Premiership managers: The degree of pressure

Managers and coaches face different degrees of pressure when they manage a soccer team. Many factors influence this pressure.
Priority: Is it to win the Premiership or to stave off relegation? Is it to remain respectable? To build for the future? To get to the CL or qualify for the UEFA?
Experience: The new ones want to prove themselves to the fans and the management that hire them subjecting themselves to a higher degree of pressure.
Players: A coach who loses a valuable player might be subject to a greater degree of scrutiny.
Tactics: A manager introduces a new approach faces instant pressure to prove what he believes will yield results.
Past history: Some managers have a history that readily lends itself to credibility issues. Are they to be trusted?
Splash the cash: The newly bought teams by business magnates whose expensive investments in players will put pressure on their managers because they want an instant return.
If one were to construct Venn diagrams of these factors then there would be a great deal of overlap. Because they are not mutually exclusive. Someone like Sven Goran Erickson obviously has issues with past history but he also has to deal with the recent takeover by Thaksin Shinawatra who has given up big money to get players to Man City. Then there are priorities. Will Svennie settle for a mid table finish? Or crack the top ten?
So we come up with a degree of pressure which is based on the pain analog scale which ranges from 0 to 10. With zero there is no pain and with ten you are basically a candidate for sedation. Since no manager will admit to not being under pressure, a zero is impossible. But the Premiership is all about pressure, so a reasonable start is five or in qualitative terms, mildly queasy. But managers are also typically not willing to admit that they are going to pieces (bad for player morale), so ten would not be a likelihood. A nine would be more like it.
The antacid popping brigade:
Alan Curbishley: West Ham staved off relegation last season because of Carlos Tevez. He is now gone. Can Curbishley prove that West Ham is more than Tevez? Can he prove that his club will move away from the sour taste that Kia Joorabchian and Sheffield Utd left in the off season. Freddie Ljungberg is not the answer. Mark Noble might be. With an anxious Eggert Magnusson and his ever vigilant presence hovering around, Upton Park is a cauldron. DOP 9.
Chris Hutchings: Wigan dodged a bullet by pipping Sheffield Utd on the last day, staving off relegation. To make sure that they would never had to suffer the agony of such a close shave again, Hutchings signed stellar Titus Bramble, Mario Melchiot, and Antoine Sibierski. Wigan also bade farewell to standouts Leighton Baines and Lee McCulloch. Will rugby prevail if the Latics fail? Will the JJB crowd remain at home? DOP 9
Sven Goran Erickson: He last coached a club a decade ago. But Man City’s new coach is high profile because of his international and national team experience. His stint with England was memorable more for his off field dalliances, less for any notable achievements. He has a new owner who has injected millions to get new transfers. Now all they need is a coach and a monkey off their back. Sven will want nothing more than shake off the past. DOP 9.
Arsene Wenger: Dealing with the departure of a player of the caliber of Henry, a mainstay of Arsenal for a decade was never going to be easy. But Wenger’s reluctance to splash the cash for some big name strikers in the off season in favour of untested but talented youth leaves him under even more pressure. He is also under pressure to commit to the club on a new contract. This coupled with the fact that Spurs are challenging Arsenal for an entry into the big four. When your sworn enemies want an entry into the big dance, it is time to get out the stressbusters. DOP 9.
Rafa Benitez: He has finally been given the keys to the bank. He now has Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel to up the ante and make Liverpool a 70+ goal team to challenge Chelsea and Man Utd for a legitimate shot at the Premiership. With Liverpool making serious moves to a new stadium and debt servicing looming large, this might be the only season that Benitez gets to prove that he is capable of winning a trophy on English soil. DOP 9
Martin Jol: Jol’s coaching abilities have so far escaped scrutiny largely because he was never in serious contention to enter the big four without players of caliber. But now he has added Bent, Bale and Berbatov to an already stellar group of players to fuel the fire. He will have run out of excuses and food poisoning if he cannot get this group to produce. So far it has not been easy. DOP 9
Gareth Southgate: Middlesborough lost Mark Viduka and will likely lose Yakubu to Everton, the two players responsible for Boro’s 12 th position last season. Their replacements include Jeremy Aladiere who never lived up to his promise at Arsenal and Mido, the prima donna Egyptian striker who can either produce or implode. Not a confidence builder and Boro might be in for a relegation fight. He does have Jonathan Woodgate, always an injury concern, considered Real’s worst signing, on a permanent transfer. DOP 9
Lawrie Sanchez: A new coach whose previous club managerial experience was without much success and limited to second division clubs is now in charge of a Premiership team that flirted mightily with relegation last season. Sanchez has had much more success managing the NI team and has brought a number of them to Craven Cottage including David Healy, in an effort to replicate those winning ways. Sanchez’s first order of business is to keep Fulham from slipping down. Not an easy job for a new coach. DOP 9
Martin O’Neill: Last season was a rebuilding season and the off season saw an exodus of players that never warmed up to O’Neill’s gung ho attitude, finding their way out, led by Steven Davis. This year O’Neill has pinned his hopes on youth and a future nucleus in the England squad, Ashley Young and Luke Moore. He would also like Stilian Petrov to shake off his inertia and become more assertive. The defense has some question marks. This is the first year of his new look team and O’Neill will be under pressure to reproduce his winning days at Celtic. DOP 9
I’ll skip the curry:
Sammie Lee: Living under the shadow of Sam Allardyce is not easy. Big Sam took Bolton and its cast of aging players and castoffs from elsewhere and made them win ugly. Enough to make Bolton into a top ten club with an UEFA entry. Lee also has to contend with the bolting Wanderers like Anelka who might be landing up at another club. The only thing going for Lee is that he will never be mistaken for Allardyce. DOP 8
Roy Keane: Some managers are just prone to putting pressure on themselves even as their team over achieves. There might not be a better example than Roy Keane whose hunger and intensity to give off his best is unmatched. It can lift a whole team. Sunderland are the beneficiaries as long as Keane exerts that pressure. With Keane there is no free ride as players found out in their loss to Wigan. DOP 8
Sam Allardyce: Allardyce left Bolton because he wanted a club that could give him the money to get closer to a title. The problem with Newcastle is that it is a club born under a bad sign. With the club under investigation for kickbacks and a perennial problem of injured players, it will never be smooth sailing at St. James Park. Allardyce has a reputation for managing struggling clubs well and it will be put to test this season. He got rid of Titus Bramble and Sibierski for a good start. But it will be more difficult to hold onto Martins and Owen. DOP 8
Steve Copell: Reading overachieved brilliantly last season when they scored over 50 goals on their way to a eighth place finish. Can Reading prove that it was no flash of the pan performance this season? The creative force behind these goals, Steve Sidwell left for Chelsea dealing a big blow. Copell’s team is superbly coached and tightly disciplined but their weakness is their lack of attack. Steven Hunt is a fly in the ointment but that is about all. DOP 8
Harry Redknapp: Portsmouth started out hot last season with Kanu banging in goals regularly. They were just lurking behind the Spurs for an UEFA cup spot when they lost momentum and finished ninth. This year Kanu has company up front with John Utaka for a powerful Nigerian one -two. Portsmouth should inch closer to an UEFA Cup spot which is what Redknapp is hoping for. DOP 8
Jose Mourinho: Actually, yes. The relationship between Abramovich and Mourinho is a bit complicated. Its good for now and a number of good Bosman transfers (read free) have helped ease some of the pressure from last year. But the complication is the Africa Cup which looms large for Chelsea could see them lose talisman Didier Drogba and Michael Essien early next year. Mourinho will be under pressure to get off to a very good start to keep the damage done in those three weeks in January to a minimum. DOP 8
Maybe its time to refill that prescription:
David Moyes: Everton had a very good season last year with success in a high powered attack with Andy Johnson and a watertight defence that got them a berth in the UEFA cup. But Everton under Moyes has been extremely inconsistent alternating great performances with indifferent ones. Everton has finished 15th, 7th, 17th, 4th, 11th, and last year they finished 6th in Moyes six years as manager. This year they might be in for a let down. Moyes will be under pressure to see that this does not happen. DOP 7
Mark Hughes: Can Blackburn make it to the UEFA Cup this season? Hughes would hope so. He has gained more heft on attack with Roque Santa Cruz and he probably has the most physical defense in the Premiership in Ryan Nelsen, Andre Ooijer, Chris Samba, and Robbie Savage. But they do give up goals as they are not the brightest of lads. Discipline is a problem and Nelsen’s send off on a RVP foul in their last match should serve as a warning to Hughes. DOP 7
Queasy but I’ll chew gum:
Sir Alex Ferguson: Winning that ninth title was a relief and according to SAF, the biggest one yet, after seeing Chelsea and Arsenal having a good run. So you have a pretty relaxed manager with some of the world’s best players regularly sought out by Real and Barca ready to drop 40-50 m quid on them. Of course, as seen in the first few games, nothing is easy, and injuries to Rooney and Ronaldo have exacerbated their inability to score. But then there is always hard pumping Carlos Tevez and a late transfer possibility in Anelka to right the ship. But this year should be the CL. DOP 6
Mildly queasy:
Steve Bruce: Birmingham made it to the Premiership this season but at present lack the personnel to keep them there. But it would be nice to spring a surprise here and there. Some good talent in a trio of ex Arsenal players (Djorou, Larsson, and Muamba) should see them do just that. They prove themselves to be tough competition in their opening match against Chelsea, forcing a draw against Sunderland, and narrowly losing to West Ham. DOP 5
Billy Davies: Tottenham blistered them 4-0 easing some pressure of Jol. And that is what the Rams will provide for managers who are facing pressure cooker situations, a safety valve. Davis is a passionate manager but he does not have the players. However he would like nothing better than more games like the first one against Portsmouth. Derby will be followed closely in the US because of Benny Feilhaber, an exciting prospect in the national squad. DOP 5

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