Wednesday’s Football Focus


Tony Pulis’s departure from Stoke City has triggered yet more action in the Premier League Managers betting market with Mark Hughes installed by Coral as 3/1 favourite in front of Rafa Benitez (4/1) and Robert di Matteo (5/1).

But these things can change in the blink of an eye. Just look at Everton. Roberto Martinez was the hot pick when it was announced that David Moyes would be moving to Old Trafford, but then there were strong vibes for Neil Lennon, Alan Stubbs and Phil Neville before Vitor Pereira suddenly became all the rage yesterday, so much so that he is now Coral’s 5/2 favourite after trading at 12/1 yesterday.

Pereira, the 44-year-old Porto boss, has been on and off the radar for the Everton job since it became vacant. He has a lower profile than compatriots Jose Mourinho (who hasn’t?) and Andres Villas-Boas, but speaks English fluently, has bags of tactical nous and an impressive managerial record.

Back to Stoke and one imagines that this is another market that might be shaken up over the coming days. Pulis is the tenth Premier League manager to be replaced in the past year and his dismissal has prompted winger Matthew Etherington to warn fans to “be careful what you wish for.”

Etherington cited the misfortunes of Charlton after Alan Curbishley was forced out and the Stoke scenario is not dissimilar with fans becoming discontent with the style of football that elevated Stoke to a position well above their station before Pulis arrived (for the second time) in 2006. Significantly, Coral rate Stoke at no higher than 3/1 for the drop next year.

But there are two ways of looking at this – year after year of finishing mid-table or worse doesn’t exactly stir the blood, even if it’s deemed an overachievement – and you can’t blame Stoke fans, or any fans, for wanting more.

For a more recent and even more spectacular example than Charlton of how things can go wrong when a manager is sacked, just look at Wolves, now floundering in League One following two successive relegations.

They’re on the lookout for a new manager, too, and here Coral go a best-price 2/1 Crewe boss Steve Davies ahead Kenny Jackett (4/1) and Steve McLaren (6/1).

And finally, a word on Mourinho. Everybody is assuming that his move to Chelsea is a done deal and that Manchester City will shortly appoint Manuel Pellegrini. That might well be so, but the market suggests that the Portuguese is still not out of the running for the Etihad post. Does Mourinho have another trick up his sleeve?

Written by Jon Freeman


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