Christmas, a time for giving and sacking

December 23, 2020 - 16:37
Roll up, roll up, step forward for the managerial merry go round.


THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE: Slaven Bilic was the first Premier League sacking of the season. AFP Photo

Paul Kennedy

Roll up, roll up, step forward for the managerial merry go round.

Well, it’s finally started, although a little later than I first anticipated. West Brom’s Slaven Bilic was the first casualty of the season, ironically after his team’s best result, a draw away from home against Manchester City. 

I like the Croatian, always have. Not just because he reminds me of The Kurgan from the 1986 cult movie classic, Highlander, but he just strikes me as a tough, no-nonsense manager and a pretty cool guy.

He has a law degree, is fluent in English, Italian and German and plays lead guitar in the rock band Rawbau.

But obviously, these are not the qualities needed to manage a Premier League football club. That said, I’m not exactly sure what West Brom’s bosses actually expected.

As a newly promoted side, they were always going to struggle in the top flight. But at the end of the day, this is a results business and Slav, as only I call him, bit the bullet.

Step up the one, the only, the saviour of sides under pressure, the man himself… drum roll please… Sam Allardyce.

Sticking with the 80’s movie/TV theme, Big Sam is like the A-team, only easier to locate. 

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him (he’ll be sat at home probably watching Sky Sports and demolishing a packet of Penguin chocolate biscuits)... maybe you can hire Sam Allardyce.

Big Sam didn’t get off to the best of starts, losing 3-0 against West Midlands rivals Aston Villa. He next faces a rampant Liverpool team at Anfield. It’s tough at the top (and bottom) Sam. 

So one down, who’s next for the high jump? 

I predict it will be Mikel Arteta. 

The Spaniard is having a very tough time of things managing Arsenal who are perilously close to the drop zone in the Premier League. 

I don't think Arsenal will get relegated. As poor as they’ve been and as disjointed as they look on the pitch, there are three teams (or more) who are far worse. 

But things are certainly not going well for Arteta. And I’m sorry, but I think the Emirates hierarchy only have themselves to blame.

His managerial record before joining the Gooners was a big fat zero. Sure, he had played second fiddle to a very good Pep Guardiola at City, but the Arsenal job was, and is, far too big for a first-time manager.

I think his time is up, but with Big Sam already spoken for, it begs the question who will take over at Arsenal.

I saw a meme the other day that suggested current PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel is taking English classes, so when the call comes and he is offered the job, he will be able to turn them down in a way everyone can understand.

They could look to the continent again in a search for a new coach, but as more and more countries refuse to allow travel to the COVID-19 ravaged British Isles, I think they need to search closer to home.

They need a manager with Premier League experience and I think I know who it might be, and I’ve no doubt you will think I’m mad for suggesting him. Brendan Rogers.  

“But why would he leave Leicester?” I hear you say. “Why would he quit a team in second place to join those currently sat in 15th?”

I’ll tell you why: money. Money and power. Current positioning aside, Arsenal are a much bigger club than Leicester. And that will turn Brendan on.

“But what about loyalty?” I can hear you cry. “Leicester have been good to him.”

Sure, but if you think there’s any loyalty in football these days you may as well be living in a cave. Just ask fans of Celtic. VNS