Saints boss early favourite to be first casualty of 2012/13

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Nigel Adkins saw his odds to be the first manager relieved of his duties drop into 4/1 with Ladbrokes days before the season gets under way.

Despite achieving successive promotions and steering Southampton back into the top flight after a seven year hiatus, it is expected the board will not be shy in wielding the axe should the threat of relegation grow in seriousness.

Their squad lacks any substantial Premier League experience and, worryingly for Saints fans, they are yet to bolster their ranks with a centre half.

This should have been one of Adkins’ primary concerns following a Championship campaign where Jose Fonte and Joos Hooiveld were often exposed as the team’s weak links.

The pair’s lives were made easier through the conservative tactics opposing teams were bullied into employing due to the goal threat posed by Rickie Lambert and co at the other end of the pitch.

Saint’s front men won’t be considered as daunting a prospect for Premier League defences, however, so they can expect to struggle at the back without massive improvement.

Sam Allardyce, whose odds have drifted to 6/1, has adopted an alternative approach in his recruitment policy this pre-season.

Acquiring individuals such as Jussi Jaaskelainen, Mohamed Diame and James Collins, players well-rehearsed in the rigours of the Premier League, shows sound logic on Allardyce’s behalf as he gears up for another battle for top flight survival.

The fixture list has been kind to the Hammers, presenting them with five winnable games to begin the season, including three home ties.

Big Sam will have earmarked some early season points here and, should his charges do the business on the pitch, it would take a typically outrageous move from David’s Gold and Sullivan to make him the first Premier League manager of 2012/13 jobless.

Steve Clarke, West Brom’s newly appointed boss, could be a good bet for the chop at 6/1.

The Scot has a wealth of experience coaching alongside many managers of abilities ranging from awful to awesome but this will be the first time he will sample the temperature of the managerial hot seat for himself.

He’s got a big act to follow on from with his predecessor’s great work landing him the England job and, although his squad is well balanced, it is very similar to the one that Roberto Di Matteo almost got relegated two seasons ago.

If results are less than satisfactory, it’s easy to envisage the Baggies board hitting the panic button and giving Clarke the boot, much like Bolton did when perennial assistant coach Sammy Lee was handed the chance to fly solo – a spell which lasted 11 games.

With games against Liverpool, Spurs and Everton to kick the campaign off, Clarke could find the pressure mounting from an early stage this term.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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