'Tis the season...for Premier League managers to be fearful.
Chairmen up and down the country are beginning to panic, and see now as the only feasible time to change the boss - enough time to make the team his own before the end of the season, less cash wasted in January - supposedly, anyway.
Unfortunately, in the fragile state football sees itself in at the moment, very few are safe from the axe, as epitomised by the sacking of Steve Clarke. Clarke had done an admirable job at West Brom, leading them to their highest finish in over 30 years during his first season in charge.
His second season had produced less impressive results, the firepower of Romelu Lukaku evidently missing from the comparably tame forward line.
However, he had brought in the likes of Stephane Sessegnon, Nicolas Anelka and Victor Anichebe who, given time, may have been able to step up and score the goals West Brom need, and could still do so.
Furthermore, the emergence of Saido Berahino showed encouraging signs for the future.
However, nowadays football does not seem to be about the future - it is purely about today. A dismal run of four straight losses and only one win in 10 saw Clarke's head on the chopping block, despite rumours of new contract talks in the new year.
One cannot help but feel that Clarke was partly, to use the old cliche, a victim of his own success. Eighth place is an astounding achievement by a team who, on the face of it, should be nothing more than a very average mid-table side.
Unfortunately, I believe this achievement may have distorted the view of the West Brom board, as they thought they should always be competing at this level. I would be surprised if we see them in the top half come the end of the season.
Yet under Steve Clarke you did feel it was still possible - they were, after all, only five points off the top half. I'm not really sure what more they expected from him at this point.
And then there is Andre-Villas Boas. Poor fella. Believe it or not, the Spurs job has been AVB's longest reign as a manager at 17 months.
However, one can only have so much sympathy with a man who has spent in excess of £100million in the summer without recruiting sufficient defensive reinforcements (as emphasised in the humiliating loss against Liverpool) or a decent striker, but has a surplus of surprisingly average attacking midfielders.
Although again perhaps this is not his fault - he claims that they were not his signings, and that Franco Baldini is to blame. A fair enough comment; maybe he was just doing the best he could with the mediocre additions he was given.
But maybe the problem is that he needs to be more forceful, tell the chairman what he wants and make sure he gets it. The same happened at Chelsea, where he claimed he didn't sanction any of the signings made during his time at Stamford Bridge.
Furthermore, it doesn't take a genius to realise that it is not a good idea to have the questionable Danny Rose as your only left-back.
There's not a lot you can do about injuries, but you can't expect one player in a position to stay fit all season. Etienne Capoue's lacklustre performance against Liverpool further proved the need for defensive cover.
And then there's the goals. Soldado seemed like a no-brained at the beginning of the season, and I still feel that he could be a success. However, he has been left isolated by his lack of support from the attacking midfield players.
It does not take a genius to see that this was a problem. Coaxing the best out of Soldado seems fairly easily solved - try him up front alongside Jermain Defoe. AVB's reluctance to change may well have cost him in the end.
What now for these two? I firmly believe Clarke is capable of managing a Premier League side and expect him to find a job with ease. The Watford vacancy seems like a possibility at this moment in time.
Unfortunately, I fear that AVB will never get another chance at a top club - certainly in England, anyway. If I was him i would be straight on the phone to West Brom, as that seems about his level, and hope to keep in the mediocrity for a while. That seems all he is destined for.
Oh, he won the Europa League and Portuguese League. Well done mate. Doesn't exactly make him the cream of the crop though, does it? He'll do alright somewhere, but don't expect anything spectacular from him over the next five years.
I, personally, expect to see him in the Middle East in the next five years. Watch this space.
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