Well it’s not quite the season for mists and mellow fruitfulness just yet but it’s definitely the time when misses (by strikers) and shallow ruthlessness (by club chairmen) strike fear in the hearts of Premiership managers. Yes the football season is only a few games old but the knives are already being sharpenned as chairmen’s sphincters start to squeak. Who’s going to be winner of the annual race to be first manager to walk down the road clutching his P45 and £multi-million pay-off?
It’s understandable, after seeing his Portsmouth side lose their first 7 Premiership games on the trot, that Paul Hart is everyone’s favourite for the chop. After doing well last year to keep Portsmouth up, his side has been ransacked following the club’s take over by some dodgy Arab businessman who’s cashed in the club’s primary assets faster than Danielle Lloyd moves on to the next rich footballer and true ‘love of her life’. But I actually think there are a number of reasons why Hart might survive for a while yet at least; a) he’s actually doing a decent job in the circumstances. He played no part in the sale of the club’s outstanding players and he was given a pittance in fees to recruit replacements. Despite all this the side aren’t playing bad football and have been really unlucky, from the highlights I’ve seen, not to have drawn if not won several of their league matches b) he’s not likley to be on the highest managerial wages in the Premiership but the club’s finances are in such a state that it’s unlikely the club could afford to sack him and make him a severance payment c) the charman looks like he knows as much about football as my auntie Betty but he’s a businessman and will be reluctant to get rid of an obvious scapegoat and put pressure back on himself by jettisoning the hapless Hart.
Before the week-end I would have put a little money on Megson losing his job as the miserable and unloved manager of the increasingly dour Bolton Wanderers. But an away-win at equally grim Birmingham City has seen the Trotters leapfrog ahead of the Blues into 13th place in the table and luckily for Megson, allowed him to keep his position for now.
My favourite for the chop is the manager for whom the words ‘ooh look at me’ could have been specially minted. It’s Hull City’s Phil Brown of course, who this time last year was talking about taking the Tigers into the Champions League. Yeh right. Ever since Brown undermined his position of respect with the players by keeping them on the on the pitch last season to give them a half-time lambasting in full view of the crowd, they’ve barely drawn let alone won a game and they’re certs for the drop in my view. And if that piece of misplaced showmanship wasn’t bad enough, he continues to attract derision for his orange perma-tan, the dodgy leather jackets and pink sweaters worn frat boy style and, of course, for that ridiculous headset/mouthpiece he wears during matches. Just who is he talking and listening to? I can only guess he’s asked his assistant to stand high up in the stands to comment on the game from a different perspective. It must have been fun on Saturday as Brown asked his assistant for his strategic assessment on the match with Liverpool…’Er, it’s a mess gaffer; we’ve losing 6 fuc*ing 1′. A loss against Wigan next up and I reckon Brown’s number’s up.
Best outside bet for a mutual consent departure to beat the first ruthless sacking – sadly the very admirable Gianfranco Zola at West Ham, another train crash club waiting to happen?
In the other leagues it’s hard to look beyond Paul Sturrock at Plymouth, Ipswich’s beleagured Roy Keane and that poor sap at Notts County, McParland, who is nailed on to be replaced by some big time charlie of a manager any day now. Did I read over the week-end that Mancini was on his way to join the Sven revolution? It’ll no doubt be as successful as the Sol Campbell experiment.