Who will be the first Premier League Manager sacked in 2020?

Dean Smith /Aston Villa ©imago images / PRiME Media Images 01.01.2020

There have been plenty of managerial changes in the Premier League this season. The first of the clubs to make a change was Watford, back on September 7th when Javi Gracia was sacked. The last Premier League manager to get the boot before the end of the 2019 calendar year was Manuel Pellegrini who West Ham ditched just after Christmas.

In between, there have been four other top-flight managers who have been sacked.

Javi Gracia (Watford) – September 7th
Mauricio Pochettinno (Tottenham) – 19th November
Unai Emery (Arsenal) – 29th November
Quique Flores (Watford) – 1st December
Marco Silva (Everton) – 5th December
Manuel Pellegrini (West Ham) – 28th December

There will probably be more managerial changes to come, especially among the teams who are battling against the prospect of relegation.

Will there be an early casualty?

There were Premier League casualties after January 1st 2019 through to the end of the season. David Wagner left Huddersfield on January 14th becoming the first one to go. He wasn’t sacked, he left of his own volition. Others to go were Claude Puel from Leicester, Claudio Ranieri from Fulham and Chris Hughton left Brighton. Then after the close of the season, Maurizio Sarri parted ways with Chelsea and Rafa Benitez likewise from Newcastle

But who will be the first Premier League manager of the new decade to be sacked? The first EPL manager to get the sack a decade ago was Burnley’s Owen Coyle who left the Trotters in mid-January.

Let’s look at the main contenders in the 2020 EPL Sack Race

Dean Smith 2/1

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith is walking a tightrope now. He is the 2/1 favouirte at Ladbrokes to be the next EPL boss sacked* (betting odds taken from Ladbrokes on December 20th, 2019 at 8:40 pm). The Villains closed out 2019 in the drop zone. There was a massive slump from them in December. Villa won just one of seven played and losing five of the other side.

In their last game of the year, Villa paid a visit to Watford and were hammered 3-0 by ten-men. The defensive woes that the Villains are having are just not showing signs of slowing up. They have shipped at least two goals in six of their last seven games. There is extra pressure on Smith’s position. That’s because Villa spent big over the summer to try and help the process of staying up. It’s not exactly gone to plan.

Ralph Hasenhuttl 4/1

Southampton’s revival at the end of the year may well have bought Ralph Hasenhuttl some more time at St Mary’s. Despite that he’s 4/1 second favourite to go next* (betting odds taken from Ladbrokes on December 20th, 2019 at 8:40 pm). After pulling off the miracle of keeping them safe last season, things weren’t going well at the start of this campaign.

Southampton won just two of their first 13 games of the new campaign. But they closed out the calendar year winning four of their last seven and only losing two of their last eight (W4 D2 L2). So there were strong hints of survival and a corner being turned. Notable wins for them in that sequence were against Watford, Norwich and Aston Villa, the three teams in the relegation zone. So the Saints came up big in high-pressure survival duels.

Daniel Farke 5/1

Norwich are in a tough position. They are at the foot of the table and six points away from safety. Throw in their horrendous goal difference and realistically that is a seven-point deficit that they have to make up. They are most likely not going to go out on a big January spending spree because of the financial risk of that back-firing. They have a manager who has enjoyed some great times with the club and who has given them a wonderful footballing identity.

The Canaries only took three wins from the start of the season through to the end of December. But will they find better than Farke? The style with which Farke approaches the game, which is more in the shape of bold attacking, could be his undoing. Norwich may want to turn to a manager who is going to offer them a bit of grit and who knows how to win games ugly. Having seen Watford’s burst of form since bringing in Nigel Pearson, Norwich will know that they can’t wait much longer on a decision.

Eddie Howe 5/1

You always get the feeling that Eddie Howe and Bournemouth will be in partnership for a long time. The club seems to have tremendous faith in him. But there is a growing concern on the south coast because of the difficulties that the Cherries are having this season. With six defeats in their last eight league games of the year, the Cherries will head into 2020 only two points above the drop zone.

That leaves Howe as a 5/1 option to be the next EPL boss to go* (betting odds taken from Ladbrokes on December 20th, 2019 at 8:40 pm). Bournemouth need some heavy investment in the attacking department, as that is where they are really falling short. Howe is a savvy boss and he did manage to get three points at Chelsea and a home draw against Arsenal in their final four games of the year. A striker in January (as Bournemouth scored just two goals in their final six games of 2019) could be a simple fix for their woes, however instead of searching for a new manager.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 10/1

It has been an up and down season from Manchester United. They haven’t been bad at Old Trafford, but have been a sorry bunch at times away from home. Back to back wins over Spurs and Man City gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a great boost of job security in early December. But they have not been good defensively this season and there have been plenty of times where they have churned out dreadfully sour performances, such as in their 2-0 loss at the bottom side Watford on December 22nd. A run of a few games at the start of the year without a win would easily throw an unwelcome spotlight back on the Red Devils hot seat. It seems unlikely though, despite them having away games at Arsenal and Liverpool in their first three games of 2020, that OGS will be the first to go.