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In Focus: Ranking the Premier League's new bosses
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Matthew Storey
Ralf Rangnick has not enjoyed the easiest start to life as Manchester United boss
Ralf Rangnick has not enjoyed the easiest start to life as Manchester United boss

Sacking season came early in the Premier League with six managers departing by the middle of November.

But that meant opportunities for new bosses to give the English top flight a shot as well as familiar faces getting another crack at the whip.

Some have been successful, others less so. We rank the six mid-season appointments in order of their performances so far. 

1. Antonio Conte (Tottenham)

A managerial appointment heralded by nearly everyone in the footballing world, Antonio Conte has quickly got to work at Tottenham.

They have taken 18 points from his eight league games in charge, though they remain two points off the top four and have only moved up from eighth to sixth in the table.

A kind run of fixtures early on helped with his wins coming against Leeds, Brentford, Norwich, Crystal Palace and Watford.

But it was the draw with Liverpool and the performance that accompanied it that have got Spurs fans so excited.

After that game in December, Gary Neville said: "He's a great manager, you can see the influence he's had on this group. 

"The energy compared to how they were before, the stadium is electric, and it was brilliant in here all the way through the game.

"He'll be disappointed with the chances missed because I think he set up his team perfectly, but also proud and realise he's got a good group of players here. We started to question that over the last 12-18 months."

2. Steven Gerrard (Aston Villa)

Steven Gerrard's record as Aston Villa boss so far
Steven Gerrard's record as Aston Villa boss so far

Four wins and four defeats from eight Premier League games looks a middling record for Steven Gerrard — the reality is it is not.

A tough start to life at Villa Park has seen Gerrard face Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Sunday’s defeat to Brentford is the only real blot on his copybook with the Villans looking a team transformed after a difficult opening to the campaign under Dean Smith.

In December, former Villa striker Tony Cascarino wrote in The Times: "In only four games with Aston Villa, he has succeeded in making his team an expression of his character and personality. 

"Villa play the way he did — they get the ball forward quickly, and they are direct and energetic. 

"It is a real skill to make a team a reflection of the way you are — the most obvious example of someone who has done that is Sir Alex Ferguson."

3. Eddie Howe (Newcastle)

Ever since Eddie Howe was appointed on November 8, it has felt like the whole of Newcastle has been waiting for the transfer window to open.

The Magpies picked up five points from 11 games prior to Howe’s arrival and have taken six from eight since then, so it has been an improvement.

But it perhaps has not been as pronounced as the new Saudi owners would have liked.

That said, Watford’s poor form means the gap to safety is now just two points, even if Leeds in 16th are a further six ahead.

Like the Hornets, Newcastle’s backline is in dire need of reinforcements and by avoiding being cut adrift before signings are made, Howe’s job so far has been satisfactory.

4. Ralf Rangnick (Manchester United)

After a solid start to his temporary life in the Manchester United dugout, things have taken a turn for Ralf Rangnick.

They have taken 13 points from six games in the league but only four of them have come in the past three matches.

Promises of high-pressing, high-octane football have so far been misleading, though Rangnick was the last man appointed out of this group and has had barely any time on the training ground with his players due to coronavirus outbreaks.

But the stale displays have been tough to watch and Rangnick’s United look no different to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side currently.

Following Monday’s defeat to Wolves, there have been stories of cliques in the dressing room, as well as claims that up to a third of the senior players want to leave.

It has not been plain sailing so far.

5. Dean Smith (Norwich)

Dean Smith has struggled to get performances from a depleted Norwich squad in recent weeks
Dean Smith has struggled to get performances from a depleted Norwich squad in recent weeks

Despite only sitting one point behind Newcastle and Burnley, nobody seems to believe Norwich can beat the drop.

But that was very different after Dean Smith’s first three games in charge saw them pick up five points.

Victory over Southampton was followed by draws with Wolves and Newcastle. Since then, it has been bleak for the Canaries.

But Smith remains defiant with Norwich forced to play games despite coronavirus and injury issues. 

After their latest defeat to Crystal Palace, he said: "We’ve got some major injuries and illness problems for some big players at this football club.

"We’ve got our captain Grant Hanley out, Tim Krul out, Teemu Pukki out, Mathias Normann out, Max Aarons who has played pretty much every game out.

"It’s a really long injury list and we got battered in the first half in the first game against Southampton but because we had senior players and people with experience in this level it kept us in the game.

"By keeping us in the game it helped us to earn the win and turn around the performance. At the moment we probably haven’t got that experience in the ranks."

6. Claudio Ranieri (Watford)

The pressure is on Claudio Ranieri — though as a Watford manager that is always the case.

A 5-2 victory in his second game was followed up by a famous 4-1 victory over United in his fifth.

Aside from that it has been bleak for the Hornets under the veteran Italian boss and six defeats in a row have the vultures circling.

Not that all of the issues are Ranieri’s doing with a squad desperately short of Premier League quality.

And that is why the noises coming out of Vicarage Road suggest he will be backed for longer than usual under the Hornets ownership.



Premier LeagueTottenham HotspurAston VillaManchester UnitedNewcastle UnitedNorwich CityWatford
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