It is hard not to feel a certain degree of pity for a manager who has failed to hold down his last two jobs for a single season.
The swiftness with which Frank de Boer was shown the door at both Inter Milan and Crystal Palace may allow one to arrive at the conclusion that the Dutch manager and former player is a valueless commodity.
However it would be extremely harsh and unfair to judge De Boer in his last two jobs by simply referring to his start and end dates. Certainly, his style and football philosophy is one that is rapidly beginning to be viewed as antiquated and no longer applicable in today’s fast-paced, results-based and ultimately ruthless football world.
Crystal Palace were not the right team to impose a patient, slow-building, possession-based style of playing upon. That seems very obvious to everyone now, but the club and Steve Parish seemed all too eager to sit down in front of the media with De Boer when he was announced as manager in the summer and state that this was the way forward for the club.
Since his sacking, it has been a question of who should shoulder the blame for the horrendous start to the season: the manager, or Parish – whose decision it was that Palace should abandon their direct style of play (which, under manager Sam Allardyce last season, is what kept them from being relegated) and adopt an entirely new system and philosophy, with De Boer the man to impose it.
It is not just the fact that Palace have lost all of their opening four games of the Premier League season. That they have failed to register a single goal seems to be what leaves more of a bitter taste.
Of course, the blame cannot be lumped entirely on the former Ajax manager. However, there were reports that De Boer had failed to establish positive relationships with a couple of the Palace players. There were also whispers of negative atmospheres during training sessions.
So perhaps the brunt of the blame for Palace’s wretched start to the season cannot be place on any one person. But what it means is the manager has been sacked after just four games, and it looks as though Roy Hodgson is in line to take over.
It was a nightmare start (and exit) for one of the three managers in the league beginning life at a new club. But how have the other two gotten on thus far?
Quite differently, is the answer.
It is definitely worth it to wonder had Marco Silva managed to lead Hull to safety last season, if he would have chosen to go again with the Tigers and start afresh in a new season. If he had, it’s hard to imagine that Watford would have collected the amount of points they have done this season under another manager. It has been a fabulous start for the Hornets.
This is their fifth season in the Premier League, and with eight points after four games it is their best start to date. They have kept a clean sheet in their last three games and along with the two Manchester clubs, are the only as yet unbeaten team.
There was a lot of recruitment done during the summer, including the purchase of Burnley striker Andre Gray and promising talent Richarlison from Fluminese.
After the great work Silva did at Hull last season, he was not going to struggle for work back in the top flight when Hull’s relegation was confirmed. It is a very positive sign that a manager will get relegated with a team and yet his services are still required in the premier division.
There was no question the Hull players bought into the Portuguese. They looked willing to fight for him and stick to his structure. Defensively they improved almost immediately after a period of haemorrhaging goals with Mike Phelan in charge.
Watford look solid, positive on the ball, and are not shy of scoring goals. It will be interesting to see the heights Silva can reach with this side, and perhaps his will be a tenure that lasts a lot longer than the managers before him that have fallen to the wayside a lot quicker than they may have liked.
Incidentally, Watford’s last result was a wonderful 2-0 away win against Southampton, whose manager is not quite enjoying the same success in his new role.
Admittedly, this is the Pellegrino’s first job in the English game. Marco Silva did at least get to experience some of the rough and tumble of the Premier League with Hull last season.
Pellegrino is the latest manager to come in the door at Southampton after a long list that have come and gone before him, and in the last four or five years, each of those managers have enjoyed a certain level of success.
Pellegrino came in during the summer from Spanish side Alaves. He enjoyed quite a positive season with the Basque club, leading them to ninth in La Liga and reached the Copa Del Rey final where they suffered a 3-1 loss to Barcelona in Luis Enrique’s final game as manager.
The norm in recent years for Southampton has been to sell their best players and lose the services of their manager after a short period of time, some of whom are pulled in the direction of a more glamorous and ambitious club. Mauricio Pochettino left for Tottenham in 2014, and Ronald Koeman took over Everton in 2016.
Last season’s manager, Claude Puel, despite not being one of the more popular figures among the fans, led the club to yet another top-eight finish and contested the league final, where they lost narrowly thanks to a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic header.
This season however, Southampton have managed to buck the trend of seeing their most effective players being yanked away from them. The Virgirl van Dijk saga was just one of the few instances of players during the summer who made no secret of their desire to move on, and yet the club remained firm in their intention not to sell.
The clock struck eleven on August 31 and Van Dijk was still a Southampton player.
However, Pellegrino is yet to bare the fruits of the Dutchman’s defensive abilities. Despite training alone, the Liverpool target still lacks match fitness, and whether he is willing to give full commitment to the club in his performances is still yet to be determined.
But it isn’t just defensive issues Pellegrino has faced in his first role in English football. Southampton failed to score a goal in three of their first four games.
This could be down to the congested nature of their striker’s position. They have three forwards who all could arguably start for the side, yet two must be confined to the bench. Manolo Gabbiadini has started so far, but hasn’t clocked in 90 minutes in any game yet, as Charlie Austin and Shane Long are thrown on in place of him to try and force the issue.
Of course, it is almost pointless to quantify a team’s performance just four weeks into a new season. But it is important to point out that if Pellegrino wants to have a successful maiden season in the English top flight with his Southampton side, he will need to match the success of the managers before him.
That is ultimately how he will be judged.
David Newman, Pundit Arena