August 19, 2017

Which manager is getting the taxi?

Perhaps the only premiership manager we can safely say will still be in charge of his club next season is Arsene Wenger. It is increasingly becoming obvious that only he will decide when he leaves the Emirates. In the cut throat, results-controlled world of the English premier league,  no other manager is immune to the sack.

Normally, you would expect the managers fighting for relegation to first get the sack and not the defending champion. However, as we discovered with Claudio Ranieri at Leicester and Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, winning the league the previous year does not guarantee you will not get sacked the next.

Also, as we discovered with Dick Advocaat at Sunderland and Sam Allardyce at several clubs, fighting a relegation battle a previous year does not mean you won’t be BEGGED to renew your contract and stay for the long haul.

One thing you can bet your house on is the fact that not all the 20 managers who started the Premiership this season will still be in charge at the end. The twist though is that it doesn’t necessarily mean that all the managers who leave their posts this season will be sacked; some of them may resign.

Antonio Conte replaced Mourinho at Chelsea. He strolled to the title last season. The Chelsea faithful were happy with him. They believe they have found the new Special One. Everyone seems to think so too, including Conte himself. However, like a young couple just back from honeymoon, the reality of the situation at hand seems to be dawning on both Conte and the big bosses at the Bridge. While Conte likes to be in total control of the transfer market, Chelsea already have a committee of big guns led by our brother, Mike Emenalo that contributes the telling input of who comes and goes.

Conte found this out the hard way. In January this year, he had agreed with the board that he would get rid of Diego Costa but at the end of the season when he sacked the player allegedly via text message, he was shocked when he didn’t receive the expected backing from the board.

He took the bashing from the media and fans alike. It was not until this week that the Chelsea hierarchy deemed it necessary to show support and confirm Costa’s sack was a joint decision between the club and the manager. By that time, the damage had been done. It was made even worse by the fact that Nemanja Matic had been sold to Manchester United managed by Conte’s bitter rival, a certain Jose Mourinho.

Conte never wanted Matic to be sold, at least not this season. He was counting on his experience and power so it would give him the chance to ease new boy Bakayoko  into the Premiership. Now due to the show of power from the board, Conte has to either rush an injured Bakayoko into the fray or get an experienced premiership player in. That’s why he is showing interest in Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater with the hope of reuniting him with his old partner, N’Golo Kante.

All is not so rosy at Stamford Bridge so don’t be surprised if Conte walks and returns home leaving Chelsea to look for another manager. He did it at Juventus and the Italian national team, he won’t hesitate to do it again if need be.

Similar to Conte’s situation at the Bridge is JURGEN KLOPP’s at Anfield. The German manager has been building his exciting team round Brazilian playmaker Phil Coutinho. Suddenly, after losing Neymar to PSG, Barcelona are hunting down the petite Liverpool star to replace him. By the time you are reading this, the situation may have changed, but for now, Liverpool have rejected a £90m bid for Coutinho.

Reports from Spain and England claim that the bosses at Liverpool do not mind selling the player and that the only reason he is still a Liverpool player is because the manager refused to sell him, especially with Lallana out injured. But in the world of profits, I don’t see Liverpool owners rejecting a £100m plus bid from Barcelona if as expected, it is tabled. How will Klopp deal with this? Will he shrug his shoulders and say “ oh well, life goes on “ or will he see Liverpool as a club not willing and capable to match his ambitions?He left Mainz 05, he left Borrusia Dortmund, he can jolly well leave Liverpool too even though he is contracted to the club until 2022.

From a present Liverpool manager to a former one.

RAFA BENITEZ won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool. He is rated as one of their most successful managers in the post millennium years. He is now with Newcastle United whom he took to relegation and brought straight back up to the premiership. Benitez is used to getting world class players to play for him.

Now at Newcastle United, he is discovering a new side to life. Most of his players are Championship-rated and he has been struggling to get the Newcastle management to release funds so he can get premiership-tested players. For a manager who has been in charge of Real Madrid, having to beg for funds to get players will be a bit strange to Rafa and unconfirmed reports claim he is thinking of jumping ship if he is not supported with cash by the club. As a proud Spanish man with respected pedigree, he won’t want to stain his record by getting relegated twice in three years.

The link goes on. CHRIS HUGHTON was Newcastle United caretaker manager in 2008. They were relegated that year but he brought them back to the premiership. He was made a permanent manager only to be sacked same year when the club was in the 12th position. Hughton, born to a Ghanaian father and an Irish mum has been so unlucky in the Premiership. He usually gets employed but also usually, gets sacked. His good performances never seem to count for anything. He is almost always rated by his not so good works. With Martin Jol at Spurs, he took the North London club to two consecutive 5th place position  (2005-06 and 2006-07) but that didn’t stop him getting the sack. He was sacked at Norwich in April 2014. He joined Brighton shortly after. He led the club to the premiership for the first time since 1983. But we have been here before. The only black manager in the Premiership doesn’t seem to last long. Don’t expect this time to be any different.