Before Transfers, scramble for new managers
Before the scramble to sign players in the January transfer window, there's a rush to fill managerial vacancies.
Three clubs are making changes in the midst of the English Premier League season's busiest period, with all 20 teams in action tomorrow for the third time in a week.
It had been a rare period of stability - the Premier League reached Christmas without a managerial casualty for the first time since 1995 - until Neil Warnock was fired by Crystal Palace on Saturday.
With Palace in the relegation zone, that dismissal seemed to be only a matter of time. Perhaps more surprising is Alan Pardew swapping mid-table mediocrity at Newcastle for a relegation scrap at Palace, with the manager in negotiations yesterday to rejoin the club he played for in the 1980s.
It is likely to create an unexpected vacancy at Newcastle. And the northeast club is searching for a candidate in the same managerial talent pool as West Bromwich Albion, which fired Alan Irvine on Monday after only six months in charge.
"If you don't get results, then clubs change managers now more regularly than they did before," said West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, whose team hosts West Brom on New Year's Day. "When it comes up to a transfer window as well, it looks like it has a major effect on owners.
"The manager may have proposed some players to bring in during the window and they may have taken the opinion that they would rather give that opportunity to a new manager. It seems that might be the case."
Like Pardew at St James' Park, Allardyce faced calls from his own fans in the last year to quit. Not only could Newcastle fans see the back of Pardew, but the club could also receive more than $3 million in compensation from Palace if a deal can be done. However, owner Mike Ashley seems unlikely to spend on reinforcements in January for the 10th-place team.
Allardyce would succeed Pardew as the Premier League's second longest-serving current manager. The determination by West Ham's owners to stick by the manger they appointed in 2011 has been rewarded by Allardyce taking the team into the second half of the season in sixth place.
Stability doesn't necessarily equal success. There is weariness among some Arsenal fans over the durability of Arsene Wenger, the league's longest-serving current manager at 16 years-plus, over his failure to deliver the title since 2004. Wenger, though, will restore Arsenal to their accustomed place in the top four at Southampton's expense by beating the surprisingly high-flying south-coast club tomorrow.
Here are some other things to watch:
Chelsea have Manchester City's implosion against Burnley to thank for maintaining their three-point lead. City's surprise draw came after Chelsea were held by Southampton on Sunday, providing a reminder that the destination of the trophy is far from certain.
Chelsea are reunited with Tottenham at White Hart Lane less than a month after sweeping to a 3-0 victory at home. Since then, Tottenham have gone five games unbeaten domestically, including Sunday's 0-0 draw against Manchester United.