Will a top 6 coach get the sack before November?

Published: Monday, 18 September 2023

How about this for a call? One of the top six managers will get the sack before November. And right now it’s a pretty good race.

Three of them are very firmly in the frame - ten Hag, Howe and Pochettino. Guardiola, Klopp and Arteta are as safe as houses. 

Let’s go through the first list. It might surprise you that I’ve included Eddie Howe and I very much hope I’m wrong. Howe did a fantastic job last season, but this time round it’s very different.

Newcastle haven’t made a good start but back to back games v Man City and Liverpool was a tough ask. Having said that - if you’ve got ambitions to be a top club you’ve got to be competitive in games of that nature - and certainly win games at home against other top 6 teams. Newcastle should’ve beaten Liverpool. And they should’ve got at least a point at Brighton. Top teams don’t get beaten in those games. The very best teams win them. 

They were lucky v Brentford. Gordon throwing himself at Flekken should never have resulted in a pen - so Newcastle got away with one there. Now comes the CL - a wonderful distraction that they didn’t have last season. There’s no reason why they can’t beat Milan in the San Siro, but if they don’t, do the owners start to get a bit edgy? It’s Sheff Utd at the weekend, then City in the Carabao Cup - Burnley and PSG after that. If they’re only scratching results - or worse - I can see one or two questions getting asked. Again - I hope not, but we live in a realistic world - not a romantic one.

How long has Pochettino got? Chelsea were awful - again - at the weekend. 0-0 at Bournemouth? Not good enough. Beaten at home by Forest? Nowhere near good enough. They were also beaten at West Ham remember. Their only win so far was 3-0 at home v Luton. That’s after a £1b spend in the last 12 months. Do you know, every time I mention that figure I draw breath. It’s incredible. What chance they go bankrupt before they get the chance to sack Pochettino I wonder? I’m only half serious - but you wouldn’t rule it out would you?

I know Poch didn’t sign - or probably want - any of the players that he’s been given, but that won’t wash if results don’t start coming. Results - and a few performances to excite Chelsea fans.

A big problem I think they’ve got is that I don’t see warriors in their group - solid citizens like JT, Lampard, Drogba, Essien, Cech. Chelsea have always had ‘winners’ in their best teams. I don’t see any now. I see a group of ‘nice’ lads. ‘Nice’ doesn’t win big games or trophies. That might also prove to be a problem for Eddie Howe. 

In Pochettino’s favour - I can’t see Chelsea wanting to change coaches again, but I refer you to my previous comment. We live in a brutally real world.

So that leaves ten Hag - a coach who has spent £400m on exactly what he wanted. It’s his team now. There can’t be anymore excuses. He can’t keep blaming his players for poor results and performances. He picks the team. He’s shaped the team. It’s on him now. 

How bad were they v Brighton? Awful is the answer. Brighton toyed with them. They had the ball for a full 1’46” before scoring their glorious 2nd goal. They were better than Utd all over the pitch. And this is a team that’s had £300m ripped out of it in sales over the last 12 months. Despite that - they keep getting better and they embarrassed Utd. 

It’s Bayern next - and then Burnley next Saturday evening for Utd. My guess is Bayern spank Utd - and I can’t believe I’m about to say this - but Burnley could beat them as well. If that happens ten Hag has to be the one to go. He couldn’t survive a week that included a defeat at home to Brighton, defeat in Europe and defeat to a team that hasn’t got a PL point yet.

I sense I’m no longer alone in asking questions about ten Hag. There was a slight shift in the coverage after the Brighton defeat. Oh - one other thing. I’m too far from home to have all the answers but what do we know about this Dutch football agency SEG? They seem to be at the heart of most deals Utd are doing right now. Nothing wrong with that - clubs often have a favourite agency, but they’re currently involved in so much you’d think someone at Utd had family working for them. 

With the odd exception it was another poor weekend for our officials. When is Howard Webb going to get a grip? Instead of keep admitting officials are making mistakes - how about helping them get better? This is the poorest group we’ve ever had. Now is certainly not the time to be holidaying in California Howard. Now is the time to be at home influencing things. 

If you’re a beINSPORTS viewer in MENA make a CL date with us this week. It’s great to have the competition back - in its current form for the last time remember. We’ve also got Europa and Conference League football as usual. As I often say - all the games, all the time, on the biggest sports network in the world.