In Focus: Benitez still leading Premier League sack race despite win
Six managers have already been relieved of their duties this Premier League campaign — and there could still be more to follow.
As the busy festive period approaches, we take a closer look at three bosses who could find their positions under threat in the coming weeks and months.
Everton manager Rafa Benitez is the most vulnerable, but a victory against Arsenal has alleviated some of the pressure on Merseyside.
The Spaniard is one of three Premier League coaches needing results quickly, as we outline below.
Rafa Benitez (Everton)
Changes have started to feel inevitable at Goodison Park in recent weeks with Everton’s form having nosedived after a promising start to the season.
Benitez’s summer appointment caused plenty of controversy among Toffees supporters given the 61-year-old's links to city rivals Liverpool but 13 points from his six opening league games helped to silence critics.
Since then however, the Blues have suffered humiliating home defeats at the hands of Watford and Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.
Underwhelming away losses at Wolves and Brentford have increased scrutiny, with Monday's victory against Arsenal perhaps only stemming the flow of negativity for now.
Frustration is sky-high among the fanbase and the discontent prompted the Everton board into action with director of football Marcel Brands leaving the club on Sunday evening.
Goodison Park chiefs have pledged their full support to Benitez but results will have to improve quickly and over a sustained period of time if he is to avoid a similar untimely exit.
Ralph Hasenhuttl (Southampton)
A Premier League relegation battle always tends to place a manager’s future under the spotlight — and Southampton’s Austrian boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is bound to be feeling the glare.
Now winless in four league clashes, the Saints currently sit only six points above the bottom three with their three league victories this term each coming via a 1-0 scoreline.
Only Norwich and Wolves have scored fewer goals, while Southampton have also made a habit of struggling to see games out when ahead.
Since Hasenhuttl arrived in December 2018, his side have dropped 71 points from winning positions, a league-high tally which has been added to in recent clashes with Norwich, Leicester and Brighton.
Though the St Mary’s hierarchy are notoriously patient with their managers, getting sucked further into the relegation battle may see them opt for a switch in the dugout.
Marcelo Bielsa (Leeds)
Although Marcelo Bielsa enjoys legendary status among Leeds supporters, sentiment is not always enough when Premier League survival is on the line.
Having guided the Whites back to English football’s top table, the Argentine boss received global acclaim last term for the exciting, all-action brand of football his team brought to the division.
However, last season’s top-half finish now feels a long time ago with the Yorkshire giants having struggled badly to replicate their form despite retaining the majority of their playing squad.
Aside from a late smash-and-grab against Crystal Palace, their sole league wins have come against struggling Watford and Norwich and a relegation battle looks a distinct possibility.
Bielsa’s strong principles mean he is unlikely to ever change his style — if things are getting desperate, he is the kind of character who may see fit to depart for the good of the club.