Despite holding Manchester City to a hard-fought draw at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League, West Bromwich Albion have opted for a change of manager after sacking Slaven Bilic. It’s no strange feeling for the Croat, whose last Premier League campaign ended with an early departure as he got the boot with West Ham United in November 2017. This makes him the first Premier League manager to leave this season.
Bilic Becomes Latest in Premier League Manager Dismissal
Premier League Sees Latest First Departure Since 2014
The sacking of Bilic is the first Premier League managerial axing of the 2020/21 campaign. There’s a sense that without the impact of a pandemic, and a compressed season, there would be an earlier sacking, but this is the first sacking of the year.
This means he becomes the latest first managerial sacking since the 2014/15 season. In that season, Tony Pulis departed Crystal Palace on the eve of the new season, but on a technicality, that doesn’t count much. Instead, the dishonour of the first axing fell to Pulis’ permanent successor, Neil Warnock, who was dismissed on December 27, 2014.
Here’s a list of the first Premier League departures of the last five seasons before 2020/21:
2015/16 (Dick Advocaat & Brendan Rodgers)
After helping Sunderland survive in the 2014/15 season, with some show of emotion, Dick Advocaat was convinced to stay on for another season at the Stadium of Light. But Sunderland failed to win any of their first eight league games and by the start of October, after a 2-2 draw with Slaven Bilic managed West Ham, the Dutchman resigned.
It was a different case for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, who left the Reds the same day. Rodgers had been under pressure since the previous season, having failed to replicate the title-chasing form of 2013/14. The Reds managed three hard-fought wins in their first eight games, and Rodgers was dismissed following a draw against Everton in the Merseyside Derby.
Premier League 2016/17 (Francesco Guidolin)
For Italian manager Francesco Guidolin at Swansea City, it was also an October exit. Despite winning the first game of the new Premier League season, Swansea would go on to lose five of their next six games. The final of those games was against Liverpool, in which they took the lead, but lost to a late James Milner penalty. Guidolin would be replaced by American Bob Bradley.
2017/18 (Frank de Boer)
Frank de Boer still possesses an unenviable record of a zero per cent-win rate and a 100 per cent loss rate in the Premier League. After spending some 70 days with Inter Milan and getting sacked in 2016, De Boer turned up at Selhurst Park intending to change Crystal Palace’s style of play. But it didn’t go so well, and four defeats and zero goals later, the Dutchman was dismissed after just ten weeks.
Premier League 2018/19 (Slavisa Jokanovic)
Serbian manager Slavisa Jokanovic got Fulham promoted through the Championship playoffs in 2017/18 with some great football. Fulham spent over £100 million on players, an act that’s been dubbed as ‘doing a Fulham’, highlighting how badly things went. The West London club would go through three different managers that season and on November 14, Jokanovic was the first of those managers to go and the first departure of the season.
Premier League 2019/20 (Javi Gracia)
For many, there might be some surprise that Watford only appear once on this list, given their history of managers. In five years in the Premier League, the club went through six managerial sackings. Javi Gracia was the first of them to go through a whole season and start a new one. But only a few weeks into the 2019/20 campaign, Gracia was given the boot, and Watford – having seemingly run out of managers – turned to former gaffer Quique Sanchez Flores.