For many, the Christmas period is the most joyous time of the year. For football managers, it's crunch time.
We've already seen many managerial sackings this season, from Sol Campbell to Nathan Jones, to now even Champions League finalist Mauricio Pochettino. It's fair to say that nobody's job is safe. The games are coming thick and fast and league tables up and down the country are starting to take shape, so wins are more crucial than ever.
A run of poor results could spell the end for coaches at this time of year, as the pressure starts to seriously mount. One man currently feeling the heat is Manuel Pellegrini, who is 5/1 with SkyBet to be the next Premier League manager to leave. Without a win in seven, such a price is undoubtedly justified, so we've taken an early look into the next West Ham manager odds.
Rafael Benitez the favourite
The current favourite to take over Pellegrini at 5/1 is veteran Rafael Benetiz. Despite moving to China last summer to take charge at Dalian Yifang, the 59-year-old continues to be linked with jobs in England, with clubs like Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and even a return to Newcastle United having been reportedly on the cards. Beneitz himself has stated that a move back to the Premier League would be appealing, and West Ham would surely be an interesting project for the Spaniard.
Conceding goals has been a big issue for the Hammers this season, with Pellegrini's side having the fourth worst defensive record in the division. Such a statistic makes a Benitez appointment a relatively likely scenario, as he is a manager known for his shrewdness at the back. At 5/1, he is the clear frontrunner for the job, as not many clubs would overlook the experience that the Spaniard possesses. On paper, West Ham's squad is strong, and he would have plenty more resources at his disposal than he did during his time with the Toon.
Is it a step up for Eddie Howe?
The second name in line in SkyBet's market might surprise a few - Eddie Howe. At 7/1, the Bournemouth manager's odds are relatively short to take charge at West Ham, particularly considering the two side's contrasting league standings. The Cherries are currently sat in 9th with four wins, four draws and four losses spread across the board - a relatively stable position as usual for the South Coast side.
For the past few seasons now, pundits and neutrals raise the question as to just how much further Howe can take his team, with such a factor continuing to raise questions over his long-term future at the club. The Englishman has been linked with Arsenal, Tottenham and even the England job in the past, but still he remains at Bournemouth. One, therefore, has to wonder what would tempt him to make the move across to West Ham, who have struggled for stability in recent years.
Instead, it would appear more likely that he is waiting for a bigger opportunity should he ever leave the Cherries. With odds of 7/1 though, some punters have clearly fancied the thought of Howe making the switch.
Shorter priced underdogs
On the note of surprise candidates for the West Ham job, Mauricio Pochettino is another surprising name to find on this list. At 10/1, the recently sacked Spurs boss has been given an underdog price to make a quick switch back into the Premier League.. His rather big odds are a reflection on this possibility though, as having just reached the CL final last season, the Argentinian surely has his sights set on loftier ambition, with many reports linking him to the vacant position at Bayern Munich.
Just behind Pochettino are both Carlo Ancelotti and Massimiliano Allegri, with both men being given odds of 12/1 to takeover from Pellegrini. The former is currently employed by Napoli, who have made a disappointing start to the season. Sitting 7th in the table, the Blues are currently performing below expectations, prompting rumours around a potential Ancelotti exit.
Allegri's name will surprise a few readers, as without disrespecting the Hammers, going from five consecutive Serie A titles to a struggling West Ham is not exactly a likely scenario. The Italian has been without a job since leaving Juventus in the summer, but he will surely have a wealth of clubs to choose from, when he decides to return to the game.
Going beyond the 12/1 odds now and there are plenty of candidates at 16/1.
Laurent Blanc is one that stands out, as he has been without a job for just over three years now. Having never managed in England before, he may be keen to put his managerial abilities to the test.
Mikel Arteta looks unlikely, as his name is continuously linked with either taking over from Unai Emery, or even being the long-term successor to Pep Guardiola. A similar factor can be applied to Steven Gerrard, who is gaining valuable and steady experience with his Rangers side. Thierry Henry can also be ruled out for now, having just taken over American side Montreal Impact.
West Ham next manager odds
- Rafael Benitez - 5/1
- Eddie Howe - 7/1
- Mauricio Pochettino - 10/1
- Carlo Ancelotti - 12/1
- Massimiliano Allegri - 12/1
- Laurent Blanc - 16/1
- Mikel Arteta - 16/1
- Steven Gerrard - 16/1
- Thierry Henry - 16/1