It’s fair to say things haven’t been going according to plan for Unai Emery in his second Arsenal season. Despite a solid Europa League campaign, the Gunners’ league form has been underwhelming even at the best of times, meaning Champions League qualification feels like a long shot and even a repeat of last season’s fifth-place finish is no certainty.
With Emery’s team sitting closer to 17th than fourth as far as points totals are concerned, plenty are calling on the highers-up to cut ties with the Spaniard before the end of the international break.
Some fans might believe he deserves more time, but if he’s sacked he wouldn’t be the first Premier League manager to get his marching orders while much of his squad is away, like a head teacher announcing your head of maths has left the school during half-term and you’ll just need to get used to the new person in charge,
Cutting ties at this stage isn’t always rewarding, though, as some of the examples below show.
Slaviša Jokanović (Fulham, 2018-19)
Jokanović did a great job taking Fulham up to the top flight, but once they got there things didn’t go quite as smoothly. The Serb was allowed to spend the GDP of a small country on new players, including three £20m arrivals and two new goalkeepers – for some reason.
He lasted until November, at which point a total of five points from 12 games was deemed ‘not good enough’ – who could possibly say why?
Replacement Claudio Ranieri stepped things up with a massive 12 points from 16 games, and even he didn’t last the season. It would be wrong to blame just one man for what was truly a group effort.
Slaven Bilić (West Ham, 2017-18)
After leading West Ham to a memorable 2015-16 campaign, Bilić spent just over a year forgetting how to win a football match.
16 wins in that first season were followed by 12 in year two, meaning he was on course for *takes out calculator* just eight in the 2017-18 season. Don’t believe us? Two wins from 11 means eight might actually be a generous estimate.
The Croatian was replaced after a 4-1 home loss to Liverpool, during which West Ham took three minutes from ‘having a corner at 0-0’ to ‘being 2-0 down’. Yeah, not great.
David Moyes came in and kept the team up, which… well, it could have been a lot worse.
Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool, 2015-16)
Right at the point where Rodgers had stopped drawing every game 1-1 by digging out a 3-2 league win over Aston Villa, he was given his marching orders in October 2015.
Oh, apparently we should mention here that his final game ended 1-1, against Everton.
Wonder what happened to the guy who replaced him.
Dick Advocaat (Sunderland, 2015-16)
Advocaat was sacked by Sunderland on the same day Rodgers was handed his Anfield P45, which – if we know anything about leaving drinks clashes – can’t have been fun.
The Dutchman had kept the Black Cats up the previous season, but won none – that’s right, none – of the opening eight games.
Sammy Lee (Bolton Wanderers, 2007-08)
Speaking of Big Sam, Lee was the deputy promoted to boss when Allardyce left Bolton for Newcastle. Plenty of the managers on this list had proven records, only to endure a nightmare start to a season.
Lee was more of a punt. After taking charge of two games at the end of the previous campaign (one point, five goals conceded), he picked up just one win from his first nine before being given his marching orders just before the end of the international break.
So late, in fact, that another league game passed before the Trotters hired his replacement. That man, Gary Megson, managed to keep Bolton up, and stuck around until December 2009. Lee, meanwhile, eventually went back to being Allardyce’s number two. At least he’ll always have that 3-0 win against Reading.