Rafael Benitez has been the English Premier League sack race market leader for several weeks but surely the Newcastle boss is a false favourite to be the first manager to go.
Newcastle is paying a small fortune to Benitez for him to coach the Magpies so, unless something extraordinary occurs, one cannot see the Toon Army firing the UEFA Champions League-winning boss. And while it is possible that Benitez may walk out if Newcastle officials do not support him in the transfer market, one rates that as unlikely to happen before at least one other English Premier League manager goes. Benitez should not be the English Premier League sack race favourite ahead of several more vulnerable coaches.
Mark Hughes stands out as being the English Premier League sack race value at odds of +600 with Betfair and Paddy Power. Hughes has been in charge of Stoke since May 2013, winning 65, drawing 43 and losing 67 of his 175 games as Potters coach. Stoke supporters are split down the middle regarding Hughes and it would not take too much for those of them who stuck with Sparky throughout last season to turn against the Welshman. Stoke finished last term’s English Premier League in 13th position but, according to many statistical measures, the Potters were lucky not to be sucked into the relegation scrap. Stoke rated poorly for shots, passes and possession, the Potters netted just 41 goals in their 38 English Premier League matches and Peter Crouch was their divisional top scorer at the age of 36.
Stoke won only one of its 24 English Premier League games last season in which it encountered a team that ended the campaign higher up the ladder – the Potters won 1-0 at eighth-ranked Southampton. Stoke preserved its English Premier League status by beating each of the seven sides that finished below it at the Bet365 Stadium as well as earning 10 points on the road to those seven teams. One remarked on numerous occasions during last term that Stoke’s English Premier League placing was somewhat misleading and that the Potters would not stay inside the top 10. One was right and Stoke ended up just four points ahead of Burnley and Watford, which finished 16th and 17th respectively.
The English Premier League fixture computer has been tough on Stoke and, in particular, Hughes. Stoke’s English Premier League program will start versus Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday 12 August, followed by Arsenal (home), West Bromwich (away), Manchester United (home), Newcastle (away), Chelsea (home), Southampton (home) and Manchester City (away) before the middle of October. As it stands today, Stoke would be the favourite for only one of those eight English Premier League clashes and one would not back the Potters to justify favouritism at home to Southampton.
The around-the-clock English Premier League media cycle means that sides that get off to a bad start are under pressure straight away and Hughes does not have a lot of credit left in the bank. Stoke’s owners, the Coates family of Bet365 fame, have not rushed to jettison bosses in the past but Hughes has had more than four years at the helm of the Potters and one is sure that their attention to detail, especially in the field of numbers, will mean that they are accurately aware of the data that one has cited above.
One could make an English Premier League sack race case for the likes of Slaven Bilic, Craig Shakespeare and Tony Pulis but Hughes is on thinner ice than every other manager in the division and he really ought to be the market leader.
Mark Hughes to be the first manager to leave his post
Premier League 2017/18 season