Hart takes pole position to lose the sack race

Will all the top-flight's managers hang on into October? Mark Fleming reports on the pressures mounting for those in the firing line

The macabre betting on which manager will be first to get the sack in the Premier League this season has gone into overdrive this week. Ranting supporters in Hull have been calling for the head of manager Phil Brown; fans at pointless Portsmouth have lost faith in Paul Hart; and Gary Megson at Bolton has been on the receiving end of more vitriolic abuse at the Reebok.

The trio face tough matches this weekend, so the sack may only be a few days away for one of them. And history is heavily stacked against them. Only three times in the last 11 Premier League seasons have we entered October without at least one managerial casualty in the top flight. Last year Alan Curbishley left West Ham on 3 September; the season before Jose Mourinho was turfed out of Chelsea on 20 September.

Hart is at greatest peril, with Portsmouth firmly rooted to the foot of the Premier League without a single point. The chances of them ending that run at home to Everton look remote, while speculation mounted yesterday that the club's chief executive, Peter Storrie, is about to resign. He is said to be on the verge of walking out after admitting to having difficulty working alongside the club's new owner, Sulaiman al-Fahim.

The Arab businessman was due to hold a meeting with fans yesterday, but cancelled it at 24 hours' notice because he was "concerned the coverage generated will distract the players from their preparations for Saturday's crucial game".

Hart is clearly feeling the heat, snapping at reporters in a pre-match press conference: "What are you asking for, a fourth vote of confidence in three weeks? Whatever supporters are feeling, magnify that by one million and you'll get to where we at the club are."

He may yet survive even if Portsmouth lose today, as the financial repercussions of sacking him could damage the penniless club. But defeat to Wolves in a week's time would probably seal his fate.

Over at Hull, Brown has four games to turn it around, so some observers say. Others reckon six. It is all a far cry from a year ago this weekend when he was masterminding the club's historic 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Now he has chairman, Phil Duffen, going on local radio to voice his unequivocal support for his manager after Hull's 4-0 home defeat to Everton in the Carling Cup on Wednesday. Duffen told BBC Radio Humberside: "I would say it's pathetic. The Premier League season is only six games old. This is a manager and coaching staff that have delivered this football to the city. It's despicable."

Brown was defiant after the midweek humiliation, saying: "Everybody is expecting us to go out of this division because of the second- season syndrome. It is about rolling the sleeves up now and fighting even harder.

"Hopefully, whatever team I pick at Liverpool [today] will respond in the right manner. Nobody likes being in the bottom three, but we have a job to do that is a long-term plan. That long-term plan is six games in. We have got a long way to go."

After Saturday's trip to Liverpool, Hull then face a crucial October as they meet Wigan, Fulham, Portsmouth and Burnley in more winnable games.

Megson takes his Bolton side to Birmingham today, grateful for the blessed relief of a midweek victory over West Ham in the Carling Cup.

The Bolton manager is confident he will survive this latest test of his management. "The spirit in the dressing room is good," he said. "Only we seem to know that in the last five games we have won three, drawn one and lost one, and that was against Liverpool with 10 men. There are one or two other football clubs who would swap with us at the moment."

First out the door: Recent seasons

*3 September 2008

Alan Curbishley West Ham (resigned)

*20 September 2007

Jose Mourinho Chelsea (mutual consent)

*13 November 2006

Iain Dowie Charlton Athletic (sacked)

*24 November 2005

Alain Perrin Portsmouth (sacked)

*23 August 2004

Paul Sturrock Southampton (mutual consent)

*21 September 2003

Glenn Hoddle Tottenham (sacked)

*7 October 2002

Peter Reid Sunderland (sacked)

*30 September 2001

Peter Taylor Leicester City (sacked)

*12 September 2000

Gianluca Vialli Chelsea (sacked)

Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridgeface-off in the final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas