As the players continue their pre-season preparations, it’s time for another piece of Championship content from me. The focus, for this one, will again be on managers, but this time we will be looking at how long they will last for. It’s worth remembering that this is a largely opinion based article. In other words, I don’t have any kind of inside information to suggest that these managers will not be given time.
In terms of the selections, it is largely based on either the fact that the club are currently in decline – or expectations are just very high with that team. I normally pride myself on not writing articles with a big club bias. However, coincidentally, this particular article tends to focus on some of the bigger clubs in the league. Nevertheless, that is more down to accident than design.
So, now we have all that out the way, let’s get stuck into my choices...
1. Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves)
As mentioned, there are several big clubs that are set to struggle in the league this season. Wolves are one of those clubs that I have suggested are in for a grim time this season. What’s interesting about this is several other people seem to be picking them to have a good season. Therefore, I’m prepared that I may have egg on my face over this one.
Looking back at them last season, I thought that Paul Lambert did an excellent job at steadying the ship after a poor start. Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to continue that process over the course of the summer. Instead, Nuno Espirito Santo has been appointed and he does have a good reputation in the game. Most notably, with Valencia and Porto – where he has managed a win ratio of over 50%.
Let’s be clear, I’m not saying that Santo is a bad manager. In fact, in the Premier League, he could do rather well. The issues here for me are the fact that he doesn’t know the league and expectations at Wolves will be high, especially after a high transfer investment during this summer. There are various complications for Santo, and that will lead to a settling in period. Simply put, I see him being sacked before 2017 is out.
2. Thomas Christiansen (Leeds United)
Leeds United had a great season, in the league, last season. I don’t think many people expected them to put together the sort of play-off challenge that they did. However, I put a lot of that success down to Garry Monk who has since moved on to become the new manager of Middlesbrough. I haven’t included Leeds in any official prediction piece so far, but I’m expecting a season of mid-table obscurity for them.
Reading between the lines of certain things, it doesn’t look as though that would be an acceptable situation for the club. It really does look like they are hoping to build on the things that they accomplished last season. Therefore, falling well behind the play-off zone is not likely to be an acceptable position for the club – especially after recently securing the re-purchase of ground Elland Road.
It wasn’t a massive surprise when an agreement was not met with Monk as the situation was getting dragged out a fair bit. The man that they have turned to as his replacement is Thomas Christiansen and in my view, it’s a massive gamble. Christiansen is 44 years old and certainly learning all the time – but he is going from football in Cyprus to the Championship. For me, that will be a massive cultural shock and he won’t be Leeds United manager at the start of 2018.
3. Leonid Slutsky (Hull City)
Hull City are a curious club that looked to be in excellent hands when Steve Bruce was the manager. After Bruce left though, everything seemed to go into chaos at the club. Relegation from the Premier League looked like a certainty. However, Marco Silva came in, late in the day to give Hull that glimmer of hope.
Silva has since gone on to become the new Watford manager and we are yet to see if the Tigers have struck gold again with the appointment of Leonid Slutsky. The 46-year-old Russian coach certainly has a compelling reputation within his own country. Again, this is not to say that Slutsky is not a good coach or it will definitely be a bad appointment.
However, it comes down to similar things again about the knowledge of various European leagues and of course the Championship. While other foreign coaches have done well in the league, I’m just not convinced going from the Russian national team to the Championship is the answer. So again, I must pick him out as a coach that will be looking for a new job come the start of 2018.
4. Mark Warburton (Nottingham Forest)
Nottingham Forest may have a reputation as one of the great teams of England and Europe, but that was a long time ago – and the situation for them now is quite different. It wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about Forest as a League One team. They may well have got themselves back to the Championship now – but they continue to struggle near the foot of the table.
In fact, last season the club only managed to avoid relegation to League One on goal difference. Mark Warburton is the manager that they have turned to, which they hope will start to change things for them. However, key players are likely to continue to leave and it doesn’t appear that things get any easier for Forest as each season goes by.
Warburton has done a decent job, in the past, at this level with Brentford and received a lot of credit for the job he did at Rangers. So, with that experience, it doesn’t sound like a bad appointment on paper. However, football is not played on paper and the pressures that will come with the job may mean this simply doesn’t work out. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Warburton dismissed and Forest near the bottom of the Championship cometheend of December.
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5. Ian Holloway (QPR)
QPR are a very odd club and a good example of the dangers that come with spending too much to try and stay in the Premier League. At times, the club have spent recklessly but have had rich owners behind the scenes to pick up the pieces. Although QPR have survived financially through all of this – they are now in a position with virtually zero spending power.
It will certainly be interesting to know what the expectations are for the West London club in the coming season. Clearly, that kind of information would have a vital part to play in the potential future of manager Ian Holloway. Honestly though, it was a very strange appointment at the time and perhaps represents the dire time that the club are facing from a financial viewpoint.
Given all the information we know of the club, it’s expected that it will be another season near the foot of the Championship table for them. Ian Holloway certainly has had good periods in his career – but it’s now some time ago since Blackpool were entertaining everyone in the Premier League. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised to see QPR making a managerial change in time for the start of 2018.
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6. Simon Grayson (Sunderland)
Sunderland may well have the highest average attendance in the Championship next season – but I’m not sure how much more they will have to celebrate. The club have been on the decline for some time now – and relegation from the Premier League has been a long time coming. Getting back to the EPL at the first time of asking is a very difficult task – and teams on the decline aren’t usually able to manage it straight away.
I found Simon Grayson to be an interesting appointment for them this summer. First of all, I’m not sure he was Sunderland’s first choice and it took a long time to happen. This has meant that the club are on the backfoot in the transfer market already. Grayson did a decent job at Preston, but he isn’t the sort of appointment that makes you think that promotion is guaranteed.
Irrespective of the actual situation at Sunderland, it’s quite clear that expectations will be there to win the league. Grayson had a relaxed situation at Preston – but pressure does funny things to people and he may well be making some silly mistakes. All in all, I would fully expect the Black Cats to panic at Christmas time by sacking Grayson.
This completes the end of the content section for this article looking the managers that are likely to be sacked in the Championship, If you enjoyed this, then please also check out my sister piece on the best managers in the Championship this season.
Of course, there will be plenty more to come from me to build up to the new season. Next, I will be turning my hand to a couple of predictive pieces on things that you can look out for on the opening weekend of the new season.