Date: 16th August 2008 at 1:42pm
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Now I’m not a gambling man but if there’s one annual event I always consider having a punt on it’s the first person to leave their post as manager of a premiership club.

Needless to say I normally get it wrong, last season I went for the easy option and plumped for Billy Davies and never even considered the surprise departures of Martin Jol or the ‘special one’. This year I’ve been a little more thoughtful and have come up with a system.
The system is simple. I’ve used four categories. The category is ‘Safe as houses‘. These are the managers who I can’t see getting sacked in a month of Sundays. Next up are ‘The Survivors‘ who I believe will do ‘as’ or ‘better than’ expected, whatever the expectations are. The third category is for those managers whose position will be ‘Dodgy Come Christmas‘ if the team are struggling.. at either end of the table. The final category ‘Under Pressure‘ is for those who are expected to deliver some quite unrealistic expectations and who I believe will be among the first to be handed their P45.

Let’s get the safe ones out of the way first

Safe as Houses

Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
As much as I love to hate the bloke ‘Sir Alex’ has done it all and has a job for life as a reward. It’s inconceivable to think about Manyoo without ‘Old Purple Nose’ and although he’ll move upstairs at some stage it isn’t gonna be this year. Fergie will be in place come May as sure as eggs is eggs.

Harry Redknapp (Portsmouth)
He turned down a multi million pound move to Newcastle to stay with us and then went on to deliver the FA Cup. A numbers of other premiership clubs would love him but ‘Our ‘arry’ ain’t going anywhere. Even relegation wouldn’t bring him the sack, he’s as safe as Fergie and is in the job until he decides otherwise .. or perhaps until Sandbanks sinks.

Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Arsene Wenger is Mr Arsenal. He’s not only won silverware, he’ single-handedly built the Emirates and has turned Arsenal into a global brand all at the same time as developing a team that plays the most attractive football in the premiership. No silverware for a few years will be playing on his mind, but Arsene and Arsenal are tied at the hip.

Martin O’Neill (Aston Villa)
A good finish last season coupled by significant investments in the squad this summer means the telly pundit with a big passion for the game is now establishing the team ‘he wants’ to have a crack at breaking into the top four. I’m sure he’ll be given the whole of this season and possibly next before too many questions are asked.

Luiz Felipe Scolari (Chelsea)
I thought about this one long and hard but came to the conclusion that ‘Big Phil’ will get a fair crack of the whip to make his mark. He has such a great group of players to choose from it’s difficult to imagine Chelsea failing to win something even with me in charge! I reckon he just about creeps into the ‘safe as houses’ category, as long as Mr Abramovich lets him do things his way.

I’m a survivor

Roy Keane (Sunderland)
Keano is a managerial star in the making. Another Fergie perhaps? The players seem to love him and Niall Quinn and the board are backing him all the way. He’s not going anywhere unless things get really bad, and even then it’s more likely that he will walk rather than get fired. Sunderland will be fine this year and so will Keane.

Roy Hodgson (Fulham)
Mr Harrods brought Hodgson in to do a job at the end of last season and thanks to Pompey’s FA Cup exploits he did it. If the Cottagers start ok I’d expect Roy to be given the whole season. I’m not convinced he can take them above 11th but if he can keep them out of the relegation battle then that’s got to be seen as an improvement. Al Fayed gave Coleman time, he’ll do the same with Hodgson.

David Moyes (Everton)
Moyes is one of the bookies favourites to go but I just don’t see it – Who could they get that would do any better? And where could he go that would offer him the challenge that Everton does?. The top toffees have stuck by him in sticky times and they will stick by him again. In my book the most consistent manager in the premiership.

Juande Ramos (Tottenham)
On the face of it it looks like Ramos has splashed the cash big time, but closer inspection reveals that he’s balanced the books pretty well. He won the Carling Cup in his first season and stabilised Spurs in mid-table. Expect a different proposition this year, he has had time to get his feet under the table and we are now going to see Juande’s rather than Jol’s team take on the big boys. My only doubt about his security is that if Spurs are successful Ramos might be lured by a bigger pay packet on the continent, but expect to see him in N17 next summer.

Gareth Southgate (Middlesbrough)
Southgate fell on his feet when he took this job. Steve Gibson has been true to his word and given Gareth time to learn his trade. Alfonso Alves is the key player for me, if he scores the goals Boro’ could hit the top 12, if not they could get dragged into an early relegation scrap and then we’ll see how valued Southgate is. All in all though I think the premiership is weaker this season so Boro will pick up the points they need to secure Gareth’s job for another year.

Dodgy come Christmas

Rafael Benitez (Liverpool)
If Liverpool start well the problems of last seasons Rafa-Gillet-Hicks tug of love will be long forgotten. If they don’t I think Rafa is in real danger. The chasing pack are closing in on the bottom of the top four and if Liverpool’s Champions League status is deemed to be in danger I’m sure we’ll see a change in management. Christmas could be the crunch time for the Reds but I hope Rafa is ok. I quite like the bloke!

Tony Mowbray (West Brom)
Everybody expects West Brom to be the latest Reading and be the promoted team to do well. I just don’t see it personally. They could score goals in the Championship but boy did they leak them too. If the prem proves harder to score in and harder to defend in they could be in real trouble. Mowbray must target survival and I’m sure he will but he’ll only be given so long before the board that showed no patience with Megson or Robson get their knives out once again.

Phil Brown (Hull City)
Hull relegated by Xmas? I hope not but they will struggle this year that’s for sure. Knowing how hard the job is going to be the board should stick with him no matter what. They probably will for a while at least, but if they are still in the scrap come March expect a change, if for no other reason that a new broom can sweep clean .. Just like Derby did last year .. Davis and Jewell.. That worked didn’t it!

Tony Pulis (Stoke City)
Long ball Pulis we know all about – Sacked by October I hope so I don’t have to see his face on Match of the Day! I just see Stoke getting mauled every week and if they don’t have the money to change their players then the manager is generally the one to go. He’ll be safe for a while as expectations are low but once Christmas is over I think we’ll see him looking up at the 19 teams above him and then looking over his shoulder for his Chairman wielding an axe.

Steve Bruce (Wigan)
If Wigan get sucked into a relegation battle as I expect them to then Steve Bruce’s job will definitely be on the line. His only route to safety seems to be his shrewd moves in the transfer market but even then he needs money to invest which I’m not sure his Chairman will let him have that much of. A rough time ahead for Steve I feel.

Under Pressure

Kevin Keegan (Newcastle United)
The Messiah didn’t really produce his second coming when he took over after ‘arry turned the job down and although he is the ‘local hero’ and says all the right things, I’m not convinced he can turn the Geordies unrealistic ambitions into reality especially given the fact that the £50 million war chest seems to have turned into a bit of loose change from Mike Ashley’s trouser pocket. It’ll be tough for King Kev and whether he walks or whether he’s pushed he’ll be gone by March..

Paul Ince (Blackburn Rovers)
It was always going to be a brave man that stepped in Sparky’s shoes and they don’t come much braver than ‘The Guv’nor’, but I’ve a feeling this is one step too far too soon for Incey. Blackburn are not MK Dons and although he did a great job there he needs to realise that Hughes left Blackburn for a reason, he’d taken them as far as they can go. The only way is down for Blackburn without Sparky at the helm. Expect to see Ince as one of the first casualties of the premiership campaign.

Mark Hughes (Manchester City)
Hughes wanted a challenge. Well he’s certainly got one. The Thaksin Shiniwatra situation is uncertain and although he’s publicly stated that he’s in for the long haul things may look different if the season starts badly. Sven got sacked for doing too well too soon and then dropping off as the season wore on. Hughes needs to claim the title by February to be 100% safe for the following season. A ‘Red’ at Eastlands… It just don’t add up. There will be speculation about his departure from October onwards.

Alan Curbishley (West Ham)
Poor Old Curbs one season touted as an England candidate, the next a puppet in a tug-o-love between Pardew and the West Ham Board, the next an average manager of an average team stuck in mid-table. I’m not sure what people expect of the Hammers these days other than mid table obscurity – If the board want anymore expect to see Curbs pick up his cards early doors.

Gary Megson (Bolton Wanderers)
Oh dear.. Bolton Wanderers were Big Sam and Big Sam was Bolton Wanderers. Megson will not get any leeway at The Reebok and will be expected to improve on last year’s performance massively. Megson is not up to the job. The only way for Bolton to escape a relegation battle is to kiss and make up with Big Sam and that’s what I’ll think they will do if Bolton get off to a bad start.

So there you have it. What do you think?

Stick your thoughts and comments below and we’ll ask Rug to bring the link back to life next May to see if my knowledge of the Premierships managerial situation is as laughable as my blue hair!

Written by Chix.

The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.

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