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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 August 2007, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
The sack race
By Saj Chowdhury

Not many would have backed Iain Dowie to become the first Premier League managerial casualty of last season.

Sam Allardyce
Will "Big Sam" be the first to go?

His move "north" from Crystal Palace to Charlton proved as profitable as the bets on Tiger Woods to win this year's Open.

He was replaced by assistant Les Reed, who managed to last 41 days before Alan Pardew took over after being sacked by West Ham.

Other clubs waited until towards the end of the season to part company with their managers - Newcastle said goodbye to Glenn Roeder, Stuart Pearce left Manchester City while Chris Coleman was sacked by Fulham.

So who will be the first to face the chop this season?

ARSENE WENGER - Arsenal

Arsene Wenger

Losing Thierry Henry must have been like losing his right arm, but Wenger has this uncanny habit of developing... er... new right arms - think Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie.

The French professor could have left for the Continent this summer but I reckon he has one final trick up his sleeve.

Verdict: Will go out with a bang.

Sack Rating: 1/10

MARTIN O'NEILL - Aston Villa

Martin O'Neill

His first season was far from spectacular, but there were promising signs towards the latter half of the campaign.

A little worry is that O'Neill has not used much of multi-millionaire Randy Lerner's cash, and with most other ambitious sides spending money like it was going out of fashion, it may be a testing season for the manager.

Verdict: A tough season awaits but it's unlikely O'Neill will be shown the exit.

Sack Rating: 4/10

STEVE BRUCE - Birmingham

Steve Bruce

Bruce has been the busiest in the transfer market of all the managers bringing their teams into the Premier League, securing the experience of Olivier Kapo as well as promising Scotland striker Garry O'Connor.

Has he bought well? Depends how quickly O'Connor gets out of the traps and whether he can strike a good partnership with the recuperated Mikael Forssell.

An inexperienced defence is a slight problem but the club cannot blame Bruce if Blues start leaking goals.

Verdict: Bruce will be given every chance to prove himself again at Premiership level.

Sack Rating: 3/10

MARK HUGHES - Blackburn

Mark Hughes

Without going crazy in the transfer market, Hughes has built a fairly strong Blackburn squad in the last two seasons.

Rovers will not pierce through the top-four barrier but the fans will be satisfied with Hughes' leadership both on the domestic and European front.

Verdict: Another good season may see Hughes courted by bigger clubs.

Sack Rating: 2/10

SAMMY LEE - Bolton

Sammy Lee

It will be difficult to repeat what Sam Allardyce achieved, but the diminutive Sammy Lee will undoubtedly give it his best.

Will it be enough? Probably not.

Verdict: The leap from tracksuit coach to tracksuit manager will be too great. Could be the first to go.

Sack Rating: 6/10

JOSE MOURINHO - Chelsea

Jose Mourinho

Is Mourinho speaking to his employers? Who knows. It seems there will be the usual media speculation over the future of the "Chosen One" at Stamford Bridge.

He will be under great pressure to win back the Premiership and land the Champions League, but the new arsenal of Florent Malouda and Claudio Pizarro may help him out of a tight spot.

Verdict: Mourinho's side will again be very hard to beat but how long will he be able to cope with the scrutiny over his future?

Sack Rating: 4/10

BILLY DAVIES - Derby

Billy Davies

Billy Davies is more than aware his club are not awash with cash.

He will keep his job because, frankly, not many others will be able to do a better job with the current squad.

Verdict: A tricky season for Davies but he may just rise to the challenge.

Sack Rating: 3/10

DAVID MOYES - Everton

David Moyes

With Everton seemingly saving their pennies for the new stadium, David Moyes has been left to scrape together what's left in the piggy bank for players.

Finishing sixth last season was an impressive achievement, and if "Moyesie" can replicate anything near that then he should be awarded the freedom of Merseyside - the blue part.

Verdict: It will be a tough season for the Scot, but no alarm bells.

Sack Rating: 4/10

LAWRIE SANCHEZ - Fulham

Lawrie Sanchez

Sanchez did just about enough to prevent Fulham from falling into the Championship hole. He was then promised money by owner Mohamed Al Fayed to rebuild the squad for the new season.

The Harrods boss has kept his promise, so now Sanchez will have to deliver.

It has been a while since Al Fayed was so cavalier with his funds so he will expect results.

Verdict: Sanchez proved successful at international level, but the Premiership will be a more intense challenge.

Sack Rating: 6/10

RAFAEL BENITEZ - Liverpool

Rafa Benitez

Good old goatee-wearing Rafa has changed his own appearance and the look of his team.

Their uber-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks are a generous pair and Benitez has taken full advantage and then some.

They will be seen as Manchester United's closest challengers - so will the Spaniard lead the Reds to the title? It's worth a punt.

Verdict: He's got the squad and may finally deliver in the Premiership.

Sack Rating: 2/10

SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON - Manchester City

Sven-Goran Eriksson

He's back. The cool Swede who took England to glory in...oh hang on... anyway, his club record is pretty formidable.

Eriksson's had success at Gothenburg, Benfica, Sampdoria and Lazio, where he helped the Rome side to the league title.

His City side do not have household names, but the signings of winger Elano, Martin Petrov and Rolando Bianchi should provide the spark to help Eriksson get off to a good start in his new job

Verdict: City will get at least a season of those Eriksson idiosyncrasies.

Sack Rating: 3/10

SIR ALEX FERGUSON - Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson

Ferguson beat Chelsea to the title, which is a far bigger achievement than just winning the title.

The addition of Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson has brought the Scot's first team almost on a par with Chelsea's.

But as veteran comedian Frank Carson may say, "It's the way he moulds them."

Verdict: Anything less than two trophies would be a failure, although he won't be sacked for winning just one.

Sack Rating: 1/10

GARETH SOUTHGATE - Middlesbrough

Gareth Southgate

Completing a permanent deal for Jonathan Woodgate is a huge bonus for Southgate, who does not have a squad to be challenging for Europe.

In fact it's likely his side will be dragged into a bit of a struggle at the other end - if Tuncay Sanli proves to be an adequate replacement for Mark Viduka then they may avoid that scenario.

Verdict: Another tricky year but Boro will stick with Southgate if things get tough.

Sack Rating: 5/10

SAM ALLARDYCE - Newcastle

Sam Allardyce

"Big Sam's" summer plans have not gone as smoothly as he had hoped for.

The Michael Owen issue has been resolved, for now, but new owner Mike Ashley has not been as forthcoming with the 'readies' as both Allardyce and the fans had hoped for.

If the manager avoids the injury crisis that blighted Glenn Roeder then it should be a successful season for the Magpies - but that's a big if.

Verdict: Newcastle fans will not want another mediocre season so the pressure will be on Allardyce.

Sack Rating: 5/10

HARRY REDKNAPP - Portsmouth

Harry Redknapp

Harry Redknapp loves signing players and he has not bucked the trend in the close season.

David Nugent and Sulley Muntari are the pick of the buys and it is likely Redknapp will once again enjoy a comfortable season with the South Coast club.

Verdict: Harry's transformed the club so there's unlikely to be any P45 chat.

Sack Rating: 3/10

STEVE COPPELL - Reading

Steve Coppell
Reading are certainly not cash rich and it will be interesting to see whether their lack of movement in the transfer market affects a side that fought so valiantly last season under the leadership of Coppell.

Coppell said he was happy for the Royals to retain their Premiership status - he will probably be happier if they did so again after the next campaign.

Verdict: Coppell has done a great job so far so his job is secure.

Sack Rating: 4/10

ROY KEANE - Sunderland

Roy Keane

Keane had a remarkable debut season as manager when he guided Sunderland to the promised land.

Although the former Manchester United favourite has not made any big-name signings, the likes of Kieran Richardson and Michael Chopra may give his side the edge over other teams on their level.

Verdict: Keane's Premiership experience will be vital for the Black Cats.

Sack Rating: 3/10

MARTIN JOL - Tottenham

Martin Jol

Another seemingly bottomless money-pit side are Spurs.

Manager Jol's company credit card appears not to have reached its limit with Darren Bent, Younes Kaboul and Gareth Bale all coming to White Hart Lane in multi-million pounds deals.

His teams do play exciting football, but will that be enough to break into the top four? I doubt it.

Verdict: Not many people inside and outside Spurs dislike the big man.

Sack Rating: 2/10

ALAN CURBISHLEY - West Ham

Alan Curbishley

Thanks largely to a young man called Carlos, "Curbs" kept the Hammers up on his return to management.

This season his Icelandic boss has realised that another season fighting against relegation needs to be avoided at all costs, and those costs happen to be financial.

The Hammers have spent a net sum of about 10m (not counting the undisclosed fees) and Curbishley has taken the gamble of bringing in Craig Bellamy who has had his share of ups and downs - to put it mildly.

Verdict: Curbishley has spent big and faces pressure to produce a team that can challenge at the top end of the table.

Sack Rating: 5/10

CHRIS HUTCHINGS - Wigan

Chris Hutchings

Wigan narrowly avoided relegation, but Paul Jewell said enough was enough.

Up stepped Hutchings who went on to make the error-prone defender Titus Bramble his first signing - not one to win over the fans.

The manager's survival may depend on how well star signing Jason Koumas performs in attack.

Verdict: Hutchings could be this season's Dowie.

Sack Rating: 7/10



SEE ALSO
Alan Hansen's column
08 Aug 07 |  Premier League
Transfers - August 2007
06 Aug 07 |  Gossip
The point of pre-season
08 Aug 07 |  Football
Lawro's Premier League guide
07 Aug 07 |  Premier League
Premier League's top 10
08 Aug 07 |  Premier League
Premier League's community goals
07 Aug 07 |  Premier League
Premier League ins and outs
31 Jul 07 |  Premier League
Summer transfer photos part three
06 Aug 07 |  Football
The sack race
14 Aug 06 |  Premier League
The sack race
08 Aug 05 |  Premier League
Premiership sack race
09 Aug 04 |  Premier League
Who's odds-on in the sack race?
01 Aug 03 |  Premier League
The Premiership sack race
13 Aug 02 |  Eng Prem
The Premiership sack race
13 Aug 01 |  Eng Prem
The sack race starts
14 Jul 00 |  Bradford City


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