It’s hard to envy the Premier League manager, in a league with such perverse ideas of success that fourth is an accomplishment life must go by in a strange blur.
A lifelong dedication, years of hard-won experience and meticulous planning can count for nothing when you are at the whim of a chairman who wants to win trophies before they are even handed out.
Without warning, games can take on extra significance, it will have the added metaphysical properties of being a ‘must-win’ game, win this and you’re golden.
For a week.
Lose and you’ll be unemployed before Jamie Redknapp can get the second ‘top’ of ‘top,top’ out describing the opposition’s offside trap.
And that’s the dignified way to go.
If the fans decide you are under qualified, you could turn up to work one day to find 40,000 people singing for you to lose your job.
Here you’ll have to put on a brave face and hope to change the opinion of thousands who feel they know more about your job than their own.
Your 4-5-1 will be a decision so stupid it is absurd, while they rally round the message boards wishing for some foreign manager, his 4-5-1 is different, he’s got way more tactics than you.
So don’t get too comfortable in your over-sized track jacket, it’s time to take a look at the manager most likely to be in the Sky studio for Monday night football come the end of September.
Steve Kean – Blackburn Rovers 11/4
This has all the makings of an early season sacking; barely escaped relegation, overambitious owners and a squad full of cumbersome also-rans.
Sam Allardyce was ousted by the Venkys suddenly last year and despite ambitious chatter from the owners about European football Kean has hung onto the position since.
To say Kean’s future is uncertain would be an understatement, barring a miracle he will be gone by Christmas.
Neil Warnock – QPR 4/1
Since being taken over by Formula 1 tycoons Bernie Ecclestone and Slavio Briatore in August 2007, QPR have had ten different managers – roughly two and a half a year.
Warnock’s been there for almost 17 months so mathematically speaking he’s great value at 4/1 to be the first to get the chop but he seems to fit the bill for the unpredictable owners for now at least.
That said, despite the multi-millionaire owners’ ambitions to stabilise QPR in the top-flight, Warnock was given little money to strengthen for the step up suggesting that he’s on probation for the time being.
Alan Pardew – Newcastle United 5/1
To put it mildly Mike Ashley may not be the most, let’s say, forward thinking owner in the Premier League; the appointment of Alan Shearer, the sacking of Chris Hughton, the appointment of Alan Shearer, the sale of Andy Carroll, the appointment of Alan Shearer – Alan Shearer!
Without Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan, and likely Joey Barton and José Enrique too, Pardew is going to find it tough going – especially since he plays a brand of football best described as consistent.
The Newcastle faithful aren’t backward about being forward and though unlikely to be serious candidates for relegation, if Pardew doesn’t do things the ‘right’ way he could find himself under pressure from the fans and Ashley has been misguided by pleasing the fans before.
Steve Bruce – Sunderland 12/1
Sunderland invested heavily this summer, bringing in John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Conor Wickham, Craig Gardner and for some reason, Sebastien Larsson.
This should help Bruce shore up some of the desperate play which saw them go on a long run of losses after Christmas but it also puts the added pressure on Bruce to deliver, something with which he has proved uncomfortable with so far in his managerial career.
Bruce is unlikely to win as many games as he loses and after two years on the Tyne Niall Quinn may finally run out of patience with him.
Harry Redknapp – Tottenham Hotspur 16/1
Despite having a squad full of ‘top,top’ and ‘t’riffic’ players last season Spurs looked decidedly shaky.
An enjoyable run in the Champions League disguised their poor league displays and inability of their strikers to find the net consistently, a similar season is unlikely to be tolerated by chairman Daniel Levy.
Redknapp’s relationship with the media allows him to put a positive spin on things for the most part but since the Modric saga there appears to be a gap in communication between the manager and chairman.
Mick McCarthy – Wolves 16/1
Big Mick recently celebrated his fifth anniversary at Wanderers but they came perilously close to relegation last year and unless his season gets off to a good start he could find himself on the chopping block.
Roberto Mancini – Manchester City 18/1
Success is so seductive at Eastlands that a couple of bad results and Mancini could be shown the door as the Sheiks are certain not to tolerate anything less than a proper tilt at the title, surprised he’s not gone after the Community Shield to be honest.
No manager 100/1
Times are tight and the cost of resourcing a new manager is always high so maybe the owners and fans will just be happy with their lot for the year, 100/1 seems a bit short though doesn’t it?