With summer seemingly behind us, that can only mean one thing: the new Premier League season is upon us.
Fans of top flight clubs across the country are itching for the new campaign to get underway but with the optimism that most fans will be filled with comes the trepidation that others will feel ahead of another nine-month rollercoaster ride and even before a ball is kicked, some managers in the Premier League are already feeling the pressure.
From the moment the referee blows his whistle to signal the start of the 2013/2014 season on 17 August, the burden on those sat in the 20 Premier League hot-seats begins to pile on, with every performance and result scrutinised. And with that comes the inevitability that some managers will face the chop.
Such are the expectations of owners, that we are sure to see a fair few managers come under pressure before Christmas but exactly which managers are those likely to be?
It is difficult to predict exactly which teams will struggle this term but the betting in the Premier League Sack Race does give a pretty clear indication as to which gaffers could be in for a few sleepless nights.
Chief among those is Alan Pardew at Newcastle United, who saw his team struggle last season and is under pressure to hit the ground running and improve the fortunes of the side this time around.
Add to that the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football and most people would agree that if Newcastle struggle through the first 10 games, Pardew could find himself being shown the exit door at St James’ Park. That fact is certainly reflected in the Next Premier League Manager to be sacked betting, with Pardew a clear favourite to be the first boss out of work this season.
Another manager who might find himself under pressure early on is Martin Jol at Fulham. The Dutchman has done a good job so far at Craven Cottage but with new owners now in place, there will always be one or two doubts surrounding the position of the 57-year-old.
There has been no word from the new American owners but history tells us that in that in such situations, chairmen do tend to want to get their own man in as soon as possible, which could spell trouble for Jol.
Paolo Di Canio is always a man to watch for entertainment value and his first full season as Sunderland manager is sure to be an interesting spectacle. The fiery Italian kept the Black Cats in the top flight last season and one thing is for sure whether Sunderland have a good or bad start to the season, Paolo Di Canio will not be very far from the headlines. Di Canio is clearly a passionate man when it comes to football and that could come to a head at any stage which will ensure that he is never far away from the head of the Sack Race betting with bookmakers.
There is just as much pressure on the managers at the top of the table as well this season with a number of comings and goings over the summer. David Moyes will surely be given plenty of time to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United so don’t expect him to be the first manager out of the door.
It is a similar situation at Stamford Bridge following the return of Jose Mourinho to Chelsea and even though Abramovich is known for his impatience, he will surely allow the Special One time to settle back in.
There has also been a managerial change at Manchester City this summer with the well-respected Manuel Pellegrini taking the reins at the Etihad.
The former Malaga boss will be only too aware that a good start to his Premier League career is vital, which might make him an interesting outsider to be the first top flight manager to be given the elbow this season as City’s Abu Dhabi owners will expect their side to be in the title race from the off and put up a much better showing in the Champions League than the past two seasons once the competition’s group stage gets underway come September.
Without having a crystal ball to hand, it is always difficult to predict how any season will go in the Premier League but there are one or two situations that could easily flare up.
There is no doubt that the Newcastle situation falls into that category with the Pardew and Kinnear pairing looking like a recipe for disaster. The director of football role has rarely proven a success in the Premier League and should one or two results go against the Magpies, you can be sure that it will be Pardew and not Kinnear who will start to worry for his job and as such, it is the former Southampton boss that is taken to be the first to be axed.