With the average shelf life of a manager across all four divisions of the English football pyramid down to an alarming 1.23 years – the shortest since 1992 – there is little room for error in the grand scheme of modern football management.
The pressure on Premier League managers alone has become so acute in recent years, owing much to the billion pound TV deal and inflated expectations of club owners, that even the most high-profile of bosses are now vulnerable to the axe.
Eight top-flight clubs changed their manager last season and more are expected to lose their jobs this time around. Here are five who are expected to be under intense scrutiny in the early stages of 2015/16.
Jose Mourinho – Chelsea
It seems nonsensical to suggest the manager of the reigning Premier League champions and pre-season favourites could lose his job at such an embryonic stage of the season, but Mourinho has invited pressure onto himself following Chelsea’s indifferent start and the utterly farcical “Physio-gate”.
One win and four points from five games doesn’t tell the entire story of the Blues’ surprising early season malaise and ‘The Special One’ must banish all distractions with the visit of Arsenal up next if he is to avoid Roman Abramovich’s notoriously itchy trigger finger.
Brendan Rodgers – Liverpool
The bookmakers’ favourite to be the first Premier League manager to be sacked, Rodgers is under increasingly intense scrutiny to deliver in his fourth season on Merseyside.
Liverpool have invested £67 million in seven new faces, acting with greater decisiveness and rationale on the recruitment front this year following last summer’s chaotic club record £117m spend on nine players with Rodgers once again the man entrusted to knit together a team capable of breaching the top-four.
Two wins, a draw and a three clean sheets suggested Rodgers had Liverpool heading in the right direction, but the knives are out once again following a 2-0 to West Ham at Anfield prior to the International break and a calamitous 3-1 loss to Manchester United.
Quique Flores – Watford
Flores is the sixth manager to take office at Vicarage Road since the Pozzo Family bought Watford three years prior, with the managerial baton changing hands four times alone last season as the club were promoted to the Premier League following a nine-year absence.
The Spaniard has overseen an unprecedented squad overhaul during the summer, signing 16 players and allowing 17 to depart, though he could find himself out of a job before he’s even figured out his best eleven should results go south and the Hornets hierarchy feel another change is required. Victory over Swansea undoubtedly helps but as we’ve seen, the club owners are not renowned for their patience.
Mauricio Pochettino – Tottenham Hotspur
Six of the last 13 permanent managers at Tottenham have parted company with the club before Christmas decorations have been dusted off, meaning Pochettino must improve Spurs’ fortunes if he is to make it to December unscathed and out of Daniel Levy’s crossfire.
The Argentinian guided Spurs to fifth in his debut season at White Hart Lane – much was owed to Harry Kane’s goal scoring prowess – and is expected to push Spurs into the top-four this term, though the pressure is already mounting after managing just three draws, a defeat and a measly three goals in their opening four matches. Sunday’s win over struggling Sunderland was less than convincing.
Dick Advocaat – Sunderland
Dutchman Advocaat may be regretting his u-turn during the summer as his Sunderland side prop up the table. There were some encouraging signs in the most recent defeat at home to Spurs but the new front pairing of Defoe and Borini need to be more clinical up front.
Unless fortunes improve, the only real question is whether Advocaat will jump before he is pushed.