Analysis: Fulham manager Martin Jol has most to fear in this Premier League season of sackings

You have to be an expert if you are in the bottom few to keep teams up

Premier League managers beware: the sacking season is fast approaching. Those who believe there is no such thing and that a chairman’s knife can be wielded at any time of year may be surprised to learn that Paolo Di Canio’s dismissal by Sunderland and Ian Holloway’s resignation at Crystal Palace before British Summer Time ended were early exceptions to the normal rule.

In fact, there are three main sacking “windows”. The first begins towards the end of November and lasts until midway through January, allowing the new man to buy a player or two. March then brings a brief panic, before the main changeover period each summer.

Last year there were three November-January casualties (at Chelsea, Queen’s Park Rangers and Southampton), after two, three and four respectively in the previous seasons. Now that the bottom two clubs have already made a change, it is those immediately above them where the incumbent must bite the bullet rather than face one.

Fulham’s Martin Jol is the bookmakers’ odds-on favourite to be next man out, ahead of Norwich’s Chris Hughton. Both teams – and managers – have suffered a run of fixtures against the leading clubs, which in Norwich’s case came to an end on Saturday with a home game against West Ham that they succeeded in turning round after deservedly trailing 1-0 at half-time.

Jol must hope for a similar break, having seen his team beaten 3-1 by Manchester United and 4-0 at Liverpool, where their performance was limp in the extreme. After the United game, the affable Dutchman claimed that there were “six or seven” worse teams than his, but Fulham supporters who travelled to Anfield must feel they would struggle to name that many.

Jol’s argument against a change of manager is that “I think you have to be an expert if you are in the bottom four or five to keep teams up and I don’t think there are a lot of experts”. For two seasons he has done that comfortably, finishing ninth and 12th, but to save him – if it is not already too late – Fulham must win games against the weaker teams. Swansea visit Craven Cottage on Saturday week, after which there is a trip to West Ham. Jol has a new owner in the American Shahid Khan, who has so far preached not rushing into things; he has time now to consider them and may soon decide that decline has gone too far.

Norwich, under the benign ownership of Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones, are not essentially a sacking club and there will be pleasure far beyond Norfolk if Hughton comes through unscathed. He had been particularly unfortunate in a crop of fixtures bringing heavy defeats by Arsenal, Chelsea and both Manchester clubs, and the concern was that the players’ attitude in losing 7-0 at Manchester City nine days ago was as poor as Fulham’s on Saturday.

Norwich had also failed to beat (or even score a goal against) Hull City, Aston Villa and Cardiff City, so going in at half-time a goal down at home to West Ham amid some instinctive booing from their home crowd felt like a potential tipping point. In the second half, however, the team responded to their manager’s demand for greater urgency and physical pressing of the West Ham midfield, producing what he called “a very, very good reaction”.

Crucial breaks – easily underestimated amid all the technical analysis – went their way too and by Saturday night there were five teams, including West Ham (where Sam Allardyce is not a popular figure), below them in the table.

“You don’t veer from the things you do week in and week out, and you have to have a belief that that’s going to see you OK,” Hughton said. “If we’re talking about pressure I’m under, then big teams in the top five or six have to take that pressure as well. The  way the game is now you’re putting more into each performance and the defeats don’t get any easier.”

Jol will be feeling that today, as will Cardiff’s Malky Mackay, who faces extra difficulties in the unpredictability of the club’s owner, Vincent Tan. After the highly regarded Iain Moody, dismissed by Tan, was appointed as sporting director  by Crystal Palace this weekend, it was inevitable that Mackay would be asked about following him to the managerless south London club. “I’m proud to be the Cardiff City manager,” was his diplomatic response following the 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa.

The former Real Madrid defender Aitor Karanka, who comes with a glowing reference from Jose Mourinho, is on Palace’s shortlist, although the caretaker Keith Millen believes the job should go to someone with Premier League experience.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
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

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little