Robbie Savage: Premier League sacking season about to start

Robbie Savage

In his regular BBC Sport column, Robbie Savage looks at which managers are most at risk of being the first to lose their jobs in the Premier League this season, and why we will not have to wait long to see the first top-flight managerial casualty.

It is refreshing to see that no Premier League managers have been sacked yet this season but I am sad to say I cannot see that statistic lasting much longer.

Forget unhappy fans, player power or impatient owners - there is one big reason why managers of teams at the bottom of the table are at risk, and his name is Tony Pulis.

It is not his fault, but all the chairmen and owners out there will see what Pulis did at Crystal Palace last season, when he came in and kept the Eagles up, and think 'he saved them, and he can save us'.

Despite what some Arsenal and Liverpool fans might say - and I have heard a few idiotic comments from them on my 606 show on BBC Radio 5 live - there is nobody available right now who could improve on Arsene Wenger or Brendan Rodgers at the top end of the Premier League. They are under pressure, but they are staying put.

But, with Pulis waiting in the wings, it is a different story for the clubs fighting relegation.

Where will Pulis end up?

Tony Pulis
Pulis steered Palace to safety last season but left 48 hours before the start of the current campaign

The men in most danger of losing their jobs - wrongly, in my view - are Leicester City's Nigel Pearson, West Brom's Alan Irvine and QPR's Harry Redknapp.

Redknapp finds himself in the reverse of the position he was in two years ago when, like Pulis is now, he was out of work but seen as the potential saviour for several struggling teams.

QPR took the plunge, sacked Mark Hughes, and appointed Harry.

Now we are waiting to see who will crack first and go for Pulis.

It is unusual that it has not happened already - if everyone survives the weekend then it will be 18 years since we have got as far into a season without any top-flight managers changing jobs, and there will have been only two seasons in the Premier League era where there has been a longer wait.

Longest waits for a Premier League managerial change from the start of a season
1992-9315 FebruaryChelseaIan Porterfield
1995-962 JanuaryBoltonRoy McFarland
2010-117 DecemberNewcastleChris Hughton

That is partly down to the table being so close - nobody is out of touch with the top four or cut adrift at the bottom.

But, with Christmas fast approaching, the first sacking will definitely happen soon. The January transfer window always seems to help chairmen make their mind up about whether they have the right man for the job, and to spend their money.

In danger - the men closest to the edge

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson, West Brom head coach Alan Irvine and QPR boss Harry Redknapp
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson, West Brom head coach Alan Irvine and QPR boss Harry Redknapp

When your owner has a big helicopter that lands on the pitch to pick him up after every home game, like Leicester's Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha does, then you know he is seriously rich and wants to stay in the Premier League.

Unfortunately for Foxes boss Nigel Pearson, my old club are bottom of the table with two points from their last nine games and every mistake his team makes at the moment seems to lead to an opposition goal.

I hope they stick with Pearson, because he is a good manager who got them up in the first place.

Knowing how hard winning promotion to the Premier League is, I think he should be given a full season to try to keep him there. Ideally, he would be in the same situation as Burnley's Sean Dyche, who is under no pressure whatsoever.

But being realistic, things do not look good for Pearson and he is the manager who is most at risk.

Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha travels to and from home games by helicopter, which he lands on the pitch
Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha travels to and from home games by helicopter, which he lands on the pitch

West Brom manager Alan Irvine is not far behind him, though.

You might think Irvine would get a bit more time because, apart from his predecessor Pepe Mel, each of the Baggies' last five managers got at least 15 months, and Irvine has only been in charge since June.

But this time last year, they got rid of Steve Clarke after four straight defeats, which is exactly the run Irvine is on now.

I have spoken to Clarke since his exit and he said that, when it happened, he had no inkling he was about to be sacked.

He made the point that, at a club like West Brom, you will go on runs like that every season and it is down to the chairman Jeremy Peace to stick with the manager.

Irvine, who was a surprise appointment in the first place, could be about to find out how much patience Peace has got. His next three games are all against fellow strugglers - Hull, Aston Villa and QPR - and West Brom's form has to improve soon.

The next few games will be massive for Harry Redknapp at QPR too, starting against Burnley on Saturday.

As well as Pulis, Redknapp has got Glenn Hoddle in the background at Loftus Road as a potential replacement, and an owner in Tony Fernandes who has shown he is not afraid to change things when his side have struggled in the past.

Does it work? It did for Palace with Pulis. But sacking their manager did not help any of the three relegated teams last season, when Fulham tried it twice.

After watching Leicester play Liverpool this week, and from what I've seen of West Brom and QPR recently, all of those teams looked like they were still playing for their manager.

That will help them, but it won't necessarily save them. At Leicester in 2001, I was one of a few senior players who went to see the chairman when Peter Taylor was under pressure, because we liked him.

We asked for him to be given more time and bought him a few more games but, in the end, results dictated he had to go - they always do.

Safe for now, but must do better

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert and Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert and Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino have both been under pressure

So far this season, there has been speculation about 11 of the 20 Premier League managers losing their jobs.

There were newspaper reports last month that Neil Warnock was on the brink of getting sacked by Crystal Palace after only a few games in charge,external-link but I don't see it happening myself.

At least Warnock does not have to worry about stories that Pulis is going to get his job, because he only left Selhurst Park in August and there is no way he is going back there.

Paul Lambert is unpopular with the Aston Villa fans but, if you look at his win-ratio since he took over, he is not doing any worse this season than before.

Paul Lambert with Aston Villa (Premier League)
2014-15 win %Overall win % (since Aug 2012)

Villa owner Randy Lerner stuck by him before, plus he gave him a new four-year contract in September. He is surely not going to get rid of him now.

Speaking of win-ratios, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino's is lower than that of both of his predecessors; Tim Sherwood and Andre Villas-Boas.

Win % as Tottenham manager (Premier League)
ManagerGamesWin %
Tim Sherwood2259%
Andre Villas-Boas5454%
Mauricio Pochettino1443%

Pochettino has only been in charge since the summer but he is already under pressure because of the record that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has in getting rid of his managers who fall short of expectations.

His job certainly shouldn't be in danger, though, because Spurs need stability now.

I don't think they will make the top four, but they need to stick with a manager for a longer period and give him a chance.

I remember thinking not so long ago that Manchester City were on the brink of a crisis, but their transformation in form has been incredible.

Even so, I think City boss Manuel Pellegrini has to deliver in the Champions League.

Like Liverpool boss Rodgers, he needs a result in his side's final group game next week. But while I think Rodgers is safe whatever happens, it is a much bigger game for Pellegrini.

We are talking about the end of the season, not anytime soon, but his long-term future could depend on City reaching the knockout stages - you only have to look at what happened to his predecessor Roberto Mancini when he failed in Europe.

Going nowhere - apart from up

It is only a couple of weeks since Brendan Rodgers claimed he was favourite to get sacked, but he is not alone in being a manager who has responded to pressure with hugely improved results.

We all saw the banner telling Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger it was time to go, but he is now on a run of three wins with three clean sheets.

Arsene Wenger out banner
Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League in 17 straight seasons but some fans want more

A season with Wenger is like watching a James Bond film, in that you know exactly what you are going to get - for car chases, gadgets and a villain who always loses in the end, you get a cup run, the knockout stages of the Champions League and, eventually, the top four in the Premier League again.

Even if the board does want to try something new, then it is not going to happen mid-season, and Wenger is never going to be sacked.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew's future looked far less secure a couple of months ago, when he came under the most pressure I have ever seen a manager have to deal with, and he showed great character to cope with it.

In September, I wrote in one of my BBC Sport columns that Pardew sounded like a broken man and that it was hard to see him surviving in his job for much longer, but I am delighted that he has proved me wrong.

Magpies owner Mike Ashley stuck by Pardew in the bad times and now his job has to be one of the safest there is.

It has been a similar story for Sam Allardyce at West Ham, who was widely expected to be the first manager to be sacked this season.

Like Pardew, he had to deal with fans saying he had to go, but Allardyce's critics were on his back for his team's style of play as well as results.

Look at how things have changed now on both counts. It has taken him a while to get there but it just goes to show that, if you are brave and stick with your manager, you sometimes get your rewards.

Robbie Savage was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan

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