We will enter the 2014/15 English Premier League season with a strange situation at a lot of the top clubs. I wonder if we have ever had a season where so many of the top managers had so much to prove.
Five of last year's top seven clubs will have coaches with one year or less in charge. Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool has two. Even Arsene Wenger after 18 years at Arsenal and fresh from winning his first trophy for six seasons no longer seems to have the confidence and support of a fair proportion of Gunners' fans who crave another domestic title.
Liverpool fans are of a similar mind but have waited much longer for a championship. Despite last season's heroics and the undoubted progress made under Brendan Rodgers' two terms in charge, I wonder where a setback would leave his Liverpool career?
Remember Kenny Dalglish won the League Cup in his last season but that didn't save him from the sack. I suspect Rodgers' fate will rest not so much on him winning a trophy as how the team continues to perform and develop and how he spends the significant transfer pot (with or without the Suarez money).
Dalglish's downfall had as much to do with the tens of millions he wasted on Andy Carroll (£35m), Stewart Downing (£20m), Jose Enrique (£6m), Charlie Adam (£7m) and Sebastian Coates (£7m) as with results. John W Henry is very cash-conscious and won't tolerate much more wasted expenditure at the club.
Manuel Pellegrini probably has the least to worry about after two trophies including the Premier League in his first season. Perhaps the only target that he might be expected to achieve would be more penetration into the knockout phase of the Champions League. Manchester City have been fickle in their disposal of managers in the recent past, but he would have to do something pretty horrendous to lose his job next term.
While Jose Mourinho falls into the category of 'new' managers in terms of his recent tenure he, of course, has previous with Chelsea and a relationship (however strange) with Roman Abramovich.
It also appears as though the Russian billionaire has given his coach pretty well carte blanche in making signings and an almost inexhaustible budget to aid this. In spite of the stature of Mourinho or his personal position, Abramovich has not been tolerant for very long when this level of activity hasn't produced instant results in the past.
After a debut season almost universally lauded, and a return to European football, it is hard to imagine what could go wrong for Roberto Martinez at Everton. But the noises coming out of the club are that the majority of the Sky windfall will be spent on infrastructure.
So, while every club around them is spending tens of millions on players it looks like Everton will be restricted to a few relatively low key signings (with perhaps one marquee) and the loan market again.
If Gareth Barry isn't secured and a replacement for Romelu Lukaku acquired, they will find it hard to compete.The biggest danger to the relationship between Martinez and Everton might be when the Spaniard realises that without the necessary funds he cannot take the club anywhere.
Mauricio Pochettino had a fantastic season at Southampton and produced a remarkable upsurge in fortunes for the team and individuals within it. But Tottenham is a different proposition on every level. They have struggled to find the right match since Harry Redknapp departed but will still be expecting instant impact from the Argentinian.
Managing a club like Southampton and developing players without high profiles is a different sort of skill to what will be required at Spurs. He will be expected to make big signings and get them gelling and winning quickly. We know he can do the latter but his length of tenure will depend very much on the former.
And so to Louis van Gaal. He might be forgiven for thinking that after the David Moyes' debacle and his own achievements with Holland to date that he should be pretty safe in his first season.
The trouble is that the fans and, more importantly, the board have tasted blood for the first time in decades. They want a quick return to previous glories and are not inclined to tolerate excuses or underachievement for very long now.
There have already been rumblings and he hasn't even taken up the post yet; having to wait until the World Cup is over to get fully immersed probably hasn't improved the mood of fans nor his prospects.
There is a lot to lose and only a very few prizes to be gained. Despite what Hot Chocolate tell us, everyone can't be a winner. It will be interesting to see who falls soonest in the race no-one wants to lead.
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