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Anorak | The Sack Race

The Sack Race

by | 15th, August 2003

‘THE season begins in earnest tomorrow, as we the people wonder who will be the first manager for the chop.

Roman has come to bury Claudio not to praise him

And the first name from the hat is Claudio Ranieri. The Italian has called for two ”champions” in every position of the Chelsea team.

He has pretty much got his wish and Chelsea have the strength in depth to be major force. Thus indulged, Ranieri has to turn so much promise into silver.

The FA Cup is not worth its salt to Roman Abramovich, who must expect at least the Premiership title to go to the Bridge. The suggestion is that Ranieri has two seasons to win this prize.

The smart money says he has one. If Chelsea fail, coming home third or lower by a margin of more than, say, eight points, Ranieri will be replaced.

If the Blues are pipped to the title on goal difference or by a single point, Ranieri will be replaced. The thinking will be that if another man had been in charge Chelsea would have fared better.

This does at least take the Italian to the season’s end, and only a dismal showing early on in the season and an early exit from the Champions’ League will hasten his departure.

He is thus 4-1 for the chop, the same odds as Glenn Hoddle. Now Glenn is in trouble. The Messiah’s return to the Lane has not been going according to plan.

Spurs have spent big this off-season – although it’s hard to see Bobby Zamora restoring the glory days just yet. Glenn will get six months to show a marked improvement. If he is failing then, he will finally get the boot.

In the west of the capital, Fulham’s new young boss Chris Coleman is 5-1 to not see out his first season in charge. This is harsh, but not altogether unfair.

Coleman has little experience as a manager and may be too close to the players and his playing days to pack the necessary ruthless punch. This could be the bet to take.

Kevin Keegan and Gerard Houllier (both 8-1) are longer shots. If Keegan goes early it will most likely be by his own volition.

But he’s popular and Manchester City have a fine new ground and David Seaman to counter the cavalier Keegan style.

Houllier is less certain. True, his Liverpool have won a few silver pots, but the title has been well beyond their reach, despite the club spending many millions on new talent.

A poor start this term and the spiky Frenchman could be shown the door.

Mickey Adams (9-1) is popular at Leicester. The biggest threat to his job is nerves and how well he keeps his in the Premiership’s boiler room.

Peter Reid (11-1) should never have been given the Leeds job. But he’ll most likely survive. And Sam Allardyce (14-1) looks like he’s at Bolton for the long haul.

David O’Leary (14-1) at Aston Villa will at least be given the season by Deadly Doug before an inevitable falling-out. And Graeme Souness (16-1) has excelled at Blackburn Rovers. (What price Souness to be the next manager of Spurs?)

Beyond that, the odds are too long to be taken seriously and the likelihood of a sacking or resignation is remote.

The question is who will take over from Ranieri. After all, there must be a second champion in his position…



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