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Three Premier League managers with uncertain futures

With the Premier League on a short winter break, discussions over the future of managers and head coaches are likely to intensify over the next few days. The impending closure of the transfer window adds a further level of complication but a rare pause in action is likely to focus chairmen’s minds across the Premier League this week.

Watford have already pulled the trigger. Claudio Ranieri was given the bullet after his side were truly appalling in a 3-0 reverse at home to fellow strugglers Norwich City last time out, with Dean Smith’s Canaries climbing out of the bottom three as a result of a massive win. Watford have taken one point from their past eight Premier League games, with a 1-1 draw away to relegation rivals Newcastle United all that had broken up their losing streak and slide right down the table.

The Hornets appeared to be totally directionless under Ranieri, with his improbable leading of Leicester City to the Premier League title a few years ago now seeming like a distant dream. It is an understatement to say the Watford board are not known for their patience, so Ranieri’s days were numbered, especially with a do-or-die trip to Burnley up next on the schedule. He had been in charge for just 13 games, with Roy Hodgson reportedly in line to take over next.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank will be sleeping easier after being handed a new long-term deal despite the Bees being on a poor run of four successive defeats in the league, but here are three more Premier League managers who could be sweating over their futures.

 

Three Premier League managers with uncertain futures

 

Marcelo Bielsa (Leeds United)

It is virtually sacrilege to suggest Leeds could sack Bielsa, but continued inconsistency means the Whites are still in the mire, especially after a home defeat to Newcastle at the weekend. Back-to-back wins over Burnley at Elland Road and away to Champions League-chasing West Ham had appeared to ease Leeds’ relegation fears, but the Newcastle loss was a big step back.

Bielsa has had his work cut out this season with a long injury list making it hard for him to name anything like his strongest XI on a regular basis, with striker Patrick Bamford a particular loss. Bamford hit 17 Premier League goals last term but has been restricted to five starts this season, while his fellow England international Kalvin Phillips is another key man to have missed time.

It is hard to imagine Leeds pushing the panic button given how heavily indebted they are to the veteran Argentine for their recent successes, but stranger things have happened in football. While some fans are starting to ask if Bielsa has taken Leeds as far as he can, most of the club’s supporters are still fully behind the 66-year-old. He should be safe – for now at least – but is certainly looking like one of the more vulnerable Premier League managers.

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Eddie Howe (Newcastle United)

Howe has only been at Newcastle a few weeks but the unique circumstances in play with the Magpies now the richest club in the world means he is operating under constant pressure. Beating Leeds was the ideal way to sign off for the winter break, but Norwich’s win at Watford means Newcastle are still in the drop zone despite being on a run of three matches unbeaten.

Howe was damaged by a humiliating home defeat to Cambridge United of League One in the FA Cup, with the ex-Burnley and Bournemouth boss also frustrated by a lack of transfer activity. The intriguing factor here is that Rafael Benitez, still a hero on Tyneside, is now available again after his miserable spell in charge of Everton came to an end recently.

Newcastle’s appointment of Howe seemed smart at the time, but the temptation to rip up the plan and start again with Benitez might be alluring for their inexperienced new owners. The bookmakers have Howe and the next man on this list as joint favourites to be sacked next.

 

Sean Dyche (Burnley)

Dyche has been at Turf Moor for nearly a decade and has historically been one of the safest managers but, with his side rock bottom of the Premier League table, there is a sense his time at the club may be coming towards its conclusion.

The 50-year-old has appeared out of ideas of late and the shock departure of Chris Wood to Newcastle after his £25 million release clause was triggered has hardly helped matters. Burnley have only managed to score 16 goals this season but when Maxwel Cornet returns from AFCON duty with Ivory Coast they will at least have a talismanic presence in their attack.

The Clarets also have their fate in their own hands, with the fewest games played in the league after a spate of postponements due to COVID and bad weather. Burnley have got two games in hand on Watford, three on Newcastle and four on Norwich. But, with only one win in the league all season, their situation appears to be increasingly desperate and Dyche could pay the price.

Rumours that Dyche and the club’s American owners, who bought the club just over a year ago do not see eye to eye on transfer targets might also push the Englishman towards the door.

 


 

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