Top 10 features the top ten stories from the previous month from across the footballing world. The featured articles may be about a massive headline or a result from the previous month, or a culmination of a particular story that needs to definitely be noticed and discussed about. This feature is to bring a different flavor to the breaking news we see and talk to others about and aimed at constructively looking at the point in discussion.
As the English Premier League reaches the half way stage, it has become pretty clear about each team’s performances and expectations. 5 teams felt their manager wasn’t performing to their most basic of expectations and consequentially, this apparent under-performance has seen them get the boot. Here we will be analyzing the reasons for the sacking of each of the 5 managers who have been sacked: Craig Shakespeare, Slaven Bilic, Ronald Koeman, Tony Pulis and Frank De Boer.
FRANK DE BOER
Frank De Boer replaced veteran Sam Allardyce at Crystal Palace at the start of the season. His first game him ended with a 4-0 loss to newly promoted Huddersfield. Following this, Crystal Palace lost their next 3 games without scoring a goal. After the end of four games, Palace had scored zero goals and had earned zero points- a record for the worst ever start in English top flight history. He was unceremoniously sacked after a 1-0 loss against Burnley, just 10 weeks after his appointment, leaving after having managed the team for 450 minutes of Premier League action making it the shortest managerial reign in the Premier League era in terms of the number of matches managed.
Frank De Boer wasn’t given enough time to prove his mantle as five games is undoubtedly not enough. Frank De Boer tried to implement a more measured passing style of football to a set of players who had been used to hoofing up long balls under Sam Allardyce and as a result, there was poor feedback from his players in training ground sessions. His arrogant treatment of senior players Joel Ward and Martin Kelly also proved futile in the end. The club owners were dismayed of his tactical naivety and lack of clarity in training. Team selections were also questionable, at least from the board’s perspective as De Boer looked to play only those that deemed fit for his philosophy while overlooking established senior members of the squad. While one can argue that De Boer should have taken a more straightforward approach in the handling of players, Palace are definitely to be blamed for this. If they did not want his playing style or philosophy, they should have thought twice before firing him. But off the pitch issues ensured that the club was not down the right path and for these reasons, Frank De Boer paid the price.
Craig Shakespeare was appointed as the manager of Leicester City replacing recently sacked Claudio Ranieri. Claudio Ranieri had led the Foxes to their first ever league title in the previous season (2015-16), but his team’s performances last season was nowhere near to their title winning form which eventually resulted in Ranieri getting the boot. Craig Shakespeare steadied the boat at the King Power Stadium ending the season at 13th position and he was duly rewarded with a new three year contract.
But a poor start to the season, which saw Leicester go winless for a streak of 6 games meant Shakespeare’s position was in question. Leicester, at that time, were in the bottom three and in danger of a possible relegation. Their only league win came against newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion. However one thing to be noted here is Leicester had 4 defeats which came against Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. The sacking came in as a shock as Shakespeare had great mutual understanding with the Leicester players and he was a respected man in the inner Leicester circles. But the Premier League’s ruthless nature meant even a slight change in form can get you sacked.
Tony Pulis had done an admirable job at West Brom until last season if you consider their results and their league position. But if you take a much deeper look into the statistics, you would be shocked to find the lack of goals especially at Hawthorns. Averaging less than a goal per game at your home ground will, undoubtedly, frustrate the fans and board alike. Fans, who eagerly wait for the weekend to watch their favourite team play after a week of hard work, prefer their teams to score a goal(s) but the attacking football(if any) played by Pulis angered them and a number of voices were raised by the fans to sack Pulis.
West Brom had a horrendous run of form from the end of last season till Mid- November (when Pulis sacked). The club had won just twice in 21 games in this torrid run of results which saw Tony Pulis getting sacked. The board was left with no other alternative but to wield the axe as a result of frustration and disenchantment of the fans over Pulis’ ultra-defensive style of play and tactics, combined with poor results and a highly paid under-performing squad.
The start of the season rings a very familiar bell for West Ham and its fans; struggling in the league, talks of Slaven Bilic being sacked and dreadful on field performances. The previous season was the same story, with West Ham hovering around the relegation zone for much of the first half of the season, before a late rally saved the Hammers from the chop, with a respectable 10th place finish still being a disappointment for the club after hoping to achieve European football for the third season in running.
While the owners and fans expecting the club to kick on, another mediocre start to the campaign could not be tolerated at the club and based on their early performances, it was pretty much visible that to be heading that way. This forced the owners’ intervention and Slaven Bilic was sacked. Slaven Bilic had a plethora of issues with his team. Under-performing players, poor recruitment, a problem with player power and no style, structure or organization on the pitch meant Bilic had no other option but to go. Until he was sacked, West Ham had the worst defensive record in the league and their lack of defensive organization cost them dearly in most games.
Everton spent 150 million last summer, the 7th highest of any club in Europe, letting go of only one player and arguably their best, Romelu Lukaku. Ronald Koeman was hailed as the manager to break the blues into top four. But after a really disappointing start to the campaign which saw Everton slide into the relegation zone resulted in Koeman getting the axe. Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Gylfi Sigurrdson, Wayne Rooney, Davvy Klaasen etc were all signed but when the window closed, Everton were left alarmingly short at striker, fullbacks and winger positions. The club had failed to replace Romelu Lukaku and the effect was seen on the pitch. After a disastrous 5-2 loss to Arsenal at the Goodison Park, Ronald Koeman was sacked. Poor recruitment and lack of genuinely fast players were one of the major reasons. His arrogant treatment of Ross Barkley and Oumar Niasse didn’t go well with the owners and he didn’t have any positive relationship with the fans. All this culminated with his sacking, which is thoroughly justified considering the money that was spent.
All these dismissals show that managing a team in the English Premier League is a different ball game and even a run of four bad games puts your job under scrutiny unless you are Arsene Wenger of course.