Football is a results
business so Mark Hughes has cause to be worried if the movements in the Sack
Race market are anything to go by. Less than a month since the last change at
the helm of a Premier League club and attention has turned to Eastlands after
Manchester City lost their third consecutive league match against Tottenham
Hotspur last weekend.
Sky Bet slashed the price of the former Wales
coach to 7-4 to be the next top-flight manager to leave his post while Victor
Chandler and William Hill offer the top price of 10-3 about Hughes, who has
usurped Gary Megson, now trading at 9-2 (Hill's), as the market principal.
Ladbrokes looks sure Hughes is not in for
a long stay at the world's richest club, quoting 13-8 he will not be City
manager at the close of the January transfer window and just 5-6 that he will
have left the job by the start of the 2009-10 campaign. The Ladbrokes spokesman
Nick Weinberg said: "With the huge riches at Mark Hughes' disposal comes
pressure. The new backers will be keen to see a return on investment sooner
rather than later."
Should City's results continue to be poor - they
host Arsenal and Manchester United on successive weekends after Sunday's game
at Hull - Sheikh Mansour is unlikely to accept the possibility that City could
finish in mid-table and he could dispense with Hughes' services. Why let your
manager spend in January if you're not convinced he can do the job? So the 13-8
Ladbrokes offers that he is gone by the end of the first month of 2009 looks a
fair bet. The fact that a number of bookmakers are already betting on who will
be the next City manager - Sky Bet make Jose Mourinho the 4-1 favourite - also
suggests the layers are expecting a change soon. Whether Hughes will be the
next managerial casualty is debatable, though. Megson, unloved by sections of
the Reebok crowd but backed by the Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, is unlikely
to go. It's also doubtful Gianfranco Zola, an 11-2 (Hill's) shot to be the next
top-division manager out, will leave West Ham. The Upton Park club are
struggling financially and could not afford to get rid of the Italian.
But further down the list there are managers whose reign could be about
to end. Paddy Power and Chandler quote Tony Mowbray at 10-1. Given that the
West Brom chairman, Jeremy Peace, sacked both Megson and Bryan Robson after
they failed to keep the Baggies in the Premier League, it is possible the
former Hibernian manager might not last the year. Tony Adams trades at 16-1
(Sky Bet and Hill's) and the former Arsenal captain could find himself out of
Fratton Park should new owners come to Portsmouth.
Results have not
been great for Sunderland either recently, and while it is unlikely the Black
Cats board would sack Roy Keane, who is 16-1 with Sky Bet but just 6-1 with
Hill's, it is conceivable he could walk away from the club. Keane is yet to
sign an extension to his contract which is up at the end of the season.
Paddy Power has opened a market on how many more Premier League
managers will go this season, quoting two as the 5-2 favourite and none at 9-1
- the latter looks unlikely to pay dividends.
quote whoever the next Newcastle manager is at 25-1 to be the next Premier
League boss to go, even though his identity is unknown. Alan Shearer is the
latest man to be punted to succeed Kevin Keegan permanently: the BBC pundit was
backed with Sky Bet and Hill's this week, and he was gambled into as short as
3.0 (2-1) for significant money on Betfair. However, he has subsequently
drifted to 8.0 (7-1) on the betting exchange, with the caretaker manager, Joe
Kinnear, resuming favouritism at 4.5 (7-2).
One managerial vacancy that
could be filled soon is at QPR, where Gareth Ainsworth is 6-4 (Sky Bet) to get
the job permanently. It is hard to imagine Roberto Mancini, now the 11-10 (Sky Bet)
favourite, standing for Flavio Briatore's alleged insistence on meddling in
team affairs but Ainsworth, you feel, will almost certainly take a back seat.
Selections Mark Hughes to leave Manchester City before the
end of January at 13-8 (Ladbrokes) Gareth Ainsworth to be the next manager of QPR
at 6-4 (Sky