What Manchester United can expect on their travels to the North East
It may not be pleasant but manager sackings are rife in the modern game, it’s a fact. For a number of reasons, teams are parting ways with their head coaches more often than ever before. Manager’s falling out with owners, fans unrest, squad unrest and poor results being the main culprits thus far. Throughout the English leagues this season, a staggering 44 managers have lost their jobs. But are these decisions always for the better?
Six Premier League clubs have waved goodbye to their managers, with Swansea City managing to sack two managers already this term. However, the “changing of the guard” for these teams have provoked mixed responses. On one hand, we have Leicester City, where many questioned that the players had become disgruntled under then-manger Claudio Ranieri. The current premier league holders had seen a dismal run of form which had left them very firmly in the relegation battle. Their performances had been lacklustre and frankly appalling at times, with many that some players simply hadn’t returned from Jamie Vardy’s infamous party. Yet only four days after Ranieri had left, with football fans across the world still in shock over his dismissal, Leicester put in a performance that was even more shocking. A more than comfortable 3-1 win over Liverpool, only to be followed by yet another 3-1 win over Hull City and cementing their place in the last eight of the Champions League. There is no coincidence in the timing either, a complete revamp in energy levels and passion for the game has come as a result of a manager being sacked.
On another note, there is Swansea City, a team who struggled at the start of the season and following a loss to Liverpool, the board decided a change was needed. The sacking of Francesco Guidolin was followed by two wins out of their next 15 games, losing 11 of those games. Whether the blame could be placed on Bob Bradley or the players is up for debate however it is clear that the players showed no improvement. The Swansea players looked lost and confused for a number of weeks, with no direction or energy. Their form throughout this period of time also cost Bob Bradley his job and is also the reason Swansea are still lingering near the relegation zone.
The latest team to show their manager the door was Manchester United’s next opponents; Middlesbrough. A team whose form has dipped drastically in recent weeks despite starting strongly in the early stages of the season. Question marks have been raised recently over the player’s involvement in the sacking of the manager, as Mourinho himself even commented on the player’s letting their manager down. Displays earlier in the season have shown the teams capabilities, a team who have made several clever signings including their top scorer Negredo. They have proven over the season that they are consistently tough to break down as demonstrated by their performance at Old Trafford earlier this season. Whether this style will change is yet to be seen, the squad’s approach to the next game will be very interesting.
Dismissals this season have had different impacts on their respective teams, with some teams bouncing back and other teams rolling over and playing dead. All that can be said is that the challenge Manchester United will face on Sunday could be very different to the one faced at Old Trafford. A somewhat fight or flight response is to be expected by the North Eastern side but either will result in what could prove to be a very open game. A style of game the Red Devils would be looking to exploit and finally move upwards from the cursed sixth place.
Written by Anthony Withington