Who will still have his job in two weeks' time?

In November chairmen look at League positions and work out how much relegation will cost, so managers are in the firing line

It is the race that nobody wants to win, so Nigel Adkins will not have been disappointed to see Mark Hughes inching ahead of him in the bookmakers' list as the first Premier League manager to be sacked this season. Yet a resounding first win of the season for Queens Park Rangers at home to fellow strugglers Reading today and the odds will change again – for Reading's Brian McDermott too – ahead of Southampton's visit to West Bromwich Albion tomorrow.

November is the cruellest month for such unhappy souls, when chairmen take to studying the League table with increasing concern, calculating how much money relegation will cost and whether they can trust the present incumbent to spend however much is available in the January transfer window. In recent years the shockingly early dismissals of past seasons have abated; but it will not have escaped Adkins's notice that one of the worst examples was perpetrated by Southampton, who two years ago sacked Alan Pardew before the end of August.

Like Hughes at Queens Park Rangers under the Malaysian owner/chairman Tony Fernandes, and McDermott with the young Russian Anton Zingarevich, Adkins is working for ambitious foreign owners. In his favour is having secured successive promotions for the club since Nicola Cortese was put in as the representative of the late owner Markus Liebherr. As well as those successful campaigns and two promotions with Scunthorpe, this is the third season that Adkins has been down at the wrong end of the table.

He was relegated once with the Lincolnshire club, but also won one of those struggles by keeping them in the Championship on the division's smallest budget and lowest crowds. He knows the score, in every sense.

"We are working very hard behind the scenes, but even before we kicked a football this season, I was the favourite to get the sack," he says. "So it doesn't faze me one iota. I am very ambitious, and we are very ambitious here at Southampton. But what will be in football will be, so we will take it from there. We will keep to our beliefs and stick at it. My take on it is that the supporters and the players are still with us, and I am with them."

Facing both Manchester clubs and Arsenal in their opening four games left no one at the club under any illusions about the task this season. The disappointment was losing the other game, at home to Wigan, and then, after beating Aston Villa, taking only one point out of the next 12 available.

But Adkins insists: "I love the challenge. This is what you want to be in football for. You can hide away or face up to it, but I am loving being in this situation."

Inevitably there has been talk of another figure waiting in the wings; not so much Harry Redknapp along the South Coast at Poole but Alan Shearer, for whom one route back into management was derailed last week by Blackburn appointing Henning Berg. At The Hawthorns tomorrow Adkins will doubtless find sympathy from Steve Clarke, who in his first season of management was widely tipped to struggle against relegation and the sack; the only question for some pundits and odds-layers being which would come first. Yet Albion go into the game in the top half of the table on the back of four fine home wins. For all Clarke's success so far in his first job, experience is always believed to count for something, which is why Hughes is being backed to come through in some quarters despite deeply unimpressive statistics: the same number of points per game as Neil Warnock, whom he replaced, and QPR's worst start since 1968, when they went on to finish bottom.

Fernandes sacked Warnock in January but appears genuine in his backing for the present incumbent: "Mark's a good manager, as I keep saying. You can't really blame Mark for the position we're in. Fans will talk about selection and such things but we're a vastly more consistent team than we were.

"I'm an old-fashioned guy that believes in stability and giving people time. QPR do not need managers being changed every few months. It's going to achieve nothing."

Such votes of confidence generally count for little. But McDermott, as manager of the only other Premier League side without a win, and Adkins, stuck in between the other two stragglers and strugglers, would doubtless rather hear one than not. The clock is ticking and the calendar is turning.

Queens Park Rangers v Reading is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 1.30pm; West Bromwich Albion v Southampton is on Sky Sports 1 tomorrow, kick-off 8pm

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
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?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
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
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
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
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

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