Premier League managers always on the edge

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Football News

Yesterday's news that Mick McCarthy's five-and-a-half year tenure at Wolverhampton Wanderers had come to an end was a sad day for football.

There are few more decent, or genuine men in the game than 'Big Mick', and his total dedication and commitment to the job did not merit him reaching for his P45.

The Wolves squad that is left behind is the epitomy of McCarthy. Honest, hard-working players, with no amount of show ponies or con artists. Simply, industrious, hungry professionals, eager to improve and striving for success.

That tight group work ethic that McCarthy's mantra was built on, has served Wolves well over the years, and is exactly what got them into the top-flight in the first place.

Whilst critics may say that the club has stagnated over the past three seasons in the Premier League, the ability to stay amongst England's elite should be deemed as an achievement in its own right, and certainly provided an incentive for the Wolves players to consistently 'put a shift in', as McCarthy liked to call it, in order to keep pace with the rest of the division.

Sadly, a return of just 14 points from the last 22 games heaped growing pressure on the Molineux manager, and after Sunday's emphatic 5-1 defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Albion in the Black Country derby, the Premier League's fifth-longest serving manager was gone.

Sir Alex Ferguson sits proudly at the top of the tree of long-serving stalwarts, in an era of modern madness that has made for an ever-changing environment when it comes to football managers, as the weight of public and press expectation too often becomes too much to handle.

The 70-year-old Scot celebrated 25-years in charge at Manchester United late last year, having been afforded the time to implement a certain style of play and brand of winning football that has helped him build a lasting legacy that will forever be remembered at Old Trafford.

Ferguson's ability to constantly evolve and reinvent teams with tactical changes has resulted in a particularly fluid and adaptable approach to the modern-day game.

His most recent teams, which have won four Premier League titles and reached three Champions League finals in the past five years, have developed a devastating counter-attacking style that has influenced other teams across the world.

But even if United's success had wavered, surely Ferguson would be afforded the usual line of firing? Perhaps not.

Then there is Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. The frugal Frenchman is in his 16th season in north London, and holds a proud record of having successfully guided the Gunners into Europe in each of the past 15 campaigns. However, this season could be different.

For the first time in his tenure, Wenger has come under increasing pressure from disgruntled Arsenal fans, as the club's apparent lack of ambition in the transfer market, and inability to keep pace with the Premier League's big spenders leaves them at risk of falling behind.

After everything he has done for the football club since his arrival back in 1996, there have even been calls from some quarters for Wenger to be moved on. Failure to end the club's six-year trophy drought with either the Champions League or FA Cup this year could prove to be the final straw. Surely not?

David Moyes at Everton (May 2002) and Tony Pulis at Stoke (June 2006) are the third and fourth longest serving managers, but both are under considerably less pressure thanks to differing levels of expectation.

For years now, and despite a shoestring budget, Moyes has consistently over-achieved at Goodison Park while Pulis has successfully established the Potters in the Premier League, whilst also overseeing the club's return to Europe - albeit the Europa League this term.

Another high-profile manager who already finds himself under intense pressure is Chelsea chief Andre Villas-Boas - the Portuguese tactician only arrived in north London in June - but after a poor first half to his first season in charge, there are already rumours that Roman Abramovich is losing patience with the former Porto boss.

Villas-Boas was appointed with a long-term vision to oversee a clear-out of Chelsea’s ageing players, bringing in new and exciting young talent. But in a results-driven business with an emphasis placed on the here and now, will he realistically be given the time that is needed? I fear not.

The managerial merry-go-round is a powerful machine that shows no signs of slowing down. McCarthy's untimely sacking yesterday only further enhances my belief that every coach reserves the right to see a job through until the end of a season.

When all is said and done, an owner, or chairman can make a more informed, balanced decision over the future of their club and/or manager. They may have fallen on their own sword by then.

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