As Jose Mourinho exits Manchester United, which Premier League manager is next to leave?
Manchester United pulled the trigger on Mourinho's time at the club after defeat to Liverpool
The wait went on for some time for Manchester United fans. Not for the Premier League title - that is unlikely to be arriving any time soon – but for when Jose Mourinho was finally cast aside as their club's manager.
We all knew how he had a history of departing clubs without staying more than three years, and now he has left in his third season again, a season that continued to crumble around him culminating in Sunday's 3-1 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.
Three Premier League managers have now departed this season – Slavisa Jokanovic from Fulham and Mark Hughes from Southampton. And now Mourinho. Who will be the next to depart?
Here's a look at who we think is safe and who else is on the cusp of moving on:
Safe from the sack
It isn't just a case of whoever is near the top of the table is safe – there's more context to it than that.
But beyond Mourinho's struggles at Old Trafford, the other clubs in the 'Big Six' are all in a relative state of calm.
Pep Guardiola has helped to transform Manchester City into a winning machine and will likely be a title winner again come the end of the season. Jurgen Klopp has masterminded a resurgent Liverpool, while it is still relatively early days for Arsenal and Chelsea with Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri respectively.
Both have fallen behind Liverpool and City in the title race and there could be a fierce battle for a top four place come May. Arsenal fans are used to treading water during the past few seasons and Champions League qualification will felt as a success. They have at least brought some excitement back to the Emirates Stadium and went 23 games unbeaten until defeat to Southampton at the weekend.
Sarri meanwhile has overhauled Chelsea's style of play but recent defeats to Tottenham and Wolverhampton Wanderers have led to questions over his tactics and especially his use of N'Golo Kante away from what is regarded as his best position at the base of midfield. A top-four finish and place in the final of the Europa League will be needed to quell any uncertainty over his tenure.
And then there's the untouchable Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham. Sought after by Europe's top clubs, he won't be going anywhere unless he walks out.
Further down the league there's Bournemouth's Eddie Howe who has been in charge of The Cherries since 2012 and, as long as they stay in the Premier League, could have the job for life. The same goes for Chris Hughton at Brighton having got them promoted and kept them up. They are currently 13th.
Settled but not untouchable
Wolves are seventh having retained the momentum from their promotion campaign under Nuno Espirito Santo. Expectations are sky-high however, with owners Fosun International eyeing the Premier League title by 2025. Any sudden drop in form and Santo could be clinging on.
Manuel Pellegrini has overcome a difficult start at West Ham, Marco Silva has created a potentially decent team at Everton while Javi Gracia has Watford sitting mid-table, though their managerial merry-go-round is never far from spinning again.
It may come as a surprise looking at the table, but David Wagner at Huddersfield and Sean Dyche at Burnley (both in the bottom three) would probably be allowed to stay on should they be relegated – based on their previous efforts which have included getting their clubs promoted.
Roy Hodgson keeps Crystal Palace ticking over without them ever looking like a top 10 side, while Neil Warnock has guided Cardiff out of the bottom three and is another promotion specialist should their season cave in.
Touching up their CV
It may sound premature, but should Fulham remain rooted to the bottom of the table how long will they persevere with Claudio Ranieri? They have won one of his first five matches in charge and are still leaking goals. If they remain at the foot of the table come March, they could try one final roll of the dice. And does Ranieri, a Premier League winner with Leicester City, want a relegation on his CV as well?
Rafa Benitez, manager of the month for November, has a big reputation, a big trophy haul including the Champions League and is managing a club with a big stadium and fan base. Sadly for him, he doesn't have a big transfer budget and therefore the best Newcastle can expect is Premier League survival. Benitez won't be sacked, but could walk away such is the frustration on Tyneside at the lack of financial backing.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has enjoyed a spirited start at Southampton after their dramatic victory over Arsenal. But he faces a tough task in avoiding relegation and managers don't last long at Southampton these days – Claude Puel, Mauricio Pellegrino and Mark Hughes have all come and gone in the past two years. Will Hasenhuttl break the mould?
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Updated: December 21, 2018 10:25 AM