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All aboard the Premier League’s managerial merry-go-round

All aboard the Premier League’s managerial merry-go-round

FOOTBALL: This weekend’s international break provides the perfect opportunity to draw breath and take stock of what has been a hectic few weeks in the Premier League.

By Ben Tirebuck

Saturday 13 November 2021, 10:00AM

As the players head away to represent their countries, club managers in England’s top flight will have the chance to evaluate their respective predicaments and plan for when play resumes on Nov 20.

Those who still have a job at least will, as the managerial carousel has gone into hyperdrive already this season. At time of press, five managers have lost their jobs in just over two months, with Aston Villa’s Dean Smith and Norwich City’s Daniel Farke the latest casualties.

Smith’s dismissal seemed especially harsh. In three years, he took a club languishing in the Championship to promotion, top-flight consolidation and a cup final. He also lost his best player Jack Grealish to Manchester City in the summer. He needed time to regroup. Five consecutive bad results, the first real bump in the road of his tenure if you like, saw him sacked.

On Thursday (Nov 11), former Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard was named as Smith’s successor.

"Stevie G" had a phenomenal playing career and did a great job in his maiden managerial voyage with Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers. His three-and-a-half-year tenure saw them win the League title for a record 55th time last season, as the side managed to go the entire campaign without a loss.

However, the Premier League is a different beast altogether and Villa are an ambitious club governed by expectant owners so it will be interesting to see how he fares. Gerrard’s first game in charge of the Villians is next Saturday’s match against Brighton. He takes his new side back to his beloved Anfield to take on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Dec 11.

Steady Eddie looking to find a Toon

Elsewhere, Eddie Howe has jumped into the hot seat at Newcastle as the Saudi-led project in the north east continues to try and find a sense of direction, albeit not of the moral kind.

Howe is a smart appointment given the current precarious situation Newcastle find themselves in and his sole task will be ensuring the club maintains its top flight status to allow them to build thereafter. Should he succeed, it remains to be seen whether Howe will be given chance to be part of that gargantuan rebuilding process, despite him agreeing a two-and-a-half-year contract.

Over at Tottenham we have the serial-winner Antonio Conte now at the helm, appointed a day after Nuno Espirito Santo’s short-lived four-month reign was brought to an end.

Conte’s record cannot be questioned with five titles in less than ten years in his native Italy and England and a spell as the Azzurri’s head coach. He is the personification of no-nonsense, sharp as a tack and demands the highest levels of commitment and application from his troops.

However, he certainly has his work cut out in regenerating a Spurs side that has been on autopilot for some time now; revitalising club captain Harry Kane, who has wandered through recent games akin to an uninterested zombie, is just one of the mission critical tasks Conte has ahead of him.

Magic Moyes

Many observers are still baffled as to how Ole Gunnar Solksjaer continues to cling onto his job at Manchester United.


Last Saturday’s (Nov 6) home defeat to rivals Manchester City shouldn’t necessarily be taken as a barometer as City tend to boss and overcome most teams, but United were beyond poor once again. In fact it is fair to say they were pitiful.

It remains to be seen how much longer the man previously known as the baby-faced assassin can ward off his P45 from the United powers that be although he simply has to do better to even stand a chance, it seems.

Perhaps United’s hierarchy are now rueing the decision to afford David Moyes so little time and faith back in 2013. Appointed in a no-win situation when he succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson, Moyes was cast aside before the season finished. Subsequent fails at Sunderland and Real Sociedad suggested his bubble had burst.

However, he is currently doing a remarkable job at West Ham United. Many felt last season’s heroics when the club finished an admirable 6th place and qualified for Europe was a flash in the pan but the team’s performances thus far this season have dispelled that theory. Beating Liverpool 3-2 last Sunday, Moyes’ 1,001st game as a professional manager, saw the Hammers move into joint second place in the league with Manchester City. They are also in the quarter finals of the League Cup and knock-out stages of the Europa League, leaving many fans delirious with anticipation.

Considering Moyes was not a welcome appointment and the club were relegation candidates when he took over two years ago, what he has achieved since is exceptional. There is something very rewarding in witnessing his comeback and perhaps it proves that if given time and patience a manager can find his groove and stamp his authority on proceedings.

Soaring Eagles and Seagulls

Elsewhere, a mention for Patrick Vieira at Crystal Palace.

The former Arsenal great didn’t exactly possess a glowing CV when he was appointed in the summer and the sceptics were out with bated breath in anticipation of an almighty collapse. No doubt about it, his appointment was a gamble.

However, the Frenchman has very quickly turned around the fortunes of the South London club, transitioning from the turgid approach employed by predecessor Roy Hodgson into an exciting, free-flowing, counter-attacking team. His signings have been astute, likewise his tactics, evident in the recent win at Manchester City (who tend to boss and overcome most opponents!).

Palace are a joy to watch right now, sitting snug in 10th spot going into the international break, and all credit must go to Vieira. Expect more to come as the Eagles no doubt continue to soar.

Finally, Graham Potter at Brighton continues to shine. It is not only the attractive style of play he has imbued within his troops but his demeanour off the pitch that impresses; his intelligence and realism are a breath of fresh air in an industry so often over-worked with stereotypes and cliches.

With Brighton sitting 7th in the table, Potter’s stock seems to grow by the week to the point that he is consistently mentioned as a viable candidate when jobs at bigger clubs become, or seem likely to become, vacant.

In a game of such uncertainty one thing is sure: expect those vacancies to continue as the fickle managerial carousel continues to turn.

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