It was Stone Roses singer and proud Mancunian Ian Brown who sang about getting the F.E.A.R, and whether it was fear of failure that formed the main subject matter of that ditty or not one man who will surely be getting the willies as we head towards Halloween is Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese gaffer was sacked by Chelsea in December 2015 remember, and with his United side currently boasting some five points less than his pilloried predecessor Louis Van Gaal had at this stage Mourinho could be forgiven for fearing the worst.
Luckily, it seems as though he retains the support of the majority of the Old Trafford faithful, and despite his price in the Next Premier League Manager to Leave Post market halving overnight from 40/1 to 20s, he should be safe – for now.
Instead, who is likely to get the bullet next in this cruellest of betting markets?
David Moyes (10/11, Paddy Power)
The hot favourite for the Premier League ‘sack race’, Moyes is available as short as 4/11 in some circles, and while we suspect the Sunderland board will keep the faith – for now at least – the Scot’s presence at the head of the market owes as much to the stability of those around him in the market rather than his own fragility.
But with Big Sam Allardyce lurking in the background, there is a sub-plot which suggests the (briefly) former England boss will be recalled to once again save the Black Cats’ bacon from relegation. If media speculation is to be believed, a consortium is planning to take over the Mackems and bring back Allardyce as soon as possible, although for now at least that can be filed under ‘possible scenario’ rather than probable.
Even so, Sunderland chairman Ellis Short is a man not known for his patience with managers, and even though we can have some sympathy for Moyes for inheriting a poor squad he did spend approximately £31 on new players in the summer. Without a win in nine, clearly the pressure is mounting on the former Manchester United boss – but for the time being, punters are advised to keep a watching brief.
Aitor Karanka (7/1, Coral)
It seems surprising to see the Spaniard installed as the second favourite for this market, and that probably has more to do with his rather volcanic temperament than his side’s on-field performances.
Lest we forget, this is a manager that famously resigned as Middlesbrough manager last season after a huge fallout with his players before being talked around, and while things are going reasonably well on the pitch – his team were outstanding in the 0-0 draw with Arsenal on Saturday, there is always that feeling that he may be on the verge of a meltdown off it. A November fixture list that features Manchester City (away), Chelsea (home) and Leicester (away) is unlikely to help.
It’s unlikely he will be sacked whatever happens this season, but a resignation? Stranger things have happened, and for now at least Karanka looks the value in the market.
Mike Phelan (10/1, Paddy Power)
We take no great pleasure in saying this, but it is quite likely that Mike Phelan will be sacked as Hull City manager this season. They’ve lost their last five matches in a row, conceding 19 goals, and without the squad depth or the finances to resolve that situation, unfortunately modern football is a rather unforgiving beast.
But the former Manchester United man will surely be given time to at least attempt to turn things around, and that breathing space may just be enough to discount him from the reckoning in this market.
Tony Pulis (14/1, BetVictor)
The reason that Tony Pulis features in this market so vividly is because of his pragmatic style of play, rather than his results on the field; and that, you would hope, means he is a no-go for punters here.
Pulis has worked wonders with the Baggies, make no bones about it, and on a shoestring budget to boot. He is trying to change the way his side plays – the signing of Nacer Chadli will help – and hopefully that will be enough for him to shake off the ‘boring’ tag.
The Midlanders are comfortable enough in mid-table having played Spurs and Liverpool in their past two games, and once they get fixtures with Manchester City and Leicester out of the way they have the triumvirate of Burnley (home), Hull (away) and Watford (home) to look forward to. Sack Pulis? Football really will have lost its mind.
Slaven Bilic (16/1, SkyBet)
Another whose potential dismissal would raise more than one eyebrow in the football community would be Bilic.
Okay, so his West Ham side have started sluggishly in 2016/17, but back-to-back wins has eased some of that pressure. He has had a swathe of injuries to deal with, plus the difficulty of the Hammers moving into a new (and, largely, unwanted) new home, and so in a couple of months’ time we could be laughing uproariously that the Croat was even mentioned in this market.