The close season is the time of year when football managers are at their safest in their jobs. There are no actual matches to play which anyone cares about. And you can dress pre-season friendly tournaments up all you like, but no one cares a jot if Manchester United beat LA Galaxy or not. Even Galaxy fans probably agree.
It wasn’t always the case. As soon as the last ball was kicked they would be on the phone to agents and players trying to strengthen for the next campaign. Not these days. Bosses at the very top of the game give their chief executives a list of the players they want and tell them to get on with it.
So after their lengthy holidays have finished and the warm-ups on the pitch come thick and fast, that old feeling of dread begins to return. So we thought it worth having a look at the market to see which Premier League coach would be the first to leave his post. Cheery lot, aren’t we?
And there are a couple of bets that we fancy. Regular readers of this column won’t be surprised at who we think are in danger of getting an early sack.
Slaven Bilic at West Ham United and Craig Shakespeare at Leicester City catch the eye for us at big prices in the soccer odds board. Bilic is +600 with BetVictor and Shakespeare at +1200 with William Hill.
What we are looking for here is early season nervousness from the board of these two clubs. And it’s reasonable to expect we will get it.
At West Ham, relegation is a spectre which terrifies more than most because, at times, it has been a possibility. And under Bilic, West Ham have often gone on disastrous sequences of results.
At the start of last season they won two of their first nine in all competitions. In October they went without a win in seven. They repeated that trick in February through until April.
Another dodgy start could have the owners ready to pull the trigger with the line that “there has been no discernible upturn in results since last season”. Nor will they be helped by the first three games being away at Man United, Southampton and Newcastle.
Shakespeare is probably the luckiest manager in the EPL. It seems he only got the job because the players all thought he was their mate. And that sparked an upturn in results that saw them safe from relegation.
But that sort of coaching style does not produce results long term. As Shakespeare found out. Leicester won two of their last ten games. A repeat of that and the powers at the King Power will certainly not hesitate on pulling the trigger.