Leicester were backed in to a low of [4.0] to be relegated following the news that they had sacked Nigel Pearson due to “fundamental differences in perspective” between him and the owners.
The concern is understandable because the 51-year-old has come and gone once before and the Foxes stagnated in the 17 months that he was away. His initial stint started in 2008 and he delivered the League One title in season one before finishing fifth in the Championship in season two.
He then decided to move to Hull for just shy of a year and a half, as you do, with Leicester slipping to tenth in 2010/11 and sliding down to 12th when a reunion was arranged in November 2011. He lifted them to ninth that term, sixth the next and top in 2013/14, with the rest of course history.
However, it is notable that, even though progress stalled in his absence, they didn’t collapse, and there are some accomplished candidates to replace him on this occasion in the likes of Sam Allardyce at [6.8] and Neil Lennon at [4.5].
Most encouraging for Leicester are the history lessons. There are four instances of a promoted team avoiding relegation in their first Premier League campaign and then changing boss. Despite the twin threats of upheaval and second season syndrome, only one of those was punished with the drop…
Brendan Rodgers (Swansea, 2012)
Liverpool were so impressed by how Rodgers guided Swansea up through the play-offs and then to an 11th-place top-flight finish that they pursued him as Kenny Dalglish’s replacement.
The Swans chose a glamorous successor, and Michael Laudrup rewarded them with not only an ascent to ninth, but a Capital One Cup triumph and route to Europe too. Though Laudrup was later axed for Garry Monk, the Welsh side are approaching a fifth straight term in Premier League office.
Paul Lambert (Norwich, 2012)
While Swansea could be confident of brushing off Rodgers’ exit having done likewise with Roberto Martinez and Paulo Sousa before, how Norwich would fare without Lambert after he left for Aston Villa was a worry as he had carried them from League One to 12th in the Premier League in three years.
Yet there was no immediate downturn as they instead climbed a position to 11th in Chris Hughton’s debut campaign. Demotion would follow in 2013/14, but an instant top-tier return under Alex Neil has reasserted that there is life after Lambert.
Paul Jewell (Bradford, 2000)
Jewell got to walk away from Bradford on a mighty high – first ending a 77-year wait for top-flight football and then guaranteeing them a second year of the stuff with a final-day win over Liverpool.
The manager would end up in the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday, albeit being sacked before the Bantams could join him one summer later.
This is the one example of post-dugout-switch relegation on this list, but Bradford’s demise wasn’t solely attributable to losing Jewell, as they narrowly swerved going down with him in charge and botched the succession plan by hiring his assistant Chris Hutchings.
Billy Bonds (West Ham, 1994)
Arguably West Ham’s greatest playing legend experienced a topsy-turvy four-and-a-bit years as boss, overseeing a promotion, a relegation and then a second promotion, closing his final season in 13th.
Something murky occurred in August 1994, with Bonds walking away believing that his long-term friend and assistant Harry Redknapp had made a play for his job. The former Bournemouth chief struggled at first upon stepping in, not escaping the drop zone until April in 1994/95, yet lasted seven years and achieved four top-half finishes.