WLB Season Preview 2020/21 | Premier League: Sack Race
A market that is always fun to delve into is the Sack Race, or the Next Premier League Manager To Leave, to label it more correctly in the modern betting world.
I’ve weighed up some of the contenders below and picked out a couple of selections for who could be shown the door first if all doesn’t go to plan in the opening months of the new season.
David Moyes (8/1 William Hill)
Although West Ham survived to live another day in the Premier League, it was yet another disappointing season for the Hammers in which they fell so far short of the expectations of their supporters.
Manuel Pellegrini was booted out just after Christmas with the team sitting just above the drop zone despite some heavy summer spending on the likes of Felipe Anderson and Sebastian Haller for combined fees of £81m. A more pragmatic style under David Moyes was not pretty to watch, especially as results were not at first forthcoming following Moyes’ claims in his first press conference that “It’s what I do: I win”.
An unlikely three points against London rivals Chelsea seemed to inspire the team however and the Hammers ended up losing just one of their final six matches to stumble across the safety line again.
Along with a lack of long-term appetite for having the Scotsman as manager from anyone in the club, there’s a couple of other reasons that I like the 8/1 price for Moyes to leave his post before any other top-flight manager – the first being the fixtures the Irons face in the opening months of the new season.
Perceived fixture difficulty is always something to factor into this market and West Ham probably have the most challenging run of any side early doors. The Hammers play six of last season’s top-eight in the first seven, including title favourites Liverpool and Manchester City, a daunting prospect for squad that is yet to strengthen in the transfer market at the time of writing, other than confirming the capture of Tomas Soucek.
There doesn’t seem like much of a desire for unpopular owners Messrs Gold and Sullivan to part with too much cash for new players this transfer window given the unsuccessful outlay in previous iterations and the impact on their other business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Star man Declan Rice’s almost inevitable departure could free up some funds for Moyes to freshen up the squad but the midfielder’s absence would leave a huge hole in the team and leave a vulnerable defence even more exposed.
West Ham have been consistently walking a financial tightrope since their move to the London Stadium and should their Premier League status look at significant risk a few months into the season, the owners may not have much of a choice but to take the relatively inexpensive decision to end the manager’s remaining one year deal early to stop the rot.
With a miserable 24% win record across 95 matches in Moyes’ current and prior two reigns as a Premier League boss alongside some pretty industrious football, a highly demanding fan base will be on his back early doors unless the players can rip up the form book and record some upsets against the Premier League’s elite.
Although the owners don’t exactly have a pristine record of listening to their fanbase, they may have no choice but to sack Moyes if their investments and the financial stability of the club is at too high of a risk of imploding so I’m happy to back the William Hill price given odds are as short as 11/2 elsewhere for the same selection.
Scott Parker (11/1 SkyBet)
Despite a tactical masterclass in the play-off final against Brentford, Scott Parker is yet to fully win over Fulham’s fanbase following a stuttering season.
With the squad that Parker had at his disposal, Whites supporters would have expected a top-two finish but ultimately, it’s scarcely important as long you do get there – and get there Fulham did.
The young coach learnt to manage games better as the season progressed but the step up to managing in the Premier League will be the toughest test of either his player or managerial career with the Cottagers favourites for an immediate return to the Championship.
There’s a steely determination from the manager and those above him at the club not to repeat the mistakes of their last foray into top level football when Fulham became the first promoted club to spend £100m on new players. Sure, they needed to bolster the squad, but some hefty deals blunted the character in the dressing room and the team went on to concede an eye-watering 81 goals across the season.
A more pragmatic approach is welcomed by all to bringing in the right singings in the right positions early in the window and the additions of Harrison Reed and the on-his-day talented Mario Lemina from Southampton are a starting point. Although Aleksandar Mitrovic should come close to his 11-goal haul from last time out in the Premier League, his discipline and that of the whole squad must improve if they are to stay competitive at this level (97 cards across the season was the second highest in the Championship).
Mitrovic aside, there’s a lack of top-flight quality and a centre-back to compliment Michael Hector is desperately needed if the Whites are avoid another embarrassing defensive showing against the big guns.
Fulham are notoriously poor travellers, winning the no more games on the road as Reading and Sheffield Wednesday in 2019-20 and losing 27 of their last 39 Premier League away matches, including 15 of their last 17 – a run I can’t see improving too much with trips to Leeds, Wolves, Leicester and Manchester City all to come before Christmas.
The reliance last season was on getting in front during games where the team then failed to lose in the 24 matches in which they scored first. That will occur a lot less against Premier League opponents and although the backroom noises are all in support of Parker, the 11/1 for him to be out of a job first looks better value than the 6/5 for the Cottagers to be relegated with the Khan family getting through three managers the last time their club found themselves in the big time.
Premier League 2020/21 – David Moyes to be the Next Premier League Manager To Leave (8/1 William Hill)
Premier League 2020/21 – Scott Parker to be the Next Premier League Manager To Leave (11/1 SkyBet)