Aston Villa’s Christmas from hell has seen Paul Lambert installed as the new favourite to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job.
The Scot had established himself as one of the brightest young managerial prospects in the game and his talents seemed to know no bounds when he was dragging Norwich up through the divisions. His 6/5 price to be the next manager to go, however, is a testament to how quickly things can change in football.
His favouritism should be opposed as it’s difficult to envisage Villa swinging the axe so soon after the kafuffle they endured in prising him away from the Canaries, but he will definitely be glad to see the back of a festive period that saw them lose three of their four games, ship 17 goals and score just twice.
Villa’s current situation in the league can largely be attributed to previous regimes’ exuberant spending of resources, meaning Lambert has had to place more faith than he would probably have wanted in youngsters, while any number of injuries to key centre halves haven’t helped matters either.
However, with these players on the mend and the inevitable sale of Darren Bent likely to generate funds for one or two January acquisitions, expect the Villans’ league fortunes to change. They also have a golden opportunity to reach the Capital One Cup final; all they have to do is conquer giant-killing Bradford in the semis.
Based on longer bouts of bad form, both Alan Pardew and Martin Jol make decent candidates to win the next leg of the Premier League sack race and their shared odds of 10/1 will ensure a good payout.
Newcastle failed to repeat their exploits of the previous campaign in spectacular fashion and, although they can consider themselves unlucky to have lost at both Manchester United and Arsenal over Christmas, wins against Wigan and QPR are all they’ve managed in their previous nine outings. They’re also yet to win away from home across three competitions.
Fulham’s poor form is even worse than that of the Toon’s and has seen them drawn dangerously close to the relegation mire.
A win against West Brom on New Year’s Day eased these fears, but it remains only the second time in which they’ve claimed the spoils in 13 attempts and, should January fail to bring about a swift uplift in performances, expect the pressure to be increased on likeable Jol.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date