As we approach the winter break in Premier League action, the league appears to be fairly stable from a coaching standpoint. While there are of course plenty of clubs that would rather be performing better than they are, there are no drastic situations, such as Chelsea in 2015-16, that make it clear a sacking is in order. But because no one is ever safe at the highest levels of football, let’s take a look at a few managers who probably shouldn’t be too comfortable heading into December.
If there is a manager who seems to be on the hot seat, it’s West Brom’s Tony Pulis. Having been in charge of the team for only a couple of years, he’s not too deeply entrenched to be let go unceremoniously in the middle of the season – and his club’s performance has been dreadful to date. After a respectable 10th place finish last season, West Brom has won only two of its first 11 matches, with a -5 composite goal differential. Making matters worse, the optics aren’t particularly good: Pulis recently escaped to Barbados for a break with West Brom sitting just clear of the relegation zone.
Frank de Boer
Opinions seem to be split on how hot Frank de Boer’s seat is. On the one hand, he was just hired this past summer, and such a quick sacking would betray a degree of front office ineptitude. On the other hand, Crystal Palace sits dead last in the league with just a single win to date, after finishing 14th a season ago. De Boer was called the odds-on favourite to be the first for the chop in a preseason article about the EPL “sack race,” and he may still hold that dubious honour. It’s also a good bet that he gets at least a little bit more time to get a hold of his club and straighten things out, however.
Swansea City sits firmly in the relegation zone at this early stage, when some expected it to be a more competitive side. That can always put a manager in the front office’s crosshairs, though for what it’s worth the team itself appears to want no part of Clement sacking rumours. “We are all really behind Paul,” said team captain Federico Fernandez after an embarrassing home loss recently. Fernandez seemed to imply the team preferred continuity and would attempt to solve problems internally, as a unit. If it doesn’t happen quickly, however, Clement could still be in trouble.
Looking beyond these three would be getting into pure speculation. Mauricio Pellegrino can’t be feeling too comfortable at Southampton with his team under-performing, and there will be Arsene Wenger rumours as long as Arsenal remains a half step below the top tier of the EPL. Some might even suggest that Chelsea boss Antonio Conte should be concerned given his repeated clashes with top players and major organisational figures. But if anyone is going to be sacked mid-season, look to the three names above first.