Manchester, England – Manchester United’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday was billed as the last-ditch living room for United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but he ended up being the number opposite Nuno Espirito Santo who was kicked out of the swinging doors on Monday.
Antonio Conte – the former Juventus and Chelsea manager who was reportedly set to take over from Solskjaer at United – is now the favorite to be Spurs’ new boss.
Solskjaer, who in the days leading up to the match had been sacked as unable to build a squad, motivate a squad and have the required tactical skills, drastically altered his squad’s roster and approach and claimed a 3 victory -0 brilliant in North London.
Nuno is the second Portuguese manager to be fired this year by Spurs after sacking three-time Premier League winner Jose Mourinho in April. To ease the pain, the two will have nice wins, negotiated by the agent they share, Jorge Mendes.
The days of English football collectively shaking their heads over reports of Serie A or La Liga coach dismissals after a few poor results are long gone. Indeed, when it comes to instinctive decisions, media hysteria and absurd expectations, the Premier League is now the world leader.
Tottenham were appalling against United, but just two months ago Nuno received the Manager of the Month award for August after starting his time at the club with three consecutive wins.
Nuno had to deal with the destabilizing impact of Harry Kane’s attempt to leave the club during the offseason, a situation in which he had no role or influence.
Kane wanted to join Manchester City but Spurs refused to sell him and he has only managed one goal and a few quality moments in his nine games so far.
The team have seemed soulless and directionless in recent weeks, but their position in the league is close to what most realistic preseason expectations would have been – eighth in the standings, five points behind the top four.
Despite the drama that followed Spurs’ humiliating 5-0 home loss to Liverpool, Manchester United will head to Saturday’s Manchester Derby knowing that a win would put them on a level playing field with Pep Guardiola’s City.
And yet a loss would almost certainly result in a reminder of repeated calls for Solskjaer’s replacement on social media where some fans spend hours campaigning for managers to be sacked.
The state of the ‘debate’ around Premier League managers is such that a victory is seen as ‘a turnaround’ and a defeat means the ship is sinking.
The fact that the Premier League’s longest-serving manager is Sean Dyche, who celebrated his ninth year with eternal fighter Burnley this weekend, shows that it’s the expectation that drives much of the impatience. .
Burnley is waiting for little more than a battle for survival, so Dyche maintains the support of fans and owners alike through frequent winless streaks.
But among clubs with much higher expectations, the long-range planning and patience it takes are much rarer to find.
Spaniard Mikel Arteta, currently hailed for bringing Arsenal up to sixth – level with 17 points with United – has faced repeated calls for his dismissal over the past year as the club tried to break through a path to the top four.
Steve Bruce, who guided a weak Newcastle United side in the 12th and 13th, was sacked last month after suffering harsh criticism from supporters of the club now fantasizing about Champions League football under their new owners saudis.
Guardiola, who has often defended his protégé Arteta, noted last week that “it’s been like this for centuries and it won’t change. Society wants a guy responsible for the good and especially the bad things.
But English football hasn’t always been like this.
Famous Alex Ferguson survived calls for his lead at Manchester United after an eight-game winless streak in 1990, before winning 13 Premier League titles.
Keith Burkinshaw even saw his Tottenham side relegated from the elite in 1977, but kept his job and won a promotion, two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup and became the club’s second-most successful manager.
It is sadly fanciful to imagine English football returning to these levels of patience, but perhaps the eventual success of Solskjaer or Arteta could give some owners a chance to take a break when the chants begin.
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