Pochettino says he’s staying – now the spotlight shifts to Hughton
Southampton fans, resigned to losing their manager Maurico Pochettino when chief executive and ally Nicola Cortese left the club on Wednesday,, breathed a collective sigh of relief yesterday afternoon when the Argentine told the world’s media he was staying to see the job through.
Saints’ fans feared the worst in light of remarks made by Pochettino last May, the essence of which were that he would find it difficult to contemplate staying in his role if Cortese were to leave.
The bookies took those comments at face value and he soon became a short-priced favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post. And even after assurances, things don’t look entirely done and dusted down at St Mary’s – Coral still go just 4/1 that he is next to go.
Now, though, the hot even money favourite is Chris Hughton after the Norwich chief executive David McNally insisted that the manager’s position is secure only for as long as he keeps the club out of the bottom three.
This doesn’t look good at all for Hughton. Currently just two points clear of the relegation zone, just one bad result could see Norwich could dropping into the bottom three; it could conceivably even happen this weekend if results don’t go their way.
It is so tight at the bottom of the Premiership that you might think that owners and chief executives of clubs outside the drop zone would be frightened stiff of making such a huge call at this stage of the season in case it tipped them over the edge.
But even the hint of the prospect of demotion from the land of milk and honey causes blind panic. So far five managers have been replaced – at Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Cardiff, Fulham and West Brom – and with those clubs unlikely to make another change before the end of the season, the spotlight has naturally shifted to some of the other clubs in danger – Norwich, West Ham and Aston Villa.
It looked for all the world as though Sam Allardyce was on borrowed time following a series of desperate results, but he is now out to 8/1 with Coral on the back of a timely 2-0 win at Cardiff and public shows of support from the West Ham hierarchy.
That’s the same price Paul Lambert, whose Villa team at least have a few points in hand of the Canaries and Hammers.
Unsurprisingly, the five 100/1 outsiders in the Next Manager To Go market are the five managers in charge of the top five in the Premier League. Pochettino’s is a unique case – for everybody else, it’s all about results.