Speculation surrounding your future in your current employment role is never an easy thing for anyone to have to deal with, and football managers face such talk on a regular basis. They say any manager is potentially only ever three defeats from the sack, and in reality that number can be much smaller on occasion.
Call it what you will – the sack race, the managerial merry-go-round, whatever floats your boat. The fact is, however, that managers do tend to come and go – sometimes of their own volition, but often it is unfortunately the will of chairman, or even players or fans (as we have already seen once this season with Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland departure after only 13 games at the helm).
It is unusual at this stage of the season to have already seen the first casualty, and so discussion moves on to one very simple question – who is next?
A simple question in and of itself, perhaps, but a complicated one to answer. So many factors come in to play when considering each manager’s credentials and chances of continuing to occupy his current office.
That said, some managers would certainly seem to be safer than others. The new men in charge of three of England’s top teams will surely be given at least until the end of the season to prove their worth to their new employers. David Moyes arrives to replace an icon of modern football in Sir Alex Ferguson, who held the reins at United for a full 26-years – a pretty unheard of achievement in today’s game.
Jose Mourinho returned for a second stint at Chelsea – again, not too common an occurrence, and Manuel Pellegrini’s start as Man City boss has many claiming that he can deliver the title straight back to the City of Manchester Stadium.
Arsene Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal has now extended beyond 17 years, and the likes of Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton surely have time on their hands considering the impressive jobs they are doing at their respective clubs, coupled with their evident long-term plans.
So, let’s return to the previous question – who is next? Cardiff City boss Malky McKay seems to be the odds-on favourite, with recent backroom changes being forced upon the club against his own wishes, with trusted right-hand man Iain Moody being forcibly replaced by 23-year-old Alisher Apsalyamov.
Crisis talks at the club on Monday could potentially see McKay walk the walk and join Italian Paolo Di Canio in this season’s Departures Lounge. While the cash returns will be small, a punt here would seem to ensure some sort of small return as long as betting is yet to be suspended.
Martin Jol at Fulham, meanwhile, sits second favourite, and while odds of 5/1 appear tempting a bet on anything other than McKay at this stage appears crazy.
At the end of the day, betting on likely relegation candidates in October is always going to be a risky business. And some footballers have found a new approach to earning a fast buck, while others play in tournaments. One such player is ex-Aston Villa and Valencia striker John Carew. After having played against other footballers Gerard Pique and Ronaldo in a Poker game in Barcelona recently, Carew revealed the reason why he felt so many ex-footballers are setting up at the table:
“Footballers like card games, we play them a lot. It gives you some of the same feelings you get from football, the adrenaline, it’s a fun game, full of strategy, so I can understand why so many sportsmen are getting involved.”