Tony Pulis’ sacking by the Stoke City board has left the club as a 5/2 shot to be relegated from the Premier League next season.
While some may question the sagacity of this decision, the truth is there had been unrest at the Britannia for some months, with many thinking Pulis had taken the club as far as he could.
The Welshman garnered much praise for the way he lifted the club into the English top flight, and, initially, for his efforts in maintaining that status.
However, only Chelsea and Manchester City have spent more in terms of net spend than Stoke since the Potters’ introduction into the Premier League. Pulis’ side scored just 34 league goals this season, and finished up just six points above the relegation zone.
Looking to 2013/14, they are likely to face a relegation scrap with the newly promoted sides, as whoever comes in to replace Pulis will be forced to deal with a squad of largely one-dimensional players.
Cardiff’s financial clout is well documented, and they will surely spend over the summer to attempt to consolidate their newfound status in the top flight. Steve Bruce is an experienced Premier League manager, and will ensure Hull spend wisely to achieve that same aim.
Aston Villa ended their season on good form, and have cause for optimism. Their young squad should push on next year after showing true mettle to get themselves out of trouble this term.
One would also expect the Di Canio revolution to truly begin at Sunderland next season. His impact at the Stadium of Light was undeniable in the final few games of the season, while Newcastle will surely act to ensure their talented squad does not underachieve in the way it did this year.
Regarding the manager’s position at The Britannia, the club have been linked with a host of names, the favourites of which seem extremely ambitious.
Rafael Benitez at 7/1 and Roberto Di Matteo at 6/1 would surely been unwilling to make such a step down from their previous positions at Chelsea, while Mark Hughes, the current jolly at 3/1, has seen his reputation dimmed somewhat after his disastrous tenure at QPR, and may also consider himself above the position.
A figure such as Roberto Martinez (though the current crop of players would be anathema to the Spaniard) at 8/1 or Martin O’Neill appear more likely contenders – though it will be an uphill struggle for whoever steps in to retain Premier League status.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing