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It’s that time of year again; the January window is vast approaching and the national teams have discovered their World Cup qualification fate, and over the past week, owners and chairmen have wielded their axe to create another yearly episode of ‘Sacking Season’. West Brom have somehow decided the man to take them away from the relegation zone is not Tony Pulis, while Everton are still searching for a permanent manager since sacking Ronald Koeman in October. International sides are also lacking managers at their helms, with Scotland and Italy dismissing Gordon Strachan and Gian Paolo Ventura respectively after failing to steer them to the World Cup in Russia this summer. Wales are also on the look for a new manager, after Chris Coleman resigned to become manager of Sunderland in the Championship. Here are our opinions on who we think should take the jobs at these high-profile clubs.
Everton – David Unsworth
The Toffees have struggled for form since the start of the season, which is surprising considering the amount of money they spent on new players. Despite their vast amount of player acquisitions over the summer, they are finding it difficult to find a suitable replacement for Ronald Koeman, with David Unsworth placed in temporary charge for the time being. If I were Bill Kenwright and Farhad Moshiri, I’d stick with the man they have, at least until the end of the season. With the quality Everton have in their side, they won’t get relegated, and their former youth coach is reportedly a popular figure amongst the players, so it’s worth taking the safe option here. Unsworth’s results as caretaker manager haven’t exactly been awe-inspiring, but has shown he can instil confidence and passion amongst his players in the 3-2 comeback win over Watford a few weeks ago. The owners in Everton have been desperately trying to strike a deal with Marco Silva, the Hornets manager, but it would be a huge shock if the Portuguese manager left only a few months into his new project at Vicarage Road. In order to create a bit of stability around the club, the Toffees should stick with Unsworth.
(Image from mirror.co.uk)
West Bromwich Albion – Sam Allardyce
It was a huge surprise to see Tony Pulis dismissed by West Brom this week, as how can the Albion board believe that a man who has never been relegated cannot be trusted to steer his side away from the relegation zone? The fact that Pulis guided his team to a top ten finish last year makes the decision even more baffling, and this puts even more pressure on the Guochuan Lai, the Baggies owner, to make the right decision with regards to their next managerial choice. For me, there’s no debate as to who Albion should turn to, and it’s Sam Allardyce. The former England and Crystal Palace manager knows how to move a team up the table and away from the Premier League trap door; he even kept Sunderland in Premier League, which, considering where the Black Cats are sitting now in England’s second division, is a major achievement! There’s also the right calibre of players at the Hawthorns which is perfect for Allardyce to work with, including hard-working midfielders like James Morrison and Gareth Barry, as well as a big, target man striker in Salomon Rondon. There is a doubt, however, as to whether he’d take another Premier League job, after announcing his ‘retirement’ in the summer when he left Palace, but surely he must be tempted by another relegation dogfight…
(Image from express.co.uk)
Wales – Tony Pulis
Pulis may not be out of a job for long, as his Baggies sacking coincides perfectly with the resignation of Chris Coleman as the Wales manager. Before leaving for Sunderland, Coleman stated that his successor should be a “proud Welshman” and Pulis fits that bill perfectly, being the most high-profile Welsh manager in the game at this present moment in time. Many of his critics will say that he wouldn’t be able to manage high-profile players such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, but he’s been a respected Premier League manager for a decade now, surely he’s earnt the right to have a go as national team manager? Many Wales fans are calling for Ryan Giggs but this would be a big risk for the Welsh FA. Apart from a brief interim spell at Manchester United, he hasn’t held a managerial role before, and countless Premier League medals does not mean that you are a capable manager. Pulis, meanwhile, has the ability to grind out results and improve Wales defensively, something that the Dragons really missed during their recent failed World Cup qualification campaign.
(Image from the Daily Mail)
Scotland – Alex McLeish
Following their failure to reach the World Cup play-offs with a disappointing draw to Slovenia in October, Gordon Strachan left his role after being in charge of his country’s national side for four years. Malky Mackay has been placed in temporary charge for the time being, but, for me, the Scottish FA should turn to one of their former managers to take charge once again. Under McLeish’s stewardship in 2007, Scotland came close to qualifying for Euro 2008, despite being placed in a group with France and World Cup champions Italy, a 1-0 win away in Paris is deemed one of Scotland’s greatest ever victories, and McLeish can bring back a bit of excitement for the Tartan Army, after several years of underachieving under Strachan. Since leaving the Scotland role in 2007, McLeish has managed in the Premier League at Birmingham and Aston Villa, while he’s also taken Genk to the Europa League, so still has the necessary experience for the role. The Scottish FA are currently talking to Michael O’Neill, the manager of the Northern Ireland national team, but it would be a shame for O’Neill to make such a sideways move, especially considering that his story with Northern Ireland may not be finished just yet.
(Image from BBC)
Italy – Roberto Mancini
As James wrote in his article last week, Italy’s current mood is one of national crisis having failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in half a century. Gian Paolo Ventura shot himself in the foot in the play-off games against Sweden, failing to play his national side’s form players, such as Lorenzo Insigne. Imagine if Gareth Southgate dropped Raheem Sterling, given the form he is currently on, in such a big game for England? Ventura was dismissed almost immediately after the shameful defeat, and there have been many rumours as to who will be the man to take over. Antonio Conte is the reported number one target for the Italian FA, but the Chelsea manager loves the idea of a project, and surely won’t leave Chelsea mid-season, nor revisit a past role that he has undertaken. Conte is, however, unhappy in England, being far away from his family back in Italy, so it will be interesting to see how patient the Italian national side will be regarding Conte’s situation in west London. Carlo Ancelotti is another man who could take the role, having won pretty much everything there is to win in club management, but the Italian FA should turn to somehow who plays the Italian style of football, with three central defenders and a very defensive mind-set. The perfect man who fits all the criteria is Roberto Mancini, having managed in Serie A on countless occasions but also a respected figure in European football. We all saw his passion and desire to win as manager of Manchester City, and this would be a match made in heaven, for one of international footballs ‘fallen giants’.
(Image from the Mirror)
What do you think? Do you agree with our decisions? Is there anyone we’ve missed? Could there be any surprise choices? Let us know your views.