The season is under a week old but it won’t be long before the first managerial heads are on the chopping block.
Struggling Claude Puel and stroppy Jose Mourinho are the early frontrunners in the Sack Race, but how exactly do you go about winning this dubious honour?
COMPLAIN ABOUT A LACK OF SIGNINGS
This is ‘Getting Sacked 101’. Any manager worth his salt will bring out the age-old excuse of not having enough money to spend when results don’t go his way, but you can guarantee it won’t end well.
What you’re effectively saying is ‘my boss is too cheap to give me a chance to do my job properly’ which is always what a chairman loves to hear.
Plus, it has the added benefit of letting all your existing players know that they’d be dropped immediately if you had a spare £50 million to throw at literally anyone else.
Mourinho managed a textbook example when he lamented his shoestring squad, which he’s assembled for a mere £350 million, and we can expect him to tug at our heartstrings throughout the season by claiming to be a heroic underdog even if he’s playing against Burnley.
FALL OUT WITH THE FANS
Nobody on earth is more fickle than a football fan. When you’re winning it doesn’t matter whether you’re parking the bus metaphorically or even literally, but as soon as the results start going against you, the loyal supporters will get out the craft supplies and start preparing their ‘[Insert Manager Name] Out’ placards. In the case of Arsenal fans they took some work but were reusable every other week for a decade under Arsene Wenger.
The greatest example of antagonising your own fans in recent years was Mick McCarthy’s delight in winding Ipswich’s supporters up, even managing to turn a goal scored against Norwich into a chance to insult them. By the end of his reign at Portman Road, McCarthy only just stopped short of turning up to games in full Norwich kit as he desperately attempted to get the chop.
A deafening crescendo of booing every week gives the chairman a subtle message that axing the manager may not be a bad PR move but it’s worth bearing in mind that most chairmen have learned to tune out the fans pretty effectively, otherwise they’d cry themselves to sleep every night.
LOSE THE DRESSING ROOM
Losing the fans is one thing, but as soon as the players hate your guts and start secretly celebrating that 4-0 drubbing you’re really motoring towards the exit door.
If you can get the dressing room to split into several warring factions, all of whom despise you, then you’re starting to look like Sack Race material.
Falling out with and then dropping clearly the most talented player in the squad is always a winner, as is publicly ripping into individual players for their mistakes.
You’ve hit the sweet spot when your players’ goal celebrations are so full of pent-up rage that they involve throwing their shirt in your face or kicking over advertising hoardings (à la Temuri Ketsbaia).
GET A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE
Once you’ve got the vote of confidence from the board, you may as well start packing your bags.
In fact the more emphatically the chairman backs you in a statement, the more certain it is that he’s already chatting to your replacement every evening and has filled in the first few lines of your P45.
If you start seeing someone who looks a lot like Sam Allardyce in the stands chatting to the chairman during games, then you can sit back and wait to be told by Twitter that Sack Race victory is yours. Job done.