Ranting Conte joins the merry-go-round
published : 1 Apr 2023 at 04:13
newspaper section: Sports
writer: Nobby Piles
The departure of Antonio Conte from Tottenham Hotspur did not come as a great surprise after his extraordinary rant, but it means that as the Premier League clubs gear up this weekend for the final run-in, more than half of them will not have the manager they began the season with.
It has been the usual merry-go-round. Some of the managers deserved to be fired while others were arguably victims of hasty decisions by panicking owners.
It seems a long time ago now but the first to get the axe was Scott Parker at Bournemouth on Aug 30. It followed a 9-0 thrashing and no tears were shed at his departure.
Gary O'Neil took over the reins as head coach and has done a decent job including a stirring win over Liverpool. Nonetheless, the Cherries are still among the favourites to return to the Championship.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the dismissal of Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea so early in the season on Sept 7, only 15 months after having won the Champions League with the Blues.
Chelsea had been playing poorly but many felt Tuchel's dismissal was a trifle premature.
Admittedly in his last few matches, Tuchel had been looking an increasingly agitated figure on the touchline and did not inspire total confidence.
Tuchel's successor at Stamford Bridge, Graham Potter who was lured from Brighton, has suffered similar problems as his predecessor with an underperforming Chelsea side that seems to dominate matches for long periods without being able to score.
October saw the departure of managers at two clubs in the Midlands.
First to go was Bruno Lage at Wolves with his club third from bottom. Julen Lopetegui has since taken over with mixed results and his team are not yet out of danger.
Two weeks later, Steven Gerrard received his marching orders from Aston Villa.
Despite his playing pedigree and managerial success at Rangers, Gerrard could not get the best out of his squad and his tactics came under question.
Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery has taken over the reins with some success, steering Villa well clear of the relegation battle.
Southampton have the dubious distinction of sacking two managers this season.
There was a certain inevitability concerning the departure of Ralph Hasenhuttl in November.
Despite some hefty defeats, the Austrian had done well to last nearly four years but the board finally lost patience and he was gone.
Unfortunately, his replacement, Nathan Jones formerly of Luton Town, never really looked the part and was sacked just three months later.
The Saints are currently bottom and new boss Ruben Selles has his work cut out to save them from relegation.
Frank Lampard, like his former England colleague Gerrard, has struggled to transfer his success on the pitch to that of management.
To be fair, he did not inherit a great team at Everton and after an unflattering 3-6-11 win-draw-loss record, the board let him go in January.
Sean Dyche looks to be the ideal replacement but it remains to be seen if he can give the Toffees enough energy to escape the drop.
Jesse Marsch, the only American manager in the league, bit the dust in February with Leeds United facing their second successive relegation battle. Like many sacked managers, Marsch suffered from his team's inability to score.
Javi Gracia has taken over at Elland Road and will be hoping that home form will be enough to keep his side safe.
Perhaps the most surprising sacking so far has been that of Patrick Vieira at Crystal Palace.
Up to the World Cup break, he had been doing quite well with limited resources.
However in 2023, Palace have yet to win, which was enough for owner Steve Parish to ditch the former Arsenal star.
While his replacement Roy Hodgson has rescued Palace before, at the age of 75 you would have thought he could have done without all the pressure involved in turning things around at Selhurst Park.
All the managerial changes are simply a reminder that the shelf life of Premier League gaffers is getting shorter every season.
It does not matter how big a name, if the results don't come they will be on their way.
- nobby piles