Nothing trumps winning the Premier League in English football, and yet, arguably the most exciting scrap occurs 17 places down from the top. Each year, the relegation battle showcases precisely why the league is so interesting, with new managers jumping in and out of the hot seats and no-hope clubs grabbing points in the final minutes.
For the most part, if a team is set to finish in the bottom half of the table, they’ll be a part of the relegation battle. So, even a short run of bad results can get the manager in hot water, with clubs not showing any mercy, even if the boss brought them to the league just a few months ago.
So, which managers look to be in for a tough time in the 2021/22 campaign?
A shiny new list of candidates battling against relegation
A new season means, at the very least, three new managers entering the league from the Championship. The headline-grabbing managerial change this season, however, was Patrick Vieira, who joined Crystal Palace. Now, the Eagles have been known to do away with big-name bosses, as they did in 2017 with Frank de Boer after five games, so even someone as prestigious as Vieira isn’t exempt from an unceremonious sacking.
Coming into the season, six teams are clearly in the running for the three relegation spots. As detailed here at Space Casino, Norwich (10/11), Watford (1/1), Brentford (11/10), Crystal Palace (7/4), Burnley (9/4), and Newcastle United (11/4) are all very much in the relegation mix, which means that the managers are already fighting to keep their jobs.
However, just because a team is destined for the drop doesn’t necessarily mean that the boss will get the boot. Some clubs stick by their manager as the core part of their project. On the other hand, managers doing seemingly well for the players at their disposal can see the higher-ups opt for a quick-fix switch to spur some momentum. Still, aside from a tumbling giant, it’s the relegation battle that usually sees the most dismissals.
In the hot seats from the first kick-off
Even though they won the Championship in style, Norwich City are pegged as the most likely to get relegated. This would seemingly put Daniel Farke as the most likely to get sacked, but that hasn’t proved to be the case in the past. The German brought Norwich to the Premier League, but they only lasted one season and went straight back down in the 2019-20. However, Farke kept his job. The Canaries clearly see a lot of value in keeping Farke and his exciting style of play.
Next in line is a position that will almost certainly change hands if the club sits around the relegation zone for too long. Since December 2013, after the departure of Gianfranco Zola, Watford have had 13 different managers take charge of at least two games. In recent seasons, December has been the Hornets’ cut-off point.
So, even though Xisco Muñoz says he’s ready for the top-flight, he’ll need to be clear of the drop by around 15 games into the season to keep his job. This may also be the case for Vieira in his new role, but the other managers may have a bit more leeway. Thomas Frank will seemingly be given the same virtue at Brentford as Farke has at Norwich, Sean Dyche seems all-but immune to getting sacked at Burnley, and Steve Bruce always seems to snatch a result just as the firing rumours start to bubble.
While Xisco and Vieira look to be the more likely managers fighting against relegation to be shown the door, both clubs have enough quality to keep them in their jobs. One thing is a near certainty, though: a manager in the bottom half of the table will get sacked this season.