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)

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam