We have reached that point in the season where it is safe to say the league is in full swing and we can actually take note of the league table. After a summer of transfer movement you never quite know how teams will fair, but we have already seen the main contenders for the league title head to the top of the table – no surprise then that the top 3 are Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea. It is at the bottom of the league that will make uneasy reading for some.
Some teams near the bottom have been unlucky, they have mainly come up against the top teams in the league, Bolton are a prime example of this. Bolton are a side people have been looking at and thinking ‘what has happened to them?’ after they carved a reputation as a solid Premier League side. They may have lost a few but they have lost to Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City – teams that will no doubt occupy top 6 positions.
But not every team has these excuses, we know that to stay in this league home form is of paramount importance and teams like Swansea, Fulham, Stoke City and Aston Villa are yet to lose at home, but a lot of the teams that will be in the bottom half of the league come the end of the season are already struggling at home and the fans are starting to turn. In my opinion three prime candidates for the sack following the start they have made this season are Wigan’s Roberto Martinez, Blackburn’s Steve Kean and Mick McCarthy at Wolves.
Wigan Athletic have been a club in trouble despite the belief most people seem to have for boss Roberto Martinez. After a poor season last term where Wigan occupied the bottom 3 for the majority of the season, it was hoped that summer signings would strengthen and galvanise this team, but it doesn’t look that way. The quality of the new arrivals have not been of the highest standard; Shaun Maloney and Albert Crusat haven’t even been starting, Crusat needs time to adjust but Maloney has been in the Premier League before and failed. Despite previous support for Martinez from Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, his patience must be wearing thin after Martinez came out and set survival as the club’s main target – hardly progression from last season. They have done okay against the sides that will be around them come the end of the season, but the most recent home defeat to Bolton shows they will be in for a rough ride. With their ‘easiest’ run of games coming up before a hard December, this will be a critical time for Martinez.
Blackburn are another side struggling and it just seems Steve Kean can do little right at the moment in the eyes of the supporters. The football at Blackburn hasn’t been pretty for a little while now, think back to when Sam Allardyce was in charge, no one liked the style of football the team was playing but at least they were picking up points…now Blackburn are considered one of the easiest teams to turn-over in the league. If you look at the squad there are names that stick out, but when you think who Steve Kean has signed with the money at his disposal, it is pretty poor from the rookie manager. Kean has had some support from the owners and also David Dunn, who has blasted the boo-boy fans, but the reality is Blackburn are in trouble. Things cannot go on much longer under Kean, he doesn’t seem to have the confidence of the fans or the dressing room and despite the Venky’s apparent lack of understanding when it comes to football, I don’t think it will be too much longer until they realise Steve Kean isn’t the man for the job and we watch him fade in to football obscurity. Blackburn have a tough next 4 games, the end of Steve Kean maybe closer than we think.
Mick McCarthy is a man of many words, half of them we don’t understand, but he is a likable character. Remember though, nice guys come and last and time could be running out for Mick. His Wolves side have had a very shaky start to the season and nothing much seems to have changed from the end of last term where they managed to stay up by the skin of their teeth. I look at the Wolves squad and it has a lot of talent, but if they take a couple of injuries to key personnel the team struggles as the depth isn’t quite there. More importantly, things seem to have taken a turn to negative town and there is no doubt Mick is feeling the strain; he has already blown up this season about his players tweeting and the latest discontent is over West Brom’s Paul Scharner revealing a t-shirt to his own fans of a West Brom crest that his kids had drawn. After the game Roy Hodgson came out in support of Mick saying he “can’t imagine for a minute Wolves would want to sack Mick, he’s done a traffic job” but I beg to differ. Is last minute survival really good enough or is it time to expect some real progress after investment in the squad? For me progress has to be made, rather than just making up the numbers. I like Mick but I think he has honestly taken Wolves as far as he can despite some encouraging performances. Must-win home game against Swansea next.
I could have mentioned other managers who could be in the running to pick up their p45 shortly, like Steve Bruce, David Moyes or Owen Coyle but the reality is the quality is there, they have just been unlucky. This is a long season and it can all turn-around with a couple of wins, but one thing is for certain, the next couple of months will be interesting.
Let us know your thoughts on who may be edging closer to the p45, get your bets on and let’s see whose right!