#3 Chris Wilder
The success of Sheffield United was one of the biggest stories of the 2019-20 Premier League season. Newly promoted from the EFL Championship, the Blades were expected to struggle in the top flight. But instead, they took the Premier League by storm. When action was halted in March, Chris Wilder’s side even stood an outside chance of securing Champions League football.
That didn’t happen in the end, but a ninth-place finish was still impressive. However, since the commencement of the 2020-21 campaign, the Blades have failed to build on that success. Instead, they look to be suffering from the dreaded 'second-season syndrome.'
Right now, Sheffield United are the Premier League’s bottom side, having lost seven of their first eight games. The only point they’ve secured came against fellow strugglers Fulham, and their goal difference has been diabolical too. They’ve scored just four goals while conceding 14.
So what’s gone so wrong? Wilder hasn’t spent millions in the transfer window. However, he was still able to bring in a number of players, including Aaron Ramsdale, Oliver Burke, and Rhian Brewster – breaking the club’s transfer record for the latter.
However, none of the trio have had the desired impact in the Premier League. And more worryingly, it appears that the likes of Oliver Norwood, John Lundstram, and Chris Basham may have been performing above their capabilities in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.
Sheffield United aren’t likely to fire Wilder – they only handed him a new deal in the summer of 2019, and he’s built up tons of positive credit at Bramall Lane. However, if things continue to go badly, he could well decide to abandon ship himself – or the two parties could agree to end things by mutual consent.
#4 Slaven Bilic
To paraphrase a Coldplay song, nobody really expected life in the Premier League to be that easy for West Brom in 2020-21. But nobody expected it to be quite this hard, either. The Baggies are currently sitting in 18th position in the Premier League table, and worryingly, they’re still looking for their first win after eight games.
Following their most recent loss at the weekend to Tottenham Hotspur, boss Slaven Bilic rubbished the idea that he’s under pressure. The Croatian stated that “it is a nonsense to raise that question about my future,” – but it’s hard not to imagine that he could be looking over his shoulder by this point.
West Brom appear to have a number of problems when it comes to adjusting to life in the Premier League. Thus far, their defense has looked woefully inadequate at the top level, as they’ve conceded 17 goals – the most in the Premier League by a clear margin.
But they’ve also struggled to score goals, with only Burnley and Sheffield United managing less than their total of six.
The match against Tottenham did offer some glimmers of hope – the Baggies looked more robust at the back than they’d done in any other Premier League game thus far. However, in turn, they were devoid of creativity, with star attacker Grady Diangana bizarrely left on the bench.
If Bilic can manage to marry up that defensive solidity with some more attacking threat, then he could turn things around yet. However, if he can’t stymie the rot quickly after the current international break – and he’s got a tricky game at Manchester United to deal with next – then it could cost him his job.
#5 Graham Potter
After narrowly surviving relegation in the 2018-19 Premier League season, Brighton decided that it was time for a change that summer. They fired long-serving boss Chris Hughton and replaced him with former Swansea boss Graham Potter, a manager renowned for his progressive and attractive brand of football.
The move paid off for the Seagulls – just – in 2019-20. They finished 15th in the Premier League and defeated sides like Tottenham, Arsenal, and Everton along the way. However, their start to the 2020-21 Premier League campaign hasn’t been quite as smooth-running.
Brighton currently sit in 16th place, but they’ve won just one of their opening eight fixtures. That’s despite putting together some pretty impressive statistics. They sit in the upper echelon of the Premier League when it comes to possession per game, shots per game, pass success rate, and fewest shots conceded.
However, football is a results business, and simply put, Potter’s side have not been achieving the results thus far into 2020-21. It’s one thing for a side to be able to play attractive football, but at the Premier League level, you’ve got to win too. And Brighton haven’t been doing that.
Given that they have some horrible upcoming fixtures – Aston Villa, Liverpool, Southampton, and Leicester City are their next opponents – it wouldn’t be a shock to see them in deep trouble by Christmas. And if that’s the case, then Potter’s job could definitely be under threat.