Football’s Fear Factor XI

To celebrate Halloween we're looking at the players, teams and managers with most to fear ahead of a busy autumn schedule….

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Who from the world of football has most to fear this autumn?

Football’s Fear Factor XI – Players, Teams & Managers With Most To Fear This Autumn

The English football season has already served up plenty of moments to leave the blood running cold this season. From dodgy VAR decisions to record Premier League defeats and player-fan spats, 2019/20 has already been frighteningly good on the drama front.

What better way to celebrate Halloween, then, by looking at the players, teams and managers with most to fear ahead of a busy autumn schedule….

 

Halloween Special: who has most to fear this autumn?

1. SOUTHAMPTON FC

A 3-1 defeat to Man City in the Carabao Cup probably counted as some respite for a Saints side still reeling from claiming an unwanted Premier League record last Friday.

The scars left by a record 9-0 thumping against a rampant visiting Leicester City side will surely take some time to heal. Ralph Hasenhüttl arrived in English football with outstanding credentials after his successful spell at RB Leipzig but now faces the biggest management test of his career to date with Saints now 2/1 to be relegated in the Premier League betting after that performance.

With testing games against Man City, Everton and Arsenal to come, it may take some time for the Austrian to banish memories of the ‘Nightmare on St Mary’s’.

Panic rating? 9/10

 

2. UNAI EMERY

The natives are getting restless in North London with Arsenal showing worrying signs of retreating back to the end-days of the Arsene Wenger era.

The mood around the Emirates hasn’t been helped by an unseemly spat between captain Granit Xhaka and the home fanbase. The fallout from that dispute means some of the fire has now turned on Emery who took an age settling on his choice of captain.

With recent results decidedly mixed for the Gunners, there could be a chill coming to N7 autumn with some ‘banana skin’ fixtures ahead.

Panic rating? 7/10

 

3. JORDAN PICKFORD

With most of the heat at Goodison Park focused on the manager, the England ‘keeper’s slump in form has been relatively overlooked so far this campaign.

However, Pickford’s inability to stop Pascal Gross’ powerful yet savable free kick in their defeat to Brighton has perhaps raised a few eyebrows. With a glut of English goalies to choose from – including Bournemouth’s impressive young ‘keeper Aaron Ramsdale – Pickford needs to guard against complacency ahead of Euro 2020.

Panic rating? 5/10

 

4. LEEDS UTD

They look the class act in the division. All the xG stats suggest this year really should be the one. However, there’s that nagging doubt that the same old storyline might just be playing out yet again at Elland Road.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side look like a team that could adapt with relative ease to life in the top flight.

Getting there first, however, is another story.

At the moment, there’s nothing to fear for Leeds in a Championship year lacking in stand-out promotion candidates. It’s frustrating then, that Leeds consistently look capable of kicking on before hitting a bump in the road – away trips to Charlton and Millwall being cases in point.

Can they finally rip up the script in this campaign and end their recurring nightmare?

Panic rating? 3/10

 

5. PGMOL

Is VAR turning out to be the ultimate video nasty?

The technology continues to be splitting opinion all over the place – but most of the blame surely falls on the PGMOL.

The referees’ governing body seems to be swinging wildly from one week to next on how and when the technology should be implemented.

Buckle up, as the tension is only likely to mount this autumn in the Premier League as VAR continues to make and break weekends in equal measure.

Panic rating? 7/10

 

6. JONATHAN WOODGATE

It’s a classic horror trope that goes a bit like this.

After several years away, our hero returns to his hometown.

However, it’s not quite the nostalgia trip he remembers. And then, things start to unravel. Badly.

Sadly for Teeside-born and bred Woodgate, his first managerial role looks like it could be set for an unhappy ending with shot-shy Boro falling into the relegation zone in recent weeks. Woodgate was tasked with making his boyhood club more exciting to watch after the torturous Tony Pulis era. However, this is one sequel that currently looks even worse than the original.

Panic rating? 8/10

 

7. NEWCASTLE’S FRONTLINE

There’s been plenty for the home faithful at St James Park to be scared about since Rafa Benitez’s long drawn-out departure last summer.

However, one thing that will be truly terrifying the fanbase more is their distinctly unthreatening front line. The Magpies have scored just six goals all season and £60m duo Joelinton and Miguel Almirón continue to struggle to catch fire.

If Newcastle’s attack was a horror film, they’d be a 12A.

Panic rating: 8/10

 

8. SOL CAMPBELL

If his management career is anything to go by, the ex-England ace must be a fan of the horror genre. Campbell looks to be walking straight into yet another horror show in his second managerial stint.

After pulling off an unlikely rescue act with cash-strapped Macclesfield in 2018/19, the former Arsenal and Spurs man has taken on the grisly task of reviving struggling Southend’s fortunes. The Shrimpers’ prospects already look bleak – eight points adrift from safety with by far the worst goal difference in the league.

However, Sol’s time with Macclesfield shows he’s already a dab hand at following horror film convention – staying alive in the final act despite dicing with death several times.

Panic rating? 7/10

 

9. PHILLIP COCU

A lack of time to prepare for the season. A surprise struggle in the lower reaches of the Championship table. Off-field incidents hindering his cause.

Phillip Cocu must feel he’s fallen victim to some horror film curse with his first stint in English football not exactly going to plan. Due to events beyond his control, the Dutchman still retains the support of more pragmatic fans at Pride Park. However, after reaching the play-offs on four out of the last six seasons, patience might be wearing thin if Cocu is showing little signs of progress by Christmas.

Panic rating? 5/10

 

10. MORECAMBE FC

The Football League’s other Shrimpers have managed to ward off the Grim Reaper more than most towards the bottom of League Two. However, 2019/20 could be the campaign where the scythe finally falls down to end their plucky 12-year stay in the EFL. Their task has now been made harder by the departure of inspirational manager Jim Bentley to AFC Fylde.

Panic rating? 8/10

 

11. DELE ALLI

Football can be a cruel game. One minute you’ve got the world at your feet. The next, everyone’s moved on to the next big thing. A bit like the Scream franchise after Saw came out, Alli’s in danger of looking a bit like yesterday’s news after an inconsistent 18 months with Spurs.

Will the carrot of another big international tournament around the corner see him up his game heading into the latter half of the season? For Spurs fans, a revived Alli would be like a new signing.

Panic rating? 7/10

Who from the world of football has most to fear this Halloween?

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