Teams are dropping like flies in the Premier League this week with relegation rearing its ugly head at two of the league’s seemingly most stables sides. It has been the work of underperforming, or simply terrible, managers that has contributed the most to their downfall. We’ll spare West Brom any humiliation because Darren Moore has done a fantastic job in trying to keep the club up after Alan Pardew’s disastrous reign, so we’ll target Stoke as well as a couple of other people who’ve not had the best week.
3. Carlos Carvalhal
Despite his easy-going and lively personality, the Portuguese manager has come up short this week when his club most needed results. A few weeks ago, it looked as if the former Sheffield Wednesday manager had performed a miracle in keeping doomed Swansea in the Premier League. However, having lost an important run of games, the Swans found themselves in the relegation mire and desperately needed points against first Bournemouth then Southampton. Two 1-0 defeats later and it looks like the Welsh club are on their way back down to the Championship. Carvalhal’s Swansea team offered very little in the way of an attacking threat against either South Coast club and their struggle for goals was very evident in these must-win fixtures. Carvalhal’s negative tactics may have sured up the leaking defence but it has done little in the way of encouraging creativity and has finally come back to bite him. Swansea now face already relegated Stoke on the final day and will have to rely on results elsewhere if they’re going to stay in the Premier League.
2. Oleksander Zinchenko
The Ukrainian has been a bit-part player for comfortable champions, Manchester City, this season. He’s impressed at times in an unfamiliar left back role and has put in respectable performances in big games but disaster struck on Sunday when he and his Manchester City teammates went to pick up the Premier League trophy after their game with Huddersfield. With it being Yaya Toure’s last season with the club, the Ivorian veteran was bombarded with pushes and slaps as he went up to receive his third winner’s medal. In the commotion of the moment, with each City player crowding around Toure, the hoard of jubilant players bounced dangerously close to the sky-blue-ribboned trophy sitting on its pedestal. The unlucky man to bump into it was Zinchenko and the trophy crashed onto the floor, much to the sheer horror of Zinchenko while some of his teammates were also left in a mixture of remorse and amusement. Luckily for Zinchenko, the trophy was still intact and Vincent Kompany went onto lift it for the third time. I can confirm that Zinchenko was let nowhere near the silverware during the celebrations.
1. Stoke City
Mark Hughes cannot take sole responsibility for the club’s swift downfall over the past year. The club’s owners, scouts, coaching staff and players must all shoulder the blame for ending the club’s decade long stint in England’s top division. Their defeat at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday confirmed Stoke’s relegation and, when Paul Lambert was appointed back in January, this result is hardly surprising. The club’s recruitment policy has been a shambles recently. The likes of Jese Rodriguez, Kevin Wimmer, Phil Bardsley, Ramandan Sobhi and Darren Fletcher have contributed very little to the club’s performances on the pitch this season nor were they exactly exciting or inspiring signings in the first place. The failure to replace Marko Arnautovic has also contributed massively to their shortcomings, leaving Lambert with the strike force of Peter Crouch and Mame Diouf hardly screams a prolific partnership. Several senior players such as Ryan Shawcross and Jack Butland have questioned the commitment of certain signings this season while Xherdan Shaqiri has claimed that the squad is not up to his level. The club’s owner Peter Coates came on record this week to state that the club should’ve sacked Mark Hughes earlier but by appointing Paul Lambert as a successor was hardly turning a corner and ultimately the club has paid the price for their acceptance of mediocre managers and players.