Premier League Hotseat: Who’s Safe? Who’s Next?

The time of year where clubs either commit to their manager or bring in a new face to help them achieve expectations set out at the beginning of the season is quickly approaching. Whether it’s avoiding relegation or getting into the top four, no manager wants to fall short in today's merciless game.

With Pochettino, Pellegrini, Flores, Gracia, and Emery already axed, the question begs to be asked – Who’s safe? Who’s next?

Ole Gunnar Solskjær

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Manchester United’s inconsistency with Ole at the wheel is dividing many supporters on whether he should be given more time or get the sack. There are fair arguments on both sides.

On one hand, if someone who wasn’t a former player applied to be United manager with the same CV as Ole, there is no way they would get the job. Many fans have had enough of the nostalgia trip and don’t see their club playing with any identity.

On the other hand, Frank Lampard and Mikel Arteta don’t have much managerial experience and they’re in charge of big rival clubs. He’s got a young team with significant injuries and they’re in 5th. With Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, and Leicester faltering, finishing in the top four is very achievable.

Whether you’re Ole in or Ole out, there should be unanimous agreement about one thing – the system is broken. Frankly, there is no one qualified at United to make the decision that Ole should be sacked. There is an old adage,

“Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

It didn’t work with Moyes, van Gaal, and Mourinho and the common denominator in all these failures is Ed Woodward. It feels as though Ole might be safe because Woodward does not want to be responsible for another failure. The problems at United run deeper than Ole.

Verdict – Safe.

Eddie Howe

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For everything great that Eddie Howe has done for Bouremouth in the past (which is no small feat, by the way), criticism is long overdue with the club headed towards relegation. Since beating Manchester United on Matchweek 11, they’ve only won two games. Howe’s grip on keeping the Cherries in the Premier League is slowly slipping away. Inexplicably splashing the cash on young Liverpool rejects, like Jordan Ibe and Dominic Solanke, is finally bearing fruit as Howe’s squad is showing many weaknesses.

Their schedule in April and May is among the most difficult in the league and if they want to stay up, they’ll have to pick up points now. Injuries threw them into a poor run of form and they might struggle to recover. Ake has recently returned to the starting XI but they’re still missing key players in Charlie Daniels and Joshua King.

They’re currently in the relegation zone and their schedule doesn’t get any easier. The offence is lacking and the board may have to act soon to inspire the squad to stay up. Going down could spell disaster with their best players likely to leave. It may even be good for Howe – he’s done well to keep Bournemouth up this long and he might find more success in a club with more financial backing.

Verdict – Sacked.

Dean Smith

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Could it be time Aston Villa take a page out of Chelsea’s book and appoint John Terry as manager, on an interim basis anyway? Their net spend falls just short of £140M and the results aren’t matching the investment gone into the squad. Villa simply can’t afford to go down after all they’ve spent and it doesn’t look like Smith has got the bottle to keep it all together.

However, they have a good chance of going to the EFL Cup Final. After drawing 1-1 against Leicester and securing a crucial away goal, failing to go through would be seen as a massively missed opportunity to turn their season's fortunes around. It’s just the kind of occasion to spur confidence and ambition in the squad. Barring any miracles from United, they’ll come up against Manchester City and lose, but either way, it should inspire them to accomplish more. That being said, miracles are possible. They could go on and win the bloody thing – imagine what that would do for confidence.

The question remains – is Smith the man to carry them through this crucial period? It feels unlikely. If they haven’t figured it out already, they probably never will.

Verdict – Sacked

Honourable Mentions

Burnley have looked abysmal and Sean Dyche’s stint in the Premier League is growing tiresome. Their rugby-esque tactics would be a welcome departure but the board seems to be attached to his style. Dyche should be out the door but if the Clarets stay up, he’ll probably get another year.

Brighton and Hove Albion are only two points above the relegation zone at the time of writing and don’t look any better than what Chris Hughton had to offer. With Graham Potter under contract until 2025, it seems unlikely…but if they slip into the relegation zone, things could get messy.