Who Will Be the First Premier League Manager To Depart in 2018-19?
Peter Nicholls-Reuters. Pictured: Crystal Palace’s Roy Hodgson
- Watford's Javi Gracia is the 4-1 favorite to be first manager gone this Premier League season.
- Managers for the three newly promoted clubs of Wolverhampton, Cardiff City and Fulham all come in at 16-1 or higher.
- Manchester City's Pep Guardiola is the unlikeliest first manager gone at 50-1 odds.
Premier League managers don’t last very long at one club anymore. Just half of the league’s managers have been with their club for more than two years, and eight managers have been with their club for less than one calendar year.
Arsene Wenger is now gone from Arsenal after 22 years, making Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe the longest tenured manager at 5 years, 282 days.
>> Sign up for The Action Network’s daily newsletter to get the smartest conversation delivered into your inbox each morning.
Last season, it took exactly one month for the first manager to be fired. Crystal Palace’s Frank de Boer was sacked on Sept. 11, 2017, and replaced by Roy Hodgson (pictured above). Nine other managers were axed during the 2017-18 season, including five by Christmas.
In 2016-17, the first manager fired was Swansea City’s Francesco Guidolin on Oct. 3, replaced by American Bob Bradley. Five managers were handed their walking papers during the season, but there were also eight brand new managers from that preseason.
So which managers are under the most pressure heading into the 2018-19 Premier League season? Here’s a look at the odds from Ladbrokes sportsbook to be the first manager to depart (includes firing, mutual agreement, etc):
Watford’s Javi Gracia is the favorite at 4-1 odds to be first manager fired and he’s surely under a lot of pressure to provide results quickly this season. He arrived in January of 2018 and while he won four games at home, Watford managed to pick up only one point in seven road matches. Fortunately they have a favorable opening schedule (vs. Brighton, at Burnley, vs. Crystal Palace), but if they struggle early then he may not last long.
Mark Hughes (6-1) crucially kept Southampton in the Premier League last season and signed a three-year deal. The Saints start this season with challenging tests against Burnley, Everton and Leicester City, but those are winnable matches.
Claude Puel (Leicester City) and Rafa Benitez (Newcastle) are next on the list with 8-1 odds each.
Newcastle had a very respectable 10th-place finish in their first season back in the Premier League in 2017-18, so Benitez should get more leeway this year. They’ve got difficult home matches against Tottenham and Chelsea during the opening month, but that could be a positive considering those two clubs could be dealing with some World Cup fatigue early on.
Puel led Leicester to a ninth-place finish after his appointment in October. He’s a good fit there and should be given more time, especially with the players brought in to bolster the defense. However, they did lose creative midfielder Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City, so we’ll find out if they can make up for it.
Bournemouth has had success under Eddie Howe (16-1) and while they likely wouldn’t sack him, it’s possible that he could leave for another job.
>> Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.
Neil Warnock (16-1) has now led eight teams to promotions, and I can’t see Cardiff City letting him go even if they struggle early. They’ve got matches at the beginning of the season where they can attain points, and he should be safe for a while.
Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp (33-1) and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola (50-1) have the longest odds, and it’s difficult to see a scenario where they don’t last the entire season.
Unai Emery (25-1) just got to Arsenal in the offseason, so something catastrophic would need to happen early.
Huddersfield Town’s David Wagner also comes in at 25-1, and the club is very fond of their manager who was able to keep them in the Premier League against the odds last season. With a fresh two-year contract, he’s likely not going anywhere even if they don’t perform in the opening months.