England EPL General Opinion

Summer of the Sack as Premier League clubs prepare to wield the axe

This Sunday will draw to a close the latest Premier League season and with it mark the last game in charge for some of its managers. Watford have already announced the Italian boss Walter Mazzari will depart his position in the summer after failing to impress the clubs demanding owners, the Pozzo family. To be fair, the writing has been on the wall for the former Napoli and Inter manager for some time now after some poor results. His tactical mismanagement in certain games and apparent lack of interest in learning English left him floundering in a league where managers are treated by the media as rock stars and expected to be the next messiah. Mazzari unfortunately was neither charismatic nor inspiring and as a direct result dampened any enthusiasm surrounding Watford from day one.

Confirmed - Mazzari will leave Watford at the end of the season (Image from Tumblr)
Confirmed – Mazzari will leave Watford at the end of the season (Image from Tumblr)

Hot favourite to replace Mazzari at Watford is Marco Silva, the unknown manager parachuted into Hull mid season to rescue them from impending relegation. The critics scoffed at the appointment stating that the job should have gone to someone with Premier League experience like Nigel Pearson or Ryan Giggs (seriously they did) but Silva pushed through and quickly won them over by “transforming” Hull into a team who could actually compete on the pitch with cup wins over Swansea and Manchester United in the FA Cup and League Cup respectively within his first 30 days. However he couldn’t quite replicate that form enough in the league managing only 6 wins and 3 draws over the next 17 games leading up to this Sunday’s clash with Tottenham. Hull’s relegation has been confirmed but despite this Silva has gained what a lot of managers crave – a positive Premier League reputation and will now have the pick of a few jobs on offer.

The Chosen One - Marco Silva is wanted by several clubs (Image from Tumblr)
The Chosen One – Marco Silva is wanted by several clubs (Image from Tumblr)

Watford may be in the driving seat now but they could easily be pushed to the hard shoulder by West Ham if they decide to end Slaven Bilic’s time in charge. The former Croatia manager has endured a less than exciting second season as Hammers boss and could be given his marching orders after the clash with Burnley on Sunday. Despite finishing an impressive seventh last season and collecting the clubs highest points total (62) along the way, Bilic’s team has often looked rudderless this year much to his obvious frustration. You can point to a variety of factors including a stadium move that has proven more troublesome than beneficial, the departure of their star player Dimitri Payet after a much lengthy wrangle and the failure of some of his key summer signings to integrate into Bilics preferred tactical style but ultimately not all is right with West Ham. There is something underlying at the London Stadium (and its not the ancient curse that Simon Jordan said was haunting West Ham for moving there). Perhaps its the elevated visions of grandeur that the owners have after last years successes or the inability to play in a stadium that lacks atmosphere (take note spurs who look forward to the same at Wembley next season). Either way things don’t look promising for Bilic,

Bilic shares a moment with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in one of his happier moments in charge of West Ham this season (image from Tumblr)
Bilic shares a moment with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp in one of his happier moments in charge of West Ham this season (image from Tumblr)

Also on borrowed time is Claude Puel at Southampton who like Bilic is suffering from bloated expectations from above. Having finished sixth under Ronald Koeman last season, Puel was hired on the basis that he would build upon this and continue the clubs upward trajectory. Things haven’t quite turned out that way despite what some would consider a half decent season – likely an 8th placed finish and an a League cup final appearance where they pushed Manchester United all the way in a thrilling game. Despite this, Puel looks like he may be relieved of his duties after only one season in favour of a fresh pair of eyes. If he is it will be a disappointing decision as a majority of Southampton’s misgivings this year were set in motion before he started at the end of June 2016. The sale of Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane weeks before he arrived and Graziano Pelle just twelve days after he started ripped the core nucleus of the team that had been so successful the season before. Puel’s side never recovered and the results on the pitch have reflected this – more defeats than wins, just over a quarter of all PL games drawn, higher goals conceded than scored  all paints a bad picture for the French coach.

 

Puel was caught off guard by the ball and by life in the Premier League it would seem (Image from Tumblr)
Puel was caught off guard by the ball and by life in the Premier League it would seem (Image from Tumblr)

There are also question marks over the futures of Middlesbrough’s caretaker boss Steve Agnew who is unlikely to get the post full time after their relegation, Stoke’s Mark Hughes who has overseen the decline of the Potters this year with a 14th place finish their lowest since the 2011-2012 season and Arsene Wenger who despite a spirited end of season revival which has given Arsenal a fighting chance of a Champions League spot is still under pressure to leave from a large cross section of the Gunners faithful. There are even some calling for Jose Mourinho to go after a dismal 6th placed finish but a League Cup win and a Europa League final appearance against Ajax which should end in them lifting that trophy too should ensure the Special One gets another bite at the cherry at United.

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