Reid 12-1 In Sack Race

Last updated : 27 July 2003 By Kevin Markey

The bookies appear ready to start applying the pressure, with odds coming out on who will be the first casualty of the 2003/04 season. Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly really, managers with the most cash to spend appear to be amongst the favourites.

Which, of course, is good news for Reid as his pot is as empty as can be now. Having busied himself lavishing new signings, with club owner Roman Abramovich's riches, upon an already impressive squad, Chelsea's Claudio Ranieri is 5-2 favourite with Paddy Power to be the first Premiership manager shown the door this season. Yes, the sack race is ready to kick off again.

And this for a man who spent next to nothing last season hoisting Chelsea back into the Champions League. The irony is that outside Stamford Bridge job security has never been so good in the Premiership. Aside from the going's on at Sunderland last season - where Reid made way for Howard Wilkinson, who made way for Mick McCarthy - only Terry Venables with us, Graham Taylor at Aston Villa and Fulham's Jean Tigana were out of work by the end of the campaign. As we know at Elland Road, Reid was the only managerial casualty until El Tel's spell was cut short towards the end of March.

Yet, of the quartet fired since March, only Venables' sacking smacked of the trigger-happy boardroom panic of old. Managers are harder to sack these days, with the cost of paying up contracts concentrating chairmen's minds given the parlous nature of most clubs’ finances. David O'Leary's departure from Elland Road eventually meant £4m compensation, money Leeds struggled to muster. The panic at the Stadium of Light last year saw Reid paid a similar amount and, later, Wilkinson and his assistant Steve Cotterill another £1m.

"It's going to take the best part of three years for football's finances to settle down," said John Barnwell, chief executive of the League Managers' Association. "Some managers would have been dismissed a long time ago but instead they stick by them. They can't afford two wages, one on the former manager in compensation, the other for the new manager."

The transfer window has also stayed the executioners' hand. The traditionally dicey period around October, when early-season optimism gives way to depressing reality, is no longer as perilous, with chairmen aware that any new manager would be unable to bring in his own reinforcements straight away.

West Ham's Glenn Roeder publicly stated he hoped to tinker with his team when the window opened last January, by which time he had earned yet more time. Reid, allowed a desperate £10.5m outlay on Tore Andre Flo and Marcus Stewart on the eve of his departure, was the exception that proves the rule.

Instead, it is managers such as Ranieri, with money to spend, who have most to lose. Glenn Hoddle is second favourite at 4-1, the Tottenham board aware that he has spent heavily over the summer. At 9-1, Gérard Houllier, for all the faith shown in him at Liverpool, knows he must qualify for the Champions League this term.

In contrast, the likes of Micky Adams (10-1), Harry Redknapp (22-1) and Dave Jones (25-1) hardly appear to be at serious risk. Not so Ranieri.

Who will be first to get his P45?

Claudio Ranieri Chelsea 5-2 Glenn Hoddle Tottenham 4-1 Chris Coleman Fulham 6-1 Gérard Houllier Liverpool 9-1 Micky Adams Leicester 10-1 Peter Reid Leeds 12-1 David O'Leary Aston Villa 14-1 Kevin Keegan Man City 16-1 Alan Curbishley Charlton 20-1 Harry Redknapp Portsmouth 22-1 Sam Allardyce Bolton 22-1 Steve McClaren Middlesboro' 25-1 David Jones Wolves 25-1 Graeme Souness Blackburn 25-1 Steve Bruce Birmingham 33-1 Gordon Strachan Southampton 33-1 Arsène Wenger Arsenal 33-1 David Moyes Everton 40-1 Sir Alex Ferguson Man Utd 40-1 Sir Bobby Robson Newcastle 50-1

Odds courtesy of Paddy Power
(You can of course lose your money to many other bookmakers with similar odds)

Adapted from an article in today’s Guardian by Dominic Fifield.