Chelsea: Antonio Conte amongst the front runners in the Premier League sack race

With four Premier League managers already relieved of their duties, Antonio Conte is now one of the surprise favourites to face the chop next.

In the Premier League, the managerial merry-go-round never really grinds to a halt. 

Already this season, four clubs have departed with their managers with former Crystal Palace boss Frank de Boer lasting a surprising-even-by-his-standards 77 days at the club.

Since then, Premier League fans have watched the decline and fall of Craig Shakespeare, Ronald Koeman and, most recently, Slaven Bilic who was relieved of his duties at West Ham earlier this week.

Of course, more heads will follow as the season grows older. But amongst the usual suspects for sacking, one name stands out. 

This week, speculation concerning Antonio Conte’s position at Chelsea were rife in the media. Even carrying your club to the Champions League spaces is not enough to make a manager’s job safe it seems. 

Jon Mackenzie brings you the four favourites in the Premier League sack race.

  1. 1 Paul Clement

    Having sunk into the relegation zone with a run of games that put them at the bottom of the Premier League form table, it's safe to say that Paul Clement's stint at Swansea is well and truly hanging in the balance. 

    With his team posting the second-worst goalscoring record so far this season, the only silver lining to the cloud that is hanging over the Liberty Stadium is the fact that Clement's team currently have the lowest 'goals conceded' tally of the bottom six clubs.

    Of course, solidity at the back exists as the floor rather than the ceiling of what a manager is expected to achieve and so the Swansea manager will be hoping that his forwards can start repaying him for the faith he has shown in them. With Tammy Abraham, Renato Sanches and Roque Mesa all arriving at the club in the summer, though, Clement has every right to feel a little aggrieved at the return they are giving him at the present moment.

    With a wealth of experience at big clubs around Europe, most notably as assistant to Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, it is hard not to feel sorry for the Englishman. However, as the old adage goes 'Football is a results-based game' and unless Clement can start squeezing points out of his team, it's hard to see him escaping the axe.

    Odds for the chop: 8/10


  2. 2 Tony Pulis

    While West Bromwich Albion's manager is usually associated with 'yer Da' baseball caps and disarmingly clean trainers, he has an even longer pedigree when it comes to escaping relegation. In a career in football that stretches back to 1975 in which time he has played and managed, Pulis has never once been relegated.

    Of course, the danger with such an approach is that, all too often, survival becomes everything and, across his career to date, the familiar refrain of '40-point Pulis' have become all too common. 

    Still the regression to a mean that Pulisball encourages is all well and good until it doesn't work any more and, this season, the magic seems to be running out. After a bright start to their campaign, West Brom have plummeted down the table and find themselves a solitary point above West Ham in 18th without a win in nine games.

    If this run continues, it will be hard for the club's board to ignore. However, Pulis' record speaks for itself so, if the crunch comes, the decision will be a hard one. 

    Odds for the chop: 7/10


  3. 3 Antonio Conte

    Since Roman Abramovich bought the club over 14 years ago, Chelsea have gone through an impressive litany of 10 managers with some of the biggest names in the managerial world finding themselves axed by the club's somewhat-tetchy owner. 

    For many of these men, their terminations were remarkably unlucky: Avram Grant losing his job as the result of a John Terry slip in a Champions League final penalty shootout and Roberto DiMatteo being fired despite winning the competition against all the odds.

    Even Jose Mourinho, the self-pronounced Special One, was immune to the foibles of his Russian boss, albeit at a point in his second stint at the club where Chelsea were languishing in the bottom half of the league.

    Antonio Conte will feel as though the speculation concerning his future that has arisen in the last few weeks is harsh at best. Having all but guaranteed a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League and lifted his club into the top four in the Premier League, any talk of a firing seems premature at best.

    But, then again, it's hard to tell with Abramovich. After a summer of clashes amongst the Chelsea hierarchy regarding transfers, Conte has since rankled the fans with his decision to drop David Luiz over an alleged 'tactical disagreement' all of which has been enough for the Oddschecker website to have him listed as the third most likely manager to be relieved from his position in the Premier League in the near future.

    Odds for the chop: 5/10


  4. 4 Mark Hughes

    There were few starts to this Premier League campaign more incongruous than Stoke City's. A win against Arsenal was swiftly followed by a draw against then-league-leaders Manchester United but, since then, the club has meandered slowly down the table. 

    With only two wins since the victory over the Gunners, fans of the club will be disappointed that points have been dropped against Premier League sides that they view as eminently more beatable than the North London side. In addition, hammerings at the hands of Chelsea and Manchester City have hardly helped endear Hughes within the Potteries.

    More recently, though, the club have seen something of an upturn in their fortunes: a win against league-fliers Watford was followed up with a gutsy 2-2 draw against Stoke in a match which saw Peter Crouch come on to snaffle a late equaliser.

    Hughes is unfortunate insofar as he has tried to inject a particular brand of passing football into a squad composed of players who are almost exclusively unsuited to play such football. But therein lies the problem with football management: you are brought into a club to improve it but if that comes at the expense of your previous form.

    You're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't. And right now for Mark Hughes, his 'doing' requires that he gets a few more wins. If not, he could be just another Premier League managerial casualty in the next few months.

    Odds for the chop: 4/10 

  1. Who will be the next Premier League manager to go?

    1. Paul Clement
    2. Tony Pulis
    3. Antonio Conte
    4. Mark Hughes
    40 votes
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Jon Mackenzie

Jon Mackenzie is the Football Editor at RealSport.

Regularly appearing on talkSPORT radio, his work has also featured in The Economist, The Blizzard, Tifo Football and on the Futbolgrad Network.

A UEFA and Premier League-accredited journalist, Jon also founded A Team of John O'Sheas podcast and hosts it every week.

Follow him on Twitter @Jon_Mackenzie