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 Posted by Nick Miller
Sep 2, 2014

Sam Allardyce heads up the Premier League sack race

After three Premier League games, West Ham's Sam Allardyce is most likely to get the sack.

The Premier League sack race is back for its second installment to look at which Premier League managers are walking the tightrope and which are resting easy in the knowledge they have some job security.

The front-runner

The sense at this stage is that the West Ham board are just waiting for an excuse to get rid of Sam Allardyce (odds to be the next Premier League manager to go: 7/4).

Davids Gold and Sullivan seemed to want a change in the summer but couldn't justify it because the results Allardyce's team produced last term were not quite bad enough for the nuclear option. Instead, they insisted on the current bizarre halfway house of asking him to change the way he has done his job for decades.

Allardyce has built a career on winning ugly, but if the first part of that promise disappears, as it is showing signs of doing, then he will not be long for this managerial world.


Axe swinging

At some point in the near future, the appointment of Alan Irvine (4/1) will probably be a quiz question, a bad dream at the Hawthorns that will leave people wondering whether it actually happened.

The Baggies have yet to win a game, which, given there have been only three, is not the biggest calamity, but the identity of their opponents (Sunderland, Southampton and Swansea) and nature of their performances doesn't exactly inspire confidence that Irvine will be a huge success.

Harry Redknapp's (4/1) future at Queens Park Rangers is either precarious or secure, depending on which source you believe, with some suggesting Tim Sherwood has already been lined up as his replacement and others thinking Redknapp is on the verge of signing a new contract.

Two defeats from their opening two games didn't help his cause, but a change in formation brought their first victory against Sunderland. While a couple of late signings in Sandro and Niko Kranjcar -- that could not be more Redknapp -- might suggest he's staying, a dip in form after the international break could find him on his way.

A few more stinking performances from Queens Park Rangers and Harry's tenure will be over.

Alan Pardew (6/1) remains rather unpopular on Tyneside, and Newcastle's early-season form is unlikely to change that, with two rather unconvincing draws and a defeat (admittedly against Manchester City) to show for their efforts.

Pardew's excuses have come to the fore again, pointing the finger squarely at the referee and, oddly, an overenthusiastic home crowd for their recent failure to beat Crystal Palace, seemingly ignoring his own side's deficiencies. They will not protect him for long if Newcastle's pedestrian performances continue.

Sunderland's performances thus far will not have strengthened Gus Poyet's (20/1) position at all, and it's fair to say he took something of a gamble by signing the mercurial Ricky Alvarez and the lightly raced Sebastian Coates on transfer deadline day.


Safe ... for now

The last edition of this column put Tony Pulis in the bulletproof, safe-as-houses, job-for-life category, but his disagreements with Steve Parish made that prediction look slightly foolish.

His eventual successor, Neil Warnock (20/1), was described by Parish as a 'safe pair of hands,' which is a little odd considering his past record shows he's anything but that in the Premier League.

With that in mind, it would be strange for Warnock to be sacked anytime soon, but his ability (or otherwise) in the top flight could make his departure unavoidable at some stage.

The fickle nature of football means that Paul Lambert (3/1) moves from the 'axe-swinging' section to safer waters, but, of course, there have been only three games, and it will take only an iffy run of form for the current mood of cautious optimism to disappear.

What a difference three games makes! With Villa sitting third in the table, Paul Lambert's job looks safe ... for now.

Sean Dyche's (20/1) Burnley side have done about as well as can be expected from a desperately tough opening few games, but football chairmen are not usually known for taking such things into account.

The Clarets are without a win, have scored only one goal and their squad still looks suspiciously like one made for the Championship, so it would be quite a feat if Dyche was to guide them to anything higher than 17th place.

Likewise, Nigel Pearson (20/1) at Leicester has dealt reasonably well with an incredibly difficult opening to the season, but given the money invested in their team (largely, it seems, on second-tier players), their board are unlikely to be enormously patient with bad results.

Garry Monk's (20/1) credentials have been doubted by many, but three wins from three so far basically means Swansea will have to be utterly calamitous throughout the remainder of the season to, firstly, be in danger of relegation and, secondly, see Monk's job threatened.

One never knows, of course, but rookie Monk looks OK for the foreseeable future.

Garry Monk and Swansea are looking sharp with three wins out of three.

Equally, starts that can probably be filed under 'a bit better than expected' have made the chances of Steve Bruce (66/1) at Hull, Southampton's Ronald Koeman (66/1) and Stoke's Mark Hughes (66/1) being given the boot lessen somewhat.

Louis van Gaal's (20/1) profile as the saviour of Manchester United has taken something of a hit in the first couple weeks of the season after some utterly desperate performances on the pitch.

Of course, the board that stuck with David Moyes until the dying embers of last season are hardly likely to get rid of a man of Van Gaal's standing, who says his methods require around three months to take hold, and the signing of Radamel Falcao has certainly lifted the mood, but there is no doubt the Dutchman's halo has slipped a little.

Mauricio Pochettino (66/1) stays in this category only because life at Spurs is utterly unpredictable; there have been so many changes of mind and shifts in approach at White Hart Lane in recent years that anything is possible.


Job for life

There can be few more frustrating sides in the Premier League to watch as a neutral than Arsenal, so one wonders what it must be like to support them.

This is a list looking at the likelihood of whether managers will leave their positions -- not whether they should -- and if it was the latter, then Arsene Wenger (66/1) would be much further up it. As things stand, there is little chance of the Frenchman being ousted, no matter how toothless they look.

Brendan Rodgers (66/1) seems to be coping reasonably well with the loss of Luis Suarez so far -- and there is, of course, little threat over his job -- but one of the more interesting subplots of the season is how he will deal with Mario Balotelli, a player who was forced to sign a 'behaviour clause' in his contract when he signed from AC Milan.

Brendan Rodgers' job might well be safe, but he has a Mario Balotelli-sized problem to deal with.

On the other side of Stanley Park, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright is so enamoured with Roberto Martinez (50/1) that even their slightly disappointing start to the campaign is unlikely to put his position in any sort of danger.

Finally, the men at the top will stay there for the duration, unless something utterly implausible happens at Chelsea and Manchester City.

The clash of styles between Jose Mourinho (100/1) and Manuel Pellegrini (50/1) is highly entertaining, and chances are we will see it for some time to come.

Nick Miller

Nick Miller is a freelance football writer for Football365, ESPN FC, The Guardian, Eurosport, Betfair and a number of other publications. You can follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.

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