Five big managers already under pressure
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s position as manager of Manchester United came under renewed scrutiny on Saturday after a dismal 1-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa.
Although we are only around six weeks into the 2021-22 season, a number of big managers are already under serious pressure.
Here are five coaches who must improve fast.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Man Utd)
Solskjaer is approaching his third anniversary of being appointed as Manchester United manager and will reach the landmark in December.
Despite being in charge of one of the three richest clubs in the world, Ole has still yet to win a trophy as manager. And they have not come close in the two biggest tournaments; the Premier League and the Champions League.
Despite a big summer of spending – signing Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane – few believe Solskjaer is capable of bringing back the glory days to Old Trafford.
The 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa was United’s third loss in four games. During that time they were knocked out of the EFL Cup and lost their first Champions League match to Young Boys.
The fact that Man Utd are still only one point off the top of the Premier League table means that Solskjaer is not under immediate risk but any further losses and his position will certainly be seriously questioned.
Ronald Koeman (Barcelona)
Ronald Koeman’s terrible start to the season at Barcelona continued on Thursday with a drab 0-0 draw with Cadiz.
In a game the Dutch head coach really needed to win to ensure his safety at the club, he instead watched his team huff and puff, before a second yellow card for Frenkie de Jong all but ruled out a later winner.
Koeman seems set to be given until the international break but it may already be too late to save his job after a disastrous start to the season has totally undermined his leadership.
Barcelona find themselves down in eighth position ahead of their Sunday afternoon match with Levante and were thrashed 3-0 at home by Bayern Munich in their opening Champions League clash.
Max Allegri (Juventus)
Max Allegri returned as coach of Juventus this summer after two years away and it was hoped he would resurrect a side that finished in a disastrous fourth position last season.
However, Allegri endured a terrible start to the campaign as Juve picked up just two points in their first four Serie A matches – their worst beginning to a campaign for 60 years.
Allegri’s football has been criticised as too defensive – even outdated – with calls for him to play a more attacking style.
Juve have steadied the ship with two nervy wins this week against Spezia and Sampdoria but the jury is out over whether Allegri is modern enough to rebuild this struggling team.
Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
Mikel Arteta appeared to be on the brink at Arsenal after losing the first three games of the season without even scoring a goal.
This included a dismal opening day defeat to a Brentford side playing their first top-flight match for 74 years.
Arteta has calmed the waters a touch with 1-0 wins over Norwich and Burnley but his position very much remains under scrutiny, as does that of transfer chief Edu.
Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham could be crucial in Arteta truly turning the tide in his favour.
Nuno Espirito Santo (Tottenham)
Across north London, Nuno Espirito Santo has not enjoyed the best of starts to life as Tottenham manager.
Despite winning his first three Premier League matches 1-0, the nature of those performances suggested the positive results wouldn’t continue.
And indeed they didn’t as Spurs have since lost 3-0 in successive EPL games to Crystal Palace and Chelsea.
They are without a win in 90 minutes for four games and Spurs fans are not happy with the Portuguese’s defensive football.
Like Arteta, the north London derby on Sunday will be vital in winning over the fans and critics.