The Longshot: Managerial rotation would leave your head spinning as axes continue to fall

The Longshot: Managerial rotation would leave your head spinning as axes continue to fall

Recently departed Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch is money-on to become Southampton’s third boss this season.

DESPITE all the accusations being aimed at Man City in recent weeks, they remain the standout favourites at 2/1 to lift a maiden Champions League this May.

Barcelona may have won it twice under Pep Guardiola, but he failed to do so during three seasons with a crack Munich outfit, and seems to be running into the same quicksand with City. They somehow managed to throw away a 5-3 lead entering extra time in last year’s semi with Real Madrid, a year after being downed by Chelsea in a decider.

They will have to wait until next week to restart their campaign against RB Leipzig. But tomorrow evening they can edge ahead of Arsenal on goal difference in the Premier League with a win at the Emirates, albeit the Gunners would have two games in hand. Both can now be backed at 11/10 to lift the title, but the home side are offered at a best price of 2/1 tomorrow at home, while the visitors are 6/4 and the draw 13/5.

Arsenal had understandable grievances about the equaliser Brentford got and the subsequent VAR check on Saturday, but the West London side were value for the draw over the 90 minutes, which should be of more concern to Mikel Arteta as his side endure their first mini-slump of the season.

Man City could be without Erling Haaland for the clash, although Pep Guardiola does not seem to be too fussed to be without the man who has already scored 31 goals in all competitions this season (he has five so far in the champions League and is 13/8 to be the top scorer in that competition).

With his strong reaction to accusations of financial wrongdoing by City, Pep has shot out to 20/1 from 7/2 to be the next manager to leave his post (having claimed he would leave the next day if the City accountants had hoodwinked him).

Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil is now the 6/4 favourite to become the 10th boss to up sticks this season. If he goes it would mean the Cherries would join Southampton on three managers this season after Scott Parker didn’t last through August on the south coast.

It must be the sea air as Nathan Jones got a little over three months at 14 games at the Saints.

Jones has now departed Luton Town twice after positive stints at Kenilworth Road, only to crash and burn quickly when stepping up to bigger challenges. Perhaps a return to the Hatters in some capacity could be on the cards as they push for an unlikely return to the top flight via the Championship playoffs.

Jones was sold a bit of a pup when he joined St Mary’s and it's unlikely anything the workaholic devout Christian could do would have worked the miracle there. Losing to 10-man Wolves after going 1-0 up was the final straw however.

Two of those already-sacked bosses are favourites to get back on the merry-go-round.

Jesse Marsch has barely packed up his desk at Elland Road has been installed as the 1/3 favourite to take over from Jones.

Former Aston Villa boss and Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is next at 8/1, while the man who was in charge of the Saints at the beginning of the season, Ralph Hasenhuttl, is 16/1 to be reinstated.

In the 2021-22 season, 10 managers were sacked in the Premier League, including Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Roy Hodgson, Marcelo Bielsa and Sean Dyche and it is likely to surpass that this year. You’d get dizzy from it if you thought too much about it.

PSG will need to make home rule count in Munich clash

MAN CITY are not alone among the more fancied sides to be running into troubles on and off the pitch.

Second and third favourites Bayern (6/1) and PSG (7/1) meet tonight and both are in peculiar form since the World Cup.

The Bavarians returned from the winter break with three consecutive 1-1 draws, and while a sense of normality has been restored in recent weeks as they’ve edged ahead of supporter-owned FC Union Berlin by a point in the Bundesliga, they are still without Sadio Mane to lead their attack.

Bayern made light work of a tricky group that included Barcelona and Inter Milan- as they progressed to the knockout rounds without dropping a single point, and they now have the chance to win their first seven games of a Champions League campaign for just the second time, after previously doing so in the 2019-20 season. The now 10-times-in-a-row German champions (how boring is that?) usually fare well at this stage of the competition too, having progressed from the last-16 in nine of the last 10 seasons, including their last three campaigns.

PSG, like City, are trying to add a continental garland to their domestic dominance for their Gulf overlords. The Parisians have lost two straight games coming into a home fixture against the side that defeated them in the 2020 final and knocked them out in the quarters the following year.

They have just one clean sheet in Ligue 1 (at home to bottom side Angers) since Mbappe (a slight injury doubt) and Messi returned from their epic tussle in Doha.

PSG would have hoped to have faced a slightly easier opponent in the last-16, but despite finishing level on 14 points with Benfica, they had to settle for second place as they lost out to the Portuguese giants on away goals scored in the dying embers of the group stages.

If the French champions are to avoid a second straight last-16 exit — they were beaten by eventual winners Real Madrid at this stage last season — they will need to make the most of home advantage and they have won 12 and drawn three of their 15 home games this season.

Of the other six teams in action tonight and tomorrow — Milan v Spurs, Dortmund v Chelsea and Brugge v Benfica — it is hard to see a bolter from them.

Spurs — who qualified as group winners — take on the Serie A champions, who are 6/4 to win the first leg with Spurs 4/5 to qualify following two legs. Antonio Conte knows this San Siro well as he won the title with Inter there in 2020/21. His old side Chelsea travel to Dortmund for their first leg tomorrow and though they are favourites to advance (4/6) it is difficult to have much confidence in Chelsea, as their difficulties under Graham Potter continue.

Club Brugge v Benfica is the other first leg that takes place and the Portuguese side are firm favourites to overcome the Belgians on the night and across the two legs (2/7).

Ireland feeling the love now

WOOHOO! It’s Valentine’s Day, when between 3pm and 5pm restaurants and florists receive a thousandfold spike in (panicked) phone calls.

The Romans are responsible for the date being celebrated because apparently Emperor Claudius II executed two, or possibly three, men named Valentinus/o on this date back in the day. From February 13 to 15, the Romans used to celebrate the feast of Lupercalia, when men sacrificed a goat and then whipped women who they’d drawn in a lottery with the hides of the animal they’d just slain — an early version of a slap-up meal. 

It’s been my plan for years to surprise the wife with a romantic trip to Paris around this time of the year and then mention on the plane that Ireland are also playing at Stade de France that weekend and that, looky here, we’ve got tickets! Maybe next year.

Ireland are now 1/4 to win the Six Nations and 4/6 to complete a Grand Slam for the third time since 2009 after beating Les Bleus on Saturday. They are also 4/1 to win the World Cup, while hosts France have slipped to 3/1 to join the All blacks in that market.

Beginning again for Tiger at Genesis

TIGER WOODS returns to competitive golf the first time since the Open at St Andrew’s last summer this week. It will be his first appearance on the PGA Tour since October 2020.

The 15-time major winner has struggled with injuries relating to a serious car crash in which he was involved in February, 2021.

This will be the strongest field in golf this year with 23 of the world’s top 25 players, including new World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy (both 10/1) and Jon Rahm (15/2). None of these three have won or finished runner up so looking elsewhere might be wiser. Defending champ Joaquin Niemann and fellow LIV leaper Cam Smith are the only two top-25 not participating.

Take a punt on Justin Thomas who was just a stroke off the lead here in 2019 at 18/1.

The Bet 

NOT everything we’ve typed since the beginning of last September has made a whole pile of sense, but at least two of the big calls have come to pass with Argentina winning the World Cup and now the Kansas City Chiefs taking the Super Bowl.

We were slightly disappointed that the flyover of fighter jets just prior to kick-off didn’t feature any balloons being gunned down, but there was at least the sight of Rihanna at the half-time show, spotted in the middle of a field for the first time since ordered out of one by a DUP alderman outside Bangor a dozen years ago because he thought her clothes were too skimpy (look it up if you don’t believe me).

Let’s take a high-priced accumulator to celebrate: Milan, Benfica, and two draws in the Champions League will net you 63/1.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130


Read all about the monthly winner’s and more.
Click Here


Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more