Sean Dyche has been installed as the even-money favourite to take over at Bournemouth following the dismissal of Scott Parker.
It’s extremely rare to see a manager sacked after just four games of a season, and it’s unprecedented to happen to a manager who’s just brought a side up to the Premier League.
But despite an impressive opening-day win over Aston Villa, the Cherries suffered hammerings at the hands of Manchester City and Arsenal, before a record-equalling 9-0 loss at Anfield.
It wasn’t the defeats that have cost Parker his job – or even the nature of them, though they will have no doubt raised alarm – but the departed head coach’s comments after the loss to Liverpool.
The season after Bournemouth were relegated from the Premier League, they sold Nathan Ake, Callum Wilson and Aaron Ramsdale, bringing in around £80m to the club.
These players weren’t adequately replaced and the Cherries were unable to launch a sustained promotion push, falling at the first hurdle in the play-offs. The following summer was a similar tale, with Arnaut Danjuma being sold to Villarreal, but this time, with Parker in charge and Dominic Solanke’s goals, they had enough to finish behind champions Fulham.
One could argue Fulham didn’t need to strengthen as much as the two other promoted sides, but have still recruited the likes of Joao Palhinha, Andreas Pereira and Bernd Leno, while Nottingham Forest’s recruitment speaks for itself.
Meanwhile Parker – perhaps fairly – claimed that the squad simply wasn’t good enough for the Premier League. “I feel sorry for the players, because we are ill-equipped at this level.”
An honest assessment, and if this has been the first weekend of the season with signings due, it may have been a different story. But it seems owner Maxim Denim is content with his spending this summer, and – like Norwich and Fulham in recent years – if they go back down, so be it.
But of course Denim will be hopeful of survival, just not at all costs, and so he is now tasked with finding a new manager.
The dismissal of Dyche last season raised eyebrows; widely considered something of a miracle-worker for his accomplishments at Turf Moor, Dyche was shown the door, and is now seemingly waiting for the next Premier League job to come up.
Across two of his first three full seasons in Lancashire, Dyche got Burnley promoted to the top flight, keeping them there at the second time of asking, and even securing a Europa League place.
He’s also got a good record in terms of increasing value of players; the likes of Chris Wood, Michael Keane and Andre Gray were all sold on for large profits, and only adds another strong to his bow, from an owner’s perspective if nothing else.
How much Dyche could do with the existing squad remains to be seen. We know the first thing he asked of his team at Burnley was to be defensively solid and to work hard, and it’s surely the minimum he’ll expect should he make the move to the south coast.
A more unfamiliar name in Kjetil Knutsen is second favourite at 4/1. The Bodo/Glimt manager has been named Eliteserien Coach of the Year in each of the last three seasons, taking them from 11th (out of 16) upon their return to the Norwegian top flight, to second the following season, to back-to-back titles, the first of which by a 19-point margin.
Celtic fans will remember them as the side who halted their Europa Conference League campaign, before going on to record a 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s Roma, being eliminated in the return leg.
After falling short of qualifying for the Champions League group stage, the Norweigian champions will face Arsenal in the Europa League.
Chris Wilder is the joint-third favourite at 12/1, though he may not be called upon unless talks with Dyche broke down, while Chelsea coach Anthony Barry is also priced at 12/1, the same as Cherries caretaker Gary O’Neil.