Which struggling Premier League manager is nearest to the sack?
With the 2018/19 Premier League season six games old, the story is developing a plot. Given the division's chaotic nature, it's no surprise the opening chapter sees a few managers already fighting for their jobs. Here are the three likeliest candidates to get off the mark in the sack race.
Although Wagner defied all the odds to keep Huddersfield in the Premier League last season, Lady Luck hasn't gazed so fondly upon him this season.
Already with four defeats, including Leicester City on the weekend, Wagner and his men find themselves in the relegation spots. Huddersfield isn't a terrible squad. Wagner's negative tactics are proving detrimental this season. The Terriers only have three goals on the young season. For all their focus on defending, they've conceded 14. Caution isn't working. Throw it to the winds.
Look at Javi Gracia's Watford. The Hornets demonstrate positive tactics yield results. Wagner signed a new contract in May. He might have a little more time on his hands. However, if Wagner doesn't change his playing style, his stay on the South Coast will be shorter than expected. The last campaign was an exciting, wonderful adventure. Unfortunately, the honeymoon's over.
Many billed Cardiff City as favourites to go down this season. Based on recent evidence, they've called it spot-on.
Teams who lack attacking intent struggling at the table's bottom end is a developing pattern. It's all well and good to play defensive football when you can hit teams on the counter. That's never been the Bluebirds' forte. When realises their scoring statistics match Huddersfield's, it's clear sitting back isn't the answer.
One can sympathise with Warnock; he hasn't the best quality to work with at the City Stadium. On the other hand, managers must succeed with what the tools at hand. If points don't start coming, the feisty old gaffer will be going.
Although Claude Puel's getting better odds, the Chilean is my pick as the first manager to face the sack. If ever there was a team punching below their weight, it's West Ham United.
Optimism peaked following Pellegrini's appointment. A summer where nearly £100 million's spent on new talent and a boss with a Premier League title on his CV arrives tends to lift spirits. However, three straight Premier League defeats before this weekend's goalless draw with a tired Chelsea squad in the League have put the Hammers down. Breaking the club's traditional mentality is a massive undertaking for the 65-year-old.
West Ham's identity is as a club that sits back, allowing teams to come at them. Pellegrini managed Malaga and Real Madrid in La Liga. He replaced Roberto Martinez at Manchester City because the Italian was too cautious. He's neither Pep Guardiola nor Jurgen Klopp but his teams play aggressively. Pellegrini isn't communicating his ideas with effect. The squad's lethargic. A defence that keeps leaking goals doesn't help the Chileans cause, either.
Fans are unhappy. It's been their default state since Dmitri Payet's defection and the move from the intimate Boleyn Ground to the cavernous London Stadium. Most telling, they're not shy about expressing their displeasure to ownership. If Messrs Gold and Sullivan are committed to a culture change, they must invest heavily again in the winter window to help it along. If not, Manuel Pellegrini will be shopping his resume rather than for Christmas gifts.