More heads roll off soc­cer field

CityPress - - Sport - ADAM ALEXAN­DER sport@city­

The man­age­rial merry-go-round has been swing­ing off its hinges this sea­son, with Rafael Ben­itez the lat­est in a long list of high­pro­file man­agers to lose their jobs just half­way through their cam­paigns.

Real Madrid are only four points off the top spot in La Liga and are still in con­tention for the Cham­pi­ons League, but he was un­able to win over the club’s fans fol­low­ing a 4-0 thrash­ing in El Cla­sico to archri­vals Barcelona.

The for­mer Liver­pool boss was dis­missed by Florentino Pérez af­ter just seven months in charge, and re­placed by Zine­dine Zi­dane.

The ma­jor Premier League ca­su­alty in the first half of the sea­son was José Mour­inho, whose sec­ond spell at Chelsea ended in dis­as­ter just seven months af­ter he guided them to the Premier League ti­tle.

Chelsea’s strug­gles in this cam­paign were as well doc­u­mented as they were un­prece­dented, mak­ing the in­evitable de­par­ture of the Por­tuguese tac­ti­cian un­sur­pris­ing.

Mour­inho wasn’t the first Premier­ship boss to lose his job, how­ever, with Oc­to­ber turn­ing out to be the most lethal month, start­ing with the res­ig­na­tion of Sun­der­land’s Dick Ad­vo­caat. The Dutch vet­eran took charge of the Black Cats last sea­son when they found them­selves strug­gling against rel­e­ga­tion, a fate he suc­cess­fully helped them avoid.

How­ever, with the club in trou­ble early in the new sea­son, Ad­vo­caat took the de­ci­sion to step down.

Bren­dan Rodgers was the next high-pro­file man­ager to lose his job, with Liver­pool way down in 10th place in the Premier League.

Tim Sher­wood only lasted 21 days more than Ad­vo­caat at Villa Park. The for­mer Spurs boss had man­aged to keep the club up and even guided them to the FA Cup fi­nal last term.

But Sher­wood was help­less to keep the Vil­lans out of the rel­e­ga­tion strug­gle this sea­son, and six con­sec­u­tive de­feats saw him out of the job by the end of Oc­to­ber.

Novem­ber passed with­out any ca­su­al­ties in Eng­land, but De­cem­ber saw changes at Swansea City, where man­ager Garry Monk had guided the Swans to an im­pres­sive eighth­place fin­ish the sea­son be­fore with a record points tally, but one win in his last 11 league matches saw the Welsh side lose their pa­tience.

With the body count at five in the Premier League, there re­mains one press­ing ques­tion: who’s next?

Manch­ester United’s un­der­pres­sure man­ager Louis van Gaal def­i­nitely springs to mind.

It would be a stretch to call United’s sea­son a fail­ure, but the style of foot­ball the Dutch coach has the Red Devils play­ing has not won him any fans and the sud­den avail­abil­ity of Mour­inho and Bay­ern Mu­nich coach Pep Guardi­ola at the end of the sea­son is sure to in­crease the pres­sure on Van Gaal.

Manuel Pel­le­grini also has some work to do if he wants to keep his job be­yond the end of the sea­son, with ru­mours that Guardi­ola is set to take over at Manch­ester City. –

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