iBet: Two managers who could feel the pressure…

Gareth Purnell

Premier League Sack Race

Back Mark Hughes 25/1 and Chris Houghton at 25/1

This is a bit of a fun market (although obviously not for those involved), but it is interesting to note that over the last 10 years only two favourites have won it, and that in all the other years the ‘winner’ of the Sack Race was at least 12/1 and at up to 33/1 at the start of the season. It’s an illustration of how fickle football is and why we must look for a bit of value.

Newcastle’s Alan Pardew is as short as 11/4 this time and it has to be said his position does look precarious following the appointment of Joe Kinnear to ‘oversee transfers’. But his contract runs until 2020, meaning there would be a huge compensation payout should he be booted out, and I would not want to be betting on the whims of owner Mike Ashley.

Next in the betting is Swansea’s Michael Laudrup at 7/1, but despite Manchester United’s demolition job on them on Saturday, that looks a ridiculously short price given how brilliantly they were playing pre-season and that the big managerial appointments across Europe have now been made.

Chris Houghton may look safe at Norwich after steering them to safety last season but it has to be remembered that they fell over the line. They have spent a lot for a mid-table side in the summer, including Gary Hooper (£6 million from Celtic) and Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (£8.5 million from Sporting Lisbon) and that will have raised expectation.

A bad start could see the manager quickly under pressure, and at 25/1 he’s worth an interest. The other one I’ll flag up is Stoke’s new manager Mark Hughes. Fans should be careful what they wish for. Tony Pulis did brilliantly at Stoke with his limited squad of players and if Hughes, who has not really proven himself in Premier League and has had no real money to spend in the summer either, is charged with changing the playing style, it could all go badly wrong very quickly. At 25/1 he’s too big a price to ignore.


Robin van Persie is 5/1 favourite to be named PFA Player of the Year for the coming season, with Eden Hazard 8/1, and Juan Mata and Gareth Bale 10/1. It’s a wide open market and the winner could easily very come from outside of these, with Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho worth a mention at 12/1.

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