The Premier League’s managerial sack race is one of the most unforgiving and cut-throat in Europe, with Scott Parker already being led to the chopping block after only four games. With no time to grieve, who are the leading candidates to succeed him?
Bournemouth started 2022/23 in fine fashion, beating Aston Villa 2-0 on matchday one, but three successive defeats, including that record-equalling 9-0 loss to Liverpool, has seen the top brass react swiftly and cold-bloodedly to relieve Parker from his managerial duties.
In an industry that cares little for sentiment, this had all the hallmarks of a knee-jerk decision, emphasising the dog-eat-dog nature of top-flight football — but in truth, the writing appeared on the wall on Saturday after Parker declared that he “can see some more [routs]” unless Bournemouth “get more quality in”.
It appeared a not-so-thinly-veiled swiped at the South Coast makers and shakers who, in their club statement on Parker’s sacking, announced that “we must show belief in and respect for one another”, hinting that Parker’s post-Liverpool comments didn’t sit well with those up top.
Of course, there is precious time to dwell too much on the semantics, as Bournemouth are back in action on Wednesday night against Wolves, such is the inexorable calendar of the Premier League. First-team coach Gary O’Neil will be taking charge in the interim, the club have confirmed.
The former West Ham and Middlesbrough midfielder is one of the leading candidates in the frame to succeed Parker, but there are several other interesting names, including Premier League icons Thierry Henry, Michael Carrick and John Terry. Let’s assess the front-runners.
Out of work since leaving Burnley last season, the Premier League just doesn’t feel the same without Sean Dyche and his raspy-voiced musings. The Englishman was part of the Turf Moor furniture for a decade, defying expectations in Lancashire as he guided the Clarets to Europe, staved off relegation countless times and enjoyed two promotions. He’s a miracle-worker and a fire fighter and, as it happens, the favourite to take over from Parker at Bournemouth.
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Middlesbrough are having a torrid time of things in the Championship during these early stages of the season, with the club currently sitting 18th in the table after six games. However, at the helm is Chris Wilder, a man who knows promotion like the back of his hand, and someone who has worked previous wonders in the Premier League having secured Sheffield United a ninth-placed finish in 2019/20. Wilder also claimed the scalps of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the EFL Cup last season, so there’s certainly no inferiority complex coursing through his veins. That David-Who-Fought-Goliath mentality could be just the tonic Bournemouth need.
Having succeeded Jason Tindall in February 2021, Jonathan Woodgate helped guide Bournemouth into the 2020/21 play-offs, though unfortunately for him, they came up short to Brentford and Parker eventually took the job. Just over a a year later, Woodgate is once again in the frame to fill the void in Bournemouth’s vacant dugout. His mid-season appointment worked well last time, so he’ll definitely be a name high up on the shortlist.
When Tindall was sacked in February 2021, Thierry Henry’s name surfaced as one of the front-runners to take the Dean Court reins. He ultimately stuck around at Montreal Impact, but he has once again entered the conversation to become the new Bournemouth boss. Current assistant coach for the Belgium national team, this would be a huge leap from Henry on the eve of a World Cup, unless he would intend to juggle both jobs if he is, in fact, under serious consideration.
Yet to find a new club since leaving Old Trafford in December following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his three-game caretaker stint and the eventual appointment of Ralf Rangnick, Michael Carrick would be an interesting man to succeed his former England international teammate. Although he’s worked under some of the finest coaches in world football and has had some Premier League experience in the hotseat (albeit three games), his potential appointment would represent a huge gamble.