Six games into the new Premier League season and fans are already facing a few surprises.
West Ham’s bubbles have been well and truly burst, Jose Mourinho is realising world record transfer fees don’t equate to world record performances and Hull have somehow managed to avoid the relegation spots.
And with the summer transfer window closed and new signings settled into their surroundings, it’s becoming clear some managers are in a bit of trouble.
David Moyes and his winless Sunderland, Slaven Bilic and his porous Hammers and Antonio Conte and his bumbling Blues are causing concern among their supporters.
We asked our reporters which boss is facing the biggest headache, here’s what they said…
Simon Mullock – Mark Hughes
After finishing ninth in each of their last three seasons, hopes were high at the Bet365 Stadium that Mark Hughes could go even better this season. But the Potters are yet to win in the Premier League, have conceded four goals in defeats to Manchester City, Tottenham and Crystal Palace, and have been knocked out of the EFL Cup by Hull.
Mark Hughes is now under the cosh.Injuries to keeper Jack Butland and Xherdan Shaqiri haven’tStoke have real problems at both ends of the pitch.A defence that has been the rock on which Hughes has built his team now lacks cohesion. And the Stoke boss is also paying the price for failing to land a striker capable of scoring goals regularly
Wilfried Bony was supposed to be the answer, but the Ivorian looks mentally and physically shot following his ill-fated spell at Manchesterhas to rediscover the form that prompted the Etihad club to pay £28million for him just 18 months ago if Stoke are going to avoid a relegation scrap.
David Anderson – Antonio Conte
Slaven Bilic, David Moyes and Mark Hughes are all reaching for the aspirin, but I think the manager with the biggest headache is Antonio Conte. Conte admits he is losing sleep at Chelsea as he grapples with the monumental task of turning them into title contenders.
One of Conte’s hallmarks as a coach is a mean defence, yet his backline at Chelsea is a shambles. It says it all that they are desperate to get the creaking John Terry back from his ankle injury because they have fallen apart without him. David Luiz’s return on deadline day was a panic buy because the Blues could not get their other targets and they are woefully short of reliable performers at the back. Gary Cahill’s form has collapsed while Branislav Ivanovic has come under fire from fans.
It begs the question why Conte did not rebuild his defence in the summer when the transfer window was open. Roman Abramovich is not famed for being patient with managers when results dip and Conte must quickly find a solution to Chelsea’s problems or he will need more than a few aspirin to deal with the pain.
Matt Lawless – Slaven Bilic
I wouldn’t like to be in Slaven Bilic’s shoes righta new baby, 57,000 disgruntled Hammers and a team devoid of confidence to deal with, he certainly has his work cut out.
The London Stadium remains a massive bone of contention for most West Hama bigger concern is the team’s alarming slump in form – both home and away.Defensively, they are an absolute shambles. A “laughing stock”, if you ask Mark Noble.
And they can’t seem to score either. What’s happened? Playing Middlesbrough next could be a blessing, however. If there is one manager who must know how Bilic feels, it is probably Aitor Karanka – Boro have lost their last four Premier League games. Whoever loses on Saturday may need to reach for the Night Nurse…
Jake Murtagh – Claudio Ranieri
The Tinkerman is struggling to find the balance between the Premier League and Europe.
While Leicester got their Champions League campaign off to storming start, the Foxes already lag 11 points behind Manchester City in the title race.
The champions have won just two of their seven games, including heavy defeats to Liverpool and Manchester United
Leicester’s squad lacks strength in depth in comparison to their rivals, and while Ranieri was able to field a virtually unchanged side last season, he may struggle to do the same this time around with a heavily congested fixture schedule.
Hamish Mackay – Slaven Bilic
There are problems everywhere he turns for West Ham boss Slaven Bilic whose side have slumped to third bottom. On the pitch the unity and chemistry West Ham had last season has gone missing and he looks to have a job on to
restore their confidence. It looks shot.
Transfer wise, he missed out on his top striker targets and none of the long list of players Bilic brought in during the summer have had a major, positive impact yet.
Bilic’s hopes of building any momentum haven’t been helped by injuries with five potential first-framers currently in the treatment room. On top of that his players have yet to settle in their new London Stadium ground while the unrest in the stands is also contributing to it being an unhappy home for the Hammers.
Last season West Ham’s first six Premier League brought them 12 points and wins against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City. This season’s first six have brought five defeats and seen them concede 16 goals. For a team with ambitions of being in the Champions League – and the airs to match – they’re in a bit of trouble.
That Slaven Bilic’s side have started poorly is not in itself a cause for panic. Sometimes a squad, especially one that welcomes 10 new players in a transfer window – can take a while to gel. What is worrying, however, is that they don’t seem to be learning from any of their mistakes.
Gung-ho performances against Man City, Watford and West Brom saw them ship 11 goals in 270 minutes. You can bet that Bilic focused heavily on sorting out his defence after that shambles. So did he get through to his players? A comprehensive 3-0 defeat at home to Southampton says otherwise. Bilic is facing a major headache, and it’s one that won’t pass without some serious treatment.
Alex Richards – Sean Dyche
Quite simply, Sean Dyche. The Clarets have managed only three goals since their return – two of which came in the win over Liverpool – and have now been hit with a four-match ban to star striker Andre Gray, whose pace and movement is integral to their way of playing.
Monday night’s clash with Watford has taken on huge importance, with Dyche knowing a win can push them into mid-table. But long-term, his side look hard-working, and willing to run through walls for their manager, yet lacking in quality in the final third. To lose their chief marksman is a bitter pill to swallow, and you have to ask where the goals are going to come from, both in his absence and beyond.
There’s no question that Dyche is safe in his job, having done stellar work since his arrival at Turf Moor in 2012.But how to get his side scoring – they’ve already fired two blanks at home – is surely giving him a migraine approaching tonight’s battle against the Hornets.