Hodgson Wins Premier League Sack Race
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Hodgson Wins Premier League Sack Race


Neville Wells- 21 January 2011 

On Saturday 8th January after a string of bad results Roy Hodgson became the first in what many predict will be a spate of managerial sacking in the English Premier league.

There are a number of other big names with their necks on the chopping block right now as player power, fan power and all powerful mega rich owners make the life of a premier league manager more precarious than ever. Ancelotti at Chelsea, Avram Grant at West Ham, Roberto Mancini at Manchester City, and Gerard Houllier at Aston Villa could all soon share Hodgson’s fate. For Villa and West Ham the threat is relegation, while Ancelotti’s Chelsea are facing the real possibility of not even qualifying for the Champions League. Both these fates would result in a serious blow to the bank balance. In Manchester City’s case it is not the bank balance but the return on investment that will be hit.  


Hodgon’s was not the first sacking of the season; that honour went to Chris Hughton of Newcastle United who was sacked back at the start of December. Although Newcastle are a club with great expectations, nobody was complaining at being 11th in the Premier League in their first season after being promoted from the Championship. Although they were a team struggling for consistency (they beat fierce local rivals Sunderland 5-1, but lost by the same score line away to Bolton) nobody expected club owner Mike Ashley to step in and sack Hughton and replace him with Alan Pardew who had last been in the Premier League getting relegated with West Ham. Just as bizarre was the sacking of Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce by the new owners of the club, Indian investors who made their fortune in chicken farming. Although many fans were not over-enthusiastic about the style of play, without any financial backing Allardyce had taken Blackburn from certain relegation candidates when he took over in 2008 to a side with a good chance of finishing in the top half of the table.


While the sackings of Allardyce and Hughton were unexpected bolts from seemingly impulsive owners, Hodgson seems to have been doomed from the start. Despite being appointed by the previous owners Hodgson seemed to have the support from NESVE who took over the club in October. However, he never managed to win over the Anfield crowd as the team and in particular Fernando Torres, started this season just as badly as they finished last season under Rafa Benitez. Just last season Hodgson took his Fulham side to the final of the Europa League and was being put forward as one of the favourites to succeed Capello as England manager. He probably saw his mission at Anfield as one of consolidation, but that was not what the supporters were expecting. Neither were they expecting to lose to at home Northampton Town in the Carling Cup and Blackpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League. So a combination of fan power and player power has lead to the sacking of Hodgson and the appointment of legendary Liverpool player and manager Kenny Dalglish. Although Kenny’s name is enough to inspire not just Kop, but the entire red half of the city, will it be enough to inspire the mostly foreign squad who were too young to witness the great Liverpool side of the 1980s? Dalglish has his work cut out and sooner or later results will have to improve. Mediocrity is just not acceptable on Merseyside, but the current squad doesn’t seem to offer much else unless Torres and Gerard can start to carry the team again as they did in the past.   


Now that Hodgson has gone the next most likely victim of the chop seems to be Avram Grant and betting websites seem to agree with this. Despite good results (draw two, win two, lose one) over the Christmas period West Ham are still bottom of the Premier League. The fact that they are also just 5 points away from 11th in the tightest table we have seen for years will not be accepted as mitigation. Ironically perhaps the greatest threat to Grant’s survival is that Roy Hodgson and Sam Allardyce are unemployed. Both have fantastic records and turning round desperate situations and perhaps offer the best chance for West Ham to stay up.


Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season so far has been the terrible form of Aston Villa under new manager Gerard Houllier. Last year under Martin O’Neill they finished 6th but they are now third from bottom and having lost 4 out of the last 6 games the team shows no sign of recovering. After leaving Liverpool in 2004 Houllier successfully managed Olimpique Lyon taking them to 2 league titles in 2006 and 2007. He is a manager with a proven track record yet but has somehow not managed to turn around an Aston Villa side that seems unable to get over the shock of Martin O’Neill’s departure. American owner Randy Learner has invested a lot in the club over recent year and will soon have to decide how much longer he can wait before getting rid of Houllier.


Although Chelsea’s dip in form was somewhat predictable nobody expected it to be quite so extreme. With no investment in the club and a pre-season purge of some excess players on high wages (Ballack, Decco etc) injuries to ageing Lampard and Terry and an out of form Drogba suffering from malaria have seen Chelsea hit relegation form over the last two months. Having won only 3 out of their last 12 league matches all eyes are now on owner Ambraovitch who seems to have two choices: put the blame on Ancelotti and sack him or invest more money in the club to give them a greater chance of at least winning a Champions League place. A 7-0 win over Ipswich in the FA Cup and a win over Bolton in the league may have taken some of the heat off temporarily but big changes at Chelsea seem likely.


Perhaps the manager with the greatest burden on his shoulders is Macini at Manchester City. Although now second in the league they have been far from convincing. The total sum of spending since Sheikh Mansour took over the club in the summer of 2008 has reached £326.8 million (384 million Euros), but City are not much better than they were when Mancini took over just over a year ago. Their higher league position is partly down to the lack of points that their rivals have collected rather than a significant improvement in their own form. A finish out of the top four may seem unlikely but if it happens or comes close to happening the owners will have no problem signing Mancini’s large redundancy cheque. Who next for City after that? Perhaps a return to the Premier League for the special one. Whatever the outcome of all this speculation one thing is for sure, events off the pitch are going to attract as much attention as events on it. {jcomments on}         

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Degerli yazarimiz Neville Wells Pazartesi, 26 Temmuz 2010.


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