Talking about Premier League managers getting sacked even before the season starts feels a bit cruel.
It is the harsh reality of the job, though, and it’s likely that one or more managers currently in charge of Premier League teams will be out of a job by Christmas. And let’s face it, these guys will get a nice payoff if they’re handed their P45, too.
The five managers below aren’t exactly teetering on the brink just yet – one was only recently appointed – but they’re far from secure.
A bad start or a couple of shock results could see the pressure build, and Premier League boards will not hesitate to find someone else, particularly with the money at stake.
Despite leading Aston Villa back to the promised land, it’s easy to see Dean Smith getting into trouble in his first Premier League season.
Expectations are sky high – perhaps unreasonably so – at Villa Park, and they need to get early points under their belt.
Home matches with Bournemouth and Everton before a trip to Selhurst Park are a relatively kind start following an opening day trip to Tottenham.
With plenty of new acquisitions, though, a period of adaptation will see Smith quickly come under pressure, and the schedule soon turns against them.
Starting at the end of October, Villa play Manchester City, Liverpool, Wolves, Chelsea and Manchester United over a six-match period. Go into that spell in poor form and Villa may well be in the bottom three in mid-December.
Only appointed a few weeks ago, Steve Bruce has been backed in the transfer market early on with the Magpies splashing a club-record fee on Brazilian forward Joelinton and rumours aplenty that Mike Ashley will continue to spend.
Rafa Benitez worked his magic to get Newcastle into mid-table last season. Bruce might have more reinforcements coming, but is he capable of what Benitez is with this squad? Only time will tell.
Starting at home to Arsenal on 11th August, Newcastle have a less than favourable first few matches.
A trip to newly promoted Norwich won’t be easy, then they face Spurs, Watford and Liverpool. Picking up at least four points from Norwich and Watford is crucial for Bruce.
Find all the latest odds on Premier League games at 888sport, where Newcastle are 3/1 to beat Arsenal.
The prospect of Everton sacking Marco Silva, who they controversially pursued while he was Watford manager, seems a bit strange. After a so-so, 2018/19, though, Silva needs to take the next step this term and the ‘best of the rest’ is a competitive mini-league.
Wolves, Leicester, West Ham and Watford will all be harbouring ambitions of a seventh-placed finish, and perhaps better depending on what happens with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.
Everton have added Fabian Delph, and have been linked heavily with Wilfried Zaha in recent days, but a top seven finish still seems like a big ask.
One thing in Silva’s favour, perhaps, is that they don’t face a top six side in their first six matches. There’s opportunity for a good start, with their two toughest fixtures, Wolves and Watford, both being played at Goodison.
While early points won’t be enough for Silva to keep his job all season, it gives him a head start in the sack race.
The Marko Arnautovic circus has left the London Stadium. Pedro Obiang, Sam Byram and Lucas Perez have followed the Austrian out of the club as Manuel Pellegrini rejigs his squad for another top half push.
The Hammers have impressed early on in the transfer market, landing Sebastien Haller and Pablo Fornals, but as Fulham reminded us last year, winning the summer window is meaningless.
Going forward, West Ham have options aplenty – Fornals and Haller are two of the most exciting signings of the summer. The rest of the team has more question marks.
Pellegrini’s sides play open, attacking football, and it’ll be a question of if they can get the balance of the team right. After splashing big money, the Hammers will be hoping for an improvement on last season’s 10th.
Like Everton, though, it won’t be easy with Leicester and Wolves both set to improve further. As always, West Ham are a team to look out for in our Premier League betting tips, this is yet another unpredictable season for The Irons.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Manchester United’s summer, after all the talk at the end of last season, has been much like others in the recent past. Rumours have been plentiful, but actual action has been limited.
The Harry Maguire chase continues to fill back pages, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad is still bloated. The lack of departures as much as the shortage of arrivals is a worry for United.
Solskjaer’s initial surge as United boss, and his status as an iconic player, give him some credit. After taking 11 points from their final 10 Premier League matches last season, Solskjaer will quickly see that credit vanish if this season starts in a similar manner.
The opinion in the stands and boardroom at Old Trafford could turn if United struggle against Chelsea and Wolves in their first two matches.
It’s hard to see Solskjaer going that quickly, but if other managers hold onto their jobs, he could still win the sack race if United struggle through late-summer and autumn.