Steve Bruce seems likely to leave Newcastle United by the summer, but he might not be the next Premier League manager to leave their club.
Newcastle have slowly descended into trouble, with 3 draws and 3 defeats since striker Callum Wilson got injured in early February, before the March international break.
Those results included a goalless draw at West Bromwich Albion, long rooted in the bottom 3 and, uncomfortably, a 3-0 loss at relegation rivals Brighton.
That sequence makes Bruce highly susceptible to the axe and Newcastle fans have increasingly turned against him, having never been desperately behind him.
However Magpies’ owner Mike Ashley has said that Bruce will remain in his job and could stay next season too, even if the club goes down.
Newcastle have wilted, but they’ve also suffered without Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin, plus the effects of Covid on key players, including influential skipper Jamaal Lascelles.
Newcastle can feel reasonably confident that Wilson and Saint-Maximin will bring enough bounce from remaining games to edge Newcastle to safety come the final league table.
If it’s likely that Sheffield United and West Brom will not survive the bottom 2, it’s less clear who’ll go down with them and how that could affect the next Premier League manager to go.
Leaving your club usually follows getting sacked, but not always. There can be various reasons for exits. Sometimes a coach is hot property, sometimes a coach has just taken a club as far as he can.
Fulham and Brighton are deep in the mix to avoid the final relegation place, but both Scott Parker and Graham Potter are impressive and well admired in the game. Either could move on this summer to better gigs, regardless of relegation outcomes.
If Fulham stay up, Parker will be vindicated and validated. He steered Fulham to promotion from the Championship last season, so he wouldn’t need to do that again if they went down.
Survival for Fulham would be a huge achievement, having been wedged in trouble for so long and Parker could build momentum next season.
Smart money could even be on Parker to take over at Tottenham, should Jose Mourinho leave, although a huge pay-out probably rules out Jose from an exit anytime soon.
Potter would be equally validated if Brighton survive, although you could argue that Brighton shouldn’t be in this mess as an existing Premier League club.
If hot properties like Parker and Potter are unlikely to move until the summer, other coaches that could yet rival Bruce for the next exit include those who opt to move on.
Resignations are rare in football, as managers fight to the bitter end for their payoffs once fired, but sometimes people leave for a new challenge, or even just a break.
Sean Dyche has led Burnley through 2 promotions and a relegation since he took charge in 2012. He feels part of the Clarets’ furniture and looks sure to steer them to safety once again, but management can take its toll, especially in the Covid environment.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has experience startling ups and downs at Southampton, from 2 shattering 9-0 defeats in consecutive seasons, to a spell at the top of the Premier League.
The Saints might yet win the FA Cup this season, yet on the other hand they lost 10 of 12 league games heading into the March international break, with their 1 win being at Sheffield United, the league’s bottom club.
Reasonable remaining fixtures should see Southampton achieve safety with decent breathing space, regardless of how the FA Cup transpires. The Saints and Hasenhuttl may remain happy to tackle challenges ahead together.
Equally, either party might feel that too many deep dark periods make change necessary, with the potential for an early announcement once safety is secured.
Roy Hodgson has saved Crystal Palace from relegation every season since he arrived in September 2017, with some seasons closer shaves than others.
Hodgson is a master of maximising Palace’s talents but, at 74 this August, a time will come when he opts to retire. If that were to be this summer, an announcement could come early, once Palace secure their safety again.
So while much of the media eyes Steve Bruce as the next Premier League manager to leave, there are clearly several other contenders to leave before him – plus one more.
Sam Allardyce took over at West Brom in December 2020, with the infamous record of never having led a club to relegation. He will have expected to save the Baggies, not wreck that reputation.
West Brom has so far been a chastening exercise for Big Sam, with barely a hint of survival in sight at any stage.
The Baggies quickly went on a run of getting battered at home after Sam arrived, losing 3-0 to Aston Villa, 5-1 to Leeds, 4-0 to Arsenal and 5-0 to Man City. It’s very hard to lose that badly that often and stay up.
If West Brom cannot survive, the big question has to be will Allardyce want to be in charge when they go down? Will Allardyce want a relegation on his record, to ruin his reputation, if he can avoid it by leaving before it happens?
If Allardyce took over at the Hawthorns with the intention to keep them up, bag the survival bonus and then leave, would he want to oversee a relegation? Would he want to stay on next season, in the Championship, to rebuild a promotion challenge?
West Brom wanted survival, so at the very least they’ll need a plan ahead. An early departure for Allardyce would technically keep his relegation record intact, with key damage neatly apportioned to before he arrived, to allow West Brom to appoint a long-term successor.
The next Premier League manager to leave might not be Steve Bruce getting sacked, or the likes of Parker, Potter, Dyche, Hasenhuttl or Hodgson moving on, but when Sam Allardyce steps down once West Brom’s fate draws close.