by Rob Dore
Even when there are no winners or losers someone can still lose out. After both of Sunday’s Premier League games ended 1-1 the Premier League managerial sack race has been shaken up and QPR manager Mark Hughes sifted to the top. Or the bottom, depending on whether you manage QPR or not.
Failing to beat Reading at Loftus Road early on Sunday leaves QPR without a win after ten league games. The London side’s run of games without victory has crept in to double figures and despite another vote of confidence from club chairman Tony Fernandes before the game didn’t remove the need for Mark Hughes to ask for more time after it
If Southampton win or draw away to West Brom on Monday night, QPR will drop to the bottom of the league. Having been allowed to make a significant number of signings over the summer period, Hughes can have few excuses over personnel. The brewing wrath on the terraces will fall squarely on his shoulders. With an away trip to Stoke up next a defeat there will pile on the pressure for their next home game. A ‘six-pointer’ against Southampton.
Fernandes may still be on board but the pressure is mounting for Mark Hughes, the kind of pressure only a few wins can relieve. Failure at Loftus Road will be another step backwards in his career for the former Wales manager so he has a lot to lose if a change of fortune isn’t on the horizon. On current form this looks to be a drag race between Hughes and Nigel Adkins.
Coming up from the Championship the Southampton head honcho started the season with lower expectations on his shoulders than Mark Hughes. Nigel Adkins has at least won a league game this season but defeat to West Brom will leave Southampton bottom of the heap with four points from ten games. An average which, if stretched over the season, would leave the Saints on 15 points, maybe 16 if generously rounded up. Either way Championship football would be a certainty.
Adkins remains confident he’ll ‘get time from the board’ but the amount of time he’ll get is anchored firmly to how many points Southampton can accrue. No matter how long the chain is.
Even a draw at the Hawthornes will see Adkins drift in the Premier League sack race market. With games against QPR and Swansea coming up Adkins has some decent opportunities to increase his price. If he picks up five points or more from these games the noose will loosen but if a gap starts to open up Souhtampton chairman Nicola Cortese may start thinking about pulling the lever.
A decidedly sluggish start to the season, particularly in the Champions League, and the arrival of former Barcelona director of football Txiki Begiristain to the Etihad Stadium, has led to rumours of the unemployed Pep Guardiola being courted to take over from Roberto Mancini. Rumours which the Italian has probably inflamed in his attempts to put them out. Being the reigning champions should afford Mancini more time but it’s difficult to predict the tell what is going on in the ivory tower. He’s now 8/1 to be the first to go.
The draw with QPR was a better result for Reading boss Brian McDermott but five points from nine Premier League games leaves last seasons Championship winners in the bottom three and four points clear of safety. Not losing as many games as those below him, drawing five times, gives the Royals boss a little more breathing room but not that much. At 16/1 to be the first to get the sack McDermott looks safe-ish, for now.
Losing 1-0 at home to his former club Aston leaves Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill on 16/1. With a run of games against Man Utd, Man City and Arsenal next for Aston Villa, the Irishman’s odds could shorten drastically over the next few weeks. Andre Villas-Boas and Brendan Rodgers are reasonably comfortable at their prospective helms at 25/1 apiece. Rodgers will retain some striker related sympathy until the transfer window reopens but if someone doesn’t start helping Suarez out with the old-scoring the sympathy may have worn thin by January. AVB suffered a round of booing from the home fans after Spurs’ home loss to Wigan. The lack of consistency is frustrating but he has picked up enough points so far to keep himself safe.