion’s League spot.
The big picture to take from this is that when reviewing a manager, it is important to look at their whole body of work, rather than just their past few results. Every team has their dips in form; what really matters is how managers react to this and motivate their side once again. But, nonetheless, EPL clubs will continue to be surrounded by speculation, so the real question is: Who will be the next manager in the Premier League to be sacked?
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